Interview with director Kyung Sok Kim

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I was in the hospital for a long time when I was 18 years old due to a lung illness. I realized that life could be very short, and I decided that I would leave something valuable before I am gone. After I got out of the hospital, I started watching a lot of films created by master filmmakers, and I was impressed by the fact that they were communicating with me even though they were not here anymore. That’s when I recognized that I want to be a filmmaker like them.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I think it’s not essential, but it definitely helps, considering my personal experiences. Especially if you want to be a writer-director, it will save up a lot of time in terms of learning the techniques of storytelling, directing, etc. Also, I believe the best part of the film schools is that you can meet and collaborate with many promising artists who can be your future teammates.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

For me, it’s always harder to get things started. As soon as I start my engine, keep going forward is much easier for me. When I see myself procrastinate on something, I usually try to talk to myself in the mirror and persuade him. It doesn’t always work out, but at least, I could understand why I am afraid of starting such things.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

The greatest lesson that I learned is that collaborating well with your team is very important. Before I attended AFI, I used to make films almost by myself. Of course, there were crew members and actors who helped me, but at least for the creative decisions, I didn’t really know how to collaborate with other people.  However, in the first year at AFI, I was forced to collaborate with different disciplines and I learned how to effectively communicate with my team members to make the best film possible. And I realized that great collaboration leads you to make much better films than the films you make by yourself.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

I was very fortunate enough to not make many compromises throughout the process of making Furthest From. Before the shoot, I expressed my feelings to some of my team members that I really don’t want to compromise. Even though sometimes we were out of time and had to hurry a bit on set, we tried to get everything we planned while not sacrificing the quality of the performance or our vision.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Since we decided to shoot in a real trailer instead of a set to capture the actors’ authentic performance, my DP and I had to find creative ways to make it look not repetitive. It was truly a challenging experience, but we didn’t hear any audience member complaints that they felt the images were boring or repetitive. So now I take it as another great learning experience.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Our core team members were all from AFI and we became best friends during the process of making this film. We were close to each other already, but in order to understand our respective artistic senses better, we had a screening every week showing our favorite films that are related to Furthest From. I think it helped us communicate better when discussing and making artistic choices for the film.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

I’m the person who believes that films can’t exist without audiences. Of course, I don’t think one movie can satisfy all the people. But as soon as the filmmakers set up the expected audience groups for their movies, I think they need to do a good amount of research on them and apply that to their work.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

I think film festivals are very important to independent filmmakers. They give you great opportunities that no other place could give you. Especially for short films, it’s almost impossible to reach out to good numbers of audiences without the help of film festivals. For me as well, if I haven’t got the chance to screen my films at film festivals, I don’t think I could have met so many audiences and filmmakers all around the world. Getting accepted into festivals is already great, but if you could promote your film well during the festival period, I’m sure you’ll get more opportunities to make your next films.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I guess that depends on their personalities, but I prefer to be original, and I also prefer to watch original films. I believe that everyone lives in their own unique universe and that’s why each other’s universe is special and interesting. If they try to mimic other people’s universes, I don’t think it would be interesting anymore.