Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • JANG Kunjae, Director of A MIDSUMMER'S FANTASIA
  • by LEE Yong-cheol / 02.28.2014
  • “I Dream of Living as a Fulltime Filmmaker”
    Filmmaker JANG Kunjae, who received local and international acclaim for Eighteen (2010) and Sleepless Night (2012), is in the process of completing his third film. “Because the film was shot overseas there were difficulties I had to deal with, yet things ended better than expected” states the director whose words show a sense of confidence in his latest project. A Midsummer’s Fantasia was conceived two years ago when the director attended the Nara International Film Festival. Although it was originally just the director’s chair he accepted, his desire to participate in production and distribution led him to wear another hat as co-producer. Clearly, he’s a filmmaker with a great passion for cinema. Commissioned by Nara, requirements demanding for an all-Japan shoot corresponded well with JANG’s interest in taking on a once in a lifetime opportunity to shoot overseas.

    Having seen other international co-production projects cancelled midway through production enabled him to be “determined to complete this project with a flexible attitude” he said. While maintaining his trademark style of extensive communication with his actors on set, he reveals a drive that had him handle a tight 11-day shooting schedule. One has to wonder what it was like working with an all-Japanese film crew, including the cinematographer. “Preparations went so swiftly that I never felt that shooting with a Red One camera was a hassle. Efficient scheduling was the most impressive thing (about working with his Japanese co-workers) to me.” So it seems that although it couldn’t have been an easy task working with an unfamiliar film crew, the director must have been successful in developing trust with his Japanese film crew due to their strong management skills.
    “This film is structured into two halves. Part one deals with a Korean filmmaker researching to shoot a film in Gojo City, Japan. While Part two tells a tale of romance between a Korean actress and a Japanese man from the area inspired by the research from Part one. I cast Korean actors LIM Hyung-kook and KIM Sae-byuk who are regulars in the independent film scene, as well as Japanese actor IWASE Ryo who has been a longtime friend of mine.” The filmmaker, who directed two dramas in the past, made several formal changes to his style for the film: In Part one, he adopted a documentary style while for Part two, he mixed color and black and white filmmaking to create a different effect for each scene.

    One thing to take note of is his relationship with filmmaker KAWASE Naomi, who oversaw the entire production, and Nara Prefecture. Since KAWASE has consistently used Nara Prefecture as the main location for her films, JANG said he felt as if he was visiting ‘someone else’s film set’ the moment he arrived. “It seemed like a challenge for me to find a different story in a place where she shot her films during her entire career. Therefore I put more focus on my characters than the location” said JANG, explaining his intention to portray a space’s historicity through the characters’ stories.

    KAWASE may be a producer on this project, but primarily she is a world-renowned filmmaker. And to the question of JANG’s impression of her, he replied “Her view of space and objects is extraordinary. She is a talented filmmaker who doesn’t just see things as they are, but observes their other sides as well.” It clearly seems he has learned a few moves from KAWASE during the short time he spent working with her.
    Changing the subject to his impression of living as a filmmaker in Korea, JANG who is now in his late thirties, responded by expressing his desire to live as a full-time filmmaker. Obviously, the reality is not quite what he dreamed of. Besides a few exceptions, most filmmakers live off an income unrelated to filmmaking. However, instead of being tormented by the reality or let economic or psychological issues take away his energy, he wants to take a path where there is a balance between his life and his work. It seems that major changes in life such as marriage and childbirth have affected his work.

    He has just finished editing A Midsummer’s Fantasia and says the film will be completed in April at the latest. He hasn’t decided how he will introduce his film to the public, but his foremost goal is to release the film theatrically before the end of the year. JANG Kunjae is a filmmaker who already knows that a project’s result isn’t related to how many films he’s made before. This is why he has given and will continue to give his all to his projects. It would be a shame to miss out on the latest project of a filmmaker with such a positive attitude.
    By LEE Yong-cheol(Film Critic)

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