As "Moon Young" received support from the Korean Film Council for independent films, we shot it in February 2013. Since it had been a long time since we made the film, I was worried that the belated release might not be very exciting. Also, since it was a movie that I made the way I wanted to make it, with a runtime of 64 minutes, I was concerned about how the audience would perceive the completeness of the film. However, because all the staff and I worked hard during the shoot, it felt like a luxury to worry about such things now.
The working title for <Moon Young> was 'Subway Days.' I chose this title quite naturally and without much thought because, when I was writing the script, the subway was a space that had a special meaning to me. The subway is a place where many people gather and a space that we pass through every day. I liked that feeling. 'Days' means 'daily life,' 'everyday,' or 'day by day' in its dictionary meaning. However, just before submitting the film to the Seoul Independent Film Festival, I changed the title to <Moon Young>. I started to doubt whether 'Subway Days' was the right title for the film. Although the film is about Moon Young, and it is a story about people like her, the title didn't feel like it ended with a proper noun. Since Moon Young is the central character in the film, I think changing the title to <Moon Young> was a good decision.
I heard that Kim Tae-ri wasn't originally cast to play the role of Mun-young?
Actually, the day before I was supposed to meet Kim Tae-ri, I had planned to see a play that she was in, but I had to cancel the appointment. The day I was going to see the play, I had already confirmed another actress to play the role of Mun-young. The reason I met with Tae-ri the next day was to inform her that the role was already taken, but as a result, we ended up meeting each other. Although I hadn't seen her act yet, <Mun-young> was a small independent film, so I thought it would be better to work with someone who I wanted to work with. I think I was faithful to that attraction.
Beyond just having a strong conviction that she would be a great fit for the role of Moonyoung, I was also drawn to Kim Tae-ri's personal charm and likability as a person. I felt that she was an inherently attractive person, and I wanted to work with her because of that.
Kim Tae-ri and I had many conversations about the <Moon Young> screenplay. As she isn't someone who speaks in a particularly emotional way, she asked many questions about unclear parts of the script or emotions that needed to be clarified. We shared a lot of personal stories in response to each other's questions, and I shared with her the mindset with which I wrote the script, and she also shared her own personal experiences where she empathized with the story. We worked on this for about a month before filming began.
At first, I think the camcorder was a means for Moonyoung to find her mother, but she would have quickly realized that it wasn't going to help her find her. However, what was attractive about her was her gaze, her desire to look closely at things and to search for something. Initially, Moonyoung only filmed middle-aged women, but at school she also filmed her friends and Heesoo. Although she may not have known why she was filming at the time, when she grows up and looks back at what she filmed, I think she will realize, "Oh, this is what I saw at the time." I also had a hobby of filming with a camcorder when I was young, and I think I was instinctively drawn to the desire to look closely at things and to gain insights, to say, "Oh, this is what I'm seeing."
The 10-year age difference between Moon-young and Hee-soo was not significant in our decision-making process. We simply felt that 18 was an appropriate age for Moon-young, as she needed to be more mature than a middle school student. Similarly, we felt that 28 was an appropriate age for Hee-soo.
At first, I started with the thought of "What if Moon Young and Sang Tae met?" Moon Young sees Sang Tae as someone who is like a friend, but not just a friend because he is an adult. It's not a simple friendship, but more of a feeling of camaraderie that I thought would be important to Moon Young. Moon Young is still young and has just passed through adolescence, and relationships formed at that age can last a lifetime and be intense. Similarly, I think that Sang Tae also needed Moon Young, even though she suddenly appeared in his life. I believe that Moon Young's presence is also inherent within Sang Tae.
Actually, I don't think that staying silent and talking a lot are necessarily different from each other. Sometimes, even more is conveyed through silence than through words.Actually, I don't think that staying silent and talking a lot are necessarily different from each other. Sometimes, even more is conveyed through silence than through words.
I think you have to find your own way to open up in this era of communication breakdown. There is no set method, but I believe it's important to say and live what you want. You have to find your own way to express yourself. It could be a conversation where you can be really honest and open with someone, or writing a letter, or even using social media.
The reason for editing out the kissing scene between Moonyoung and Heesoo when shortening the movie to 40 minutes was primarily to save time and focus on Moonyoung's emotional wounds and growth, narrowing down the story for the sake of compression. Therefore, eliminating the kiss served as the most significant role in the editing process.
I wanted to capture the emotions that both characters were feeling during the kiss scene. Since Moon-young has not had many experiences exploring her own identity, I thought that her feelings for Hee-soo could be love, or it could just be human affection. Similarly, Hee-soo has struggled with not just her sexual identity, but her overall identity. That's why I didn't want to focus on the fact that the two characters were both female, but instead wanted to show a natural and authentic connection that transcends gender and sexuality. I wanted to portray a natural bond between two people, regardless of gender, in a way that felt authentic and genuine.
It's difficult to define exactly what kind of emotions were exchanged between the two characters, as it's possible that their relationship may have included both friendship and love. The time frame in the movie, which spans only a few days or weeks, may not have been enough for them to fully understand their relationship or emotions. It's only at the point where their feelings become clear that the movie ends. This is reflective of real life, where we may feel both friendship and something more for someone, and then wonder if our feelings are complicated by their gender or other factors. Over time, those emotions may evolve or disappear altogether. In <Moon Young>, it feels like the characters were given the natural time they needed to explore their emotions and relationship.
I first saw actor Jung Hyeon in a short film. We were both in the theater department at the same university (Seoul Institute of the Arts), but we didn't have a personal relationship. However, he was so good at acting that I recommended him to a friend who was directing a short film. On set, I found him to be a very trustworthy person and an actor. When I was thinking about which actor would be good for the role of Heesoo in "Moon Young," it didn't take me long to think of Jung Hyeon. His unorthodox acting is his biggest charm. Many of my expectations about how he would act in certain situations were overturned.
If I had to choose the best scene for each actor, I would say that the scene where Jung Hyun, Hee-soo, asks Moon-young if she is mute and then kisses her is the best shot. As for Kim Tae Ri, it would be the motorcycle scene. I didn't know what kind of expression she would make in that scene because it was so cold during the shoot, making it hard to convey emotions through facial expressions. But as soon as the camera rolled, her expression changed completely despite the cold. I was impressed by her professionalism. Another scene where she did well was when Moon-young's father falls and she tries to catch a taxi, but ends up walking and dragging her bag behind her with determination. Her acting in that scene was excellent.
I would like to make movies that feel like they have to be made now, or they will disappear. In an interview, a novelist said the phrase "if not now, then it will evaporate," and it stuck with me. I feel like there are stories that I need to tell, and if I don't tell them now, they will be lost forever.
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