The reason why we are looking forward to director Kim Seong-hwan, who made his feature-length debut, in the movie 'One Thousand Seconds'
Interview with director Kim Seong-hwan of the movie ‘One in 10,000 Seconds’If you look at the history of Korean film, new directors have stood out in times of crisis and have developed through a generational change. A representative example is Kang Je-gyu, director of 'Shiri', who was one of the directors who became the driving force in overcoming the crisis that had struck Korean films since the early 1990s. The Korean film industry is in crisis these days. Amid the flood of OTT, the number of moviegoers visiting theaters is plummeting, and the entire film industry is reeling. Meanwhile, a new director is making his debut with a feature film. The material is not easy either. It's kendo. Nevertheless, there is something new in this director's film. The industry's assessment is that he is worthy of being one of the next generation of directors who will change the Korean film industry. I met him and heard about his movies and his theater.
The movie 'One Thousand Seconds' is a work that shows the intense concerns of director Kim Seong-hwan, who is making his feature-length debut. 'One in 10,000 Seconds' is the story of Jae-woo (Joo Jong-hyuk), who is preparing for the national kendo team selection competition, when he meets his opponent Tae-soo (Moon Jin-seung), who killed his older brother in an accident in the past. In the movie, Jaewoo's emotions escalate step by step, like the waves created when a stone is thrown into a calm lake.
Director Kim Seong-hwan said he decided to film a kendo-themed film 10 years ago, but it took a long time to find the right story. Perhaps, like kendo, where you must maintain composure and discover the fleeting moments, Director Kim Seong-hwan also walked calmly, one step at a time, for ‘one second in 10,000’. We are already curious about the next work of director Kim Seong-hwan, who successfully made his feature debut. He is receiving a lot of positive reviews for his first feature film, 'One Thousand Seconds'. Following winning the Korean Fantastic Best Picture Award at the 27th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, the Feature Award Noted by Watcha, and the Best Picture Award at the 8th London Asian Film Festival, it was also invited to the New Director Competition section at the 47th Sao Paulo International Film Festival.
Through ‘One in 10,000 Seconds’, I hoped that the audience would have an experience rather than an appreciation. Naturally, I was nervous because there would be unfamiliar spots. I tried to express it in my own way, but I am grateful that the Bucheon International Film Festival and the London Asian Film Festival even gave me awards. I think it is a great comfort to receive positive responses both at home and abroad.
It is based on kendo, which is not often covered in sports movies. I’m curious about the beginning of planning ‘One in 10,000 Seconds.’
Kendo has always been a subject I have been passionate about and wanted to photograph. It was fascinating to hear the players' spirit and the sound of wooden swords clashing, and to see them speaking their own language like musicians. However, it took a long time because I couldn't find a story to include the subject of kendo. I hoped that ‘One in 10,000 Seconds’ would be portrayed as a story of leap forward rather than a story of growth. I think they did a lot of research to make the kendo scenes look awkward.
I think I searched all over Google to find the information. I felt like I needed to accurately inform the staff about the sport of kendo, so I briefed them on a PPT when everyone was gathered together. As I searched for documentary videos and photos, I think the data alone amounted to 12GB.
In order to implement the kendo scene, training courses for actors would have been necessary. How did you go about practicing kendo?
People who practice kendo are different from the moment they were born. It has a straight feel. There are scenes where doubles are used, but I wanted the actors to feel that way even when they were standing still. I think I practiced while doing matching training with Yongin University students. In particular, there are frequent scenes of putting on a hood before putting on a mask, and surprisingly, that scene lasted a long time. I think we filmed it more than 18 times (laughs). Actors Joo Jong-hyuk and Moon Jin-seung did a great job expressing delicate emotions, including kendo acting, on screen, just like athletes preparing for the national team. I think it's perfect casting.
I hope to create a work that will be a hit at the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) and attract attention as a new director so I can enter the industry. During the casting stage, I heard a lot of questions about whether it would be good to work with actors who are a little more well-known. Nevertheless, an actor with important eyes was the most important casting condition for me. I showed the picture of the eye beyond the surface to my instructor, and he introduced me to actor Joo Jong-hyuk. 'okay. I thought, ‘This is him.’ I guess I was lucky. I was able to work with him before he was cast in the drama ‘Weird Lawyer Woo Young-woo’. Actor Moon Jin-seung finished his studies in Germany, began his career in Korea, and shot his first feature film with 'One Thousand Seconds.' We were both fortunate that our schedules allowed.
Jae-woo and Tae-soo's kendo as they prepare for the national team selection match feels similar yet different.
I tried to express the characteristics of Jae-woo and Tae-su by using the form or aspect of them competing in kendo. When Jae-woo stormed off, Tae-soo hoped to play defense like a ping-pong player. In the case of Tae-soo, Jae-woo's father taught kendo himself, and I thought about what kind of kendo he would have taught. I wanted to represent the psychology of the two people through their different postures and combinations. Was there a face you wanted to bring out in Joo Jong-hyuk and Moon Jin-seung through ‘One in 10,000 Seconds’?
When I first met the two actors, I told them about the images of their characters. I showed a picture of a pressure cooker to actor Joo Jong-hyuk. The movie is limited to Jae-woo's first-person perspective, but I thought Tae-soo would ignite the fire and increase the pressure. From Jae-woo's point of view, he hates Tae-soo, but at the same time, he is also curious about his father in the time he did not see. Actor Joo Jong-hyuk always had to put on a poker face. The white uniform worn by Tae-su, played by actor Jin-seung Moon, reminds us of the uniform worn by Jae-woo's father. I thought that the mirror-like sword he used should be the governor himself.
Is there a scene you are particularly fond of?
There is a scene where Jae-woo and Tae-soo engage in internal psychological warfare while stretching their backs. Wouldn’t it be awkward for both of them to stretch? When you place your backs against each other and give your full weight, both the person holding on and the person climbing up become nervous. I like that scene the most. A feature film is my first challenge. I think there will be a special sense of accomplishment or emotion as the movie opens and meets audiences.
I feel a sense of accomplishment in that this is a film that I put my all into. Of course, I think the true achievement will be confirmed after its release. If I were to talk about the movie, I thought Jae-woo was taking a leap rather than growing towards the ending. The ending where Jae-woo lets go of his tight grip at the end was solid. I won, but I thought I might miss my father. When I think of my father in flashbacks, doesn't it rain? I wanted to replace it and show it visually. ‘One in 10,000 Seconds’ is a film to be experienced rather than appreciated. I think it would be perfect if the film reached a point where one felt a sense of purification and unfamiliar freedom for incomprehensible reasons.
Is there a next project you are preparing or a material you are interested in?
I want to make a movie that deals with the human mind. I really like 'The Matrix' and 'The Truman Show', they are simple but beautiful movies. I don't have a next project in preparation right now, but if I get the chance again, wouldn't I be able to meet the audience?
Reporter Ha-neul Lee, Ten Asia email@example.com