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Our Nineteen and Each's Twenty, Directors Lee Jaeeun & Lim Jisun of Kim Min-young of the Report Card

Sep 20, 2022
  • Writerby KIM Subin
  • View1479

"We wanted to show the courage that could express the feelings of love in the middle of being hurt"

 


 

Junghee, Minyoung, Susanna. The three friends of the acrostic poem club become 20 years old in their own circumstances. Instead of going to college, Junghee, working as a part-timer, goes to see Minyoung, who has become a college student in Seoul. Unlike Junghee, who is excited to meet her friend, Minyoung is only focusing on writing email to correct her grades. Based on unique humor and broad empathy, the film Kim Min-young of the Report Card depicts the scenery of the 20-year-old girls, which does not flow as they wish. The film received the Grand Prize at the Jeonju International Film Festival and the Seoul International Women's Film Festival last year, praised by the audience. We had an interview with Director Lee Jaeeun and Director Lim Jisun, who showed their unique world through their debut film.

 

We heard Kim Min-young of the Report Card was planned as a short film at the beginning. Tell us why it was extended into a feature film. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: The short story was about Junghee's visiting Minyoung's house in Seoul and leaving a report card while feeling sad. We changed the main characters' ages from early to mid-20s to 19 and 20 years old. In the setting where Junghee gives up college and makes a different choice from her peers, we could have a lot to talk about. Before this movie, Director Jisun and I each made about 10 minutes of short films, and that was all. To be honest, we didn't think there should be specific differences between a short film and a long one. And that's why we were able to film this story without fear. We made it thinking that we could do everything we wanted to do in a feature film.

= Director Lim Jisun: When we planned it as a short film, the story begins when Junghee is going to Minyoung's house right away. However, extending it into a feature film, we added some background stories at the beginning part of the film because we thought the story would be more alive if we showed Junghee and Minyoung's high school days and Junghee's working part-time at a tennis court after graduating from high school. We received some funds for short film production, and we thought that we would make a feature film with the support money at the beginning of the movie. Probably, we weren't thinking straight at that time. (Laughter) Since the episodes became longer, the money was too insufficient to make a feature film, and we filled it with our own money.

 


 

How did you write the script? 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: We wrote it together no matter what happened instead of combining the parts we wrote separately. We edited the script in a similar way as well as the script. Wandering around cafes, we talked about all the ideas and made the script using only one laptop. We thought that was the best way without any misunderstanding. Since we have two main characters and two directors, we could take on a more suitable character, improvise situational plays, and read the script as the characters. 

= Director Lim Jisun: In line with the term 'co-directing,' we discussed every single detail together. Even if it slowed down the process, we could start filming with everything agreed on. In the process of discussing continuously, we could come up with more ideas, too.

 

Where did the idea such as an acrostic poem club come from? Did you two use the writings that you wrote at the age of the main characters? 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: All lines were written while we were working on the script together. We also brought some ideas from what we had experienced in the past. I lived in the dormitory for a long time, but I still remember a few strange things that I shared with my friends. I used those memories a lot.

= Director Lim Jisun: The lines were made to suit the characters. However, some ideas, such as the acrostic poem club, sitcom-like imagination, and the imagination of living in the forest, are derived from Director Lee Jaeeun's wild imagination she usually has.

 

We heard you two met in 2017 at the film directing workshop of the Hankyoreh Academy. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: I met Director Lim Jisun for the first time in 2017, and we began filming Kim Min-young of the Report Card in 2019. While living our daily lives, we met steadily to work on the movie. We met on the weekend and worked on it.

= Director Lim Jisun: We did not have a deadline to film Kim Min-young of the Report Card, and some of the work had to wait because we were busy with our studies all the time. But, that was a good thing for us because we could make the movie, talking freely without any pressure or stress.

 


 

Few actors appear in your movie who are familiar to the public through media acting. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: We wanted the actors to be at the age of the characters, so we actually looked for the age group. And since we wanted to find actors who don't seem to be acting and have daily tones, we cast new actors who didn't have much acting experience. We also thought it would be better to work with newbie actors since it is our first time directing a feature film. We didn't feel negative aspects due to lack of experience while making the film.

= Director Lim Jisun: I also wanted the drama to be not too much dramatic but daily toned. So, we thought that the actors without much experience could make the daily tone we wanted more easily. Instead of thinking about finding known faces, we focused on finding the right actors for the characters.

 

The production design concept for the dormitory room is quite curious since it reveals the main characters' tastes and personalities. And a photo of figure skater Kim Yuna on the window stands out. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: The production design is the part we invested the most money in, even though we didn't have enough budget. Since we wanted a realistic dormitory room rather than a cinematic set, we googled a lot of dormitory pictures. And we bought small and realistic props in the room of a real high school student. The space in the film is a real dormitory room. Originally, it was a room for 4 persons with two bunk beds, but it was renovated following the structure of the dormitory room where I actually lived in. In a double room, two people sit with their backs to each other and study, and the beds are side by side, so the person who goes to bed later turns off the light. And I thought that Minyoung is a character who admires cool women or celebrities. That's why I put Kim Yuna's picture on the window. If you look at Minyoung's desk in the movie, you can see pictures of female idols and famous quotes. I thought Minyoung is the one who thinks such things are cool.

 

Then, we're also curious about the art concept of Minyoung's room in Seoul as a college student. 

= Director Lim Jisun: We had to fill it in from scratch. Since it is not Minyoung's but her brother's house, we started from the concept that Minyoung was handed down what her brother left. So, we filled the room with the props men would like, such as plastic models, figures, car handle games, and keyboards. Through the family photos with only men, we tried to convey what kind of stress Minyoung would have by just looking at the space.

 


 

Tell us why you chose the tennis court as Junghee's first workplace.

= Director Lee Jaeeun: Since my dad loves tennis so much, a tennis court is familiar to me. That's why the first thing that came to my mind was working as a part-timer at a tennis court. Thinking about where the character Junghee would want to work instead of going to college, I thought a peaceful but energetic tennis court was suitable for her.

 

Tell us why you set Minyoung's dream to be an idol singer. 

= Director Lim Jisun: I thought that Minyoung is the character who could have such a dream in a difficult situation. Rather than a dream that can be revealed and said proudly, it is a dream that she secretly holds in her heart under an uncertain situation. Being 20 years old may be an ambiguous age where she can have lingering feelings about starting or folding the dream of being an idol. That is also one of the conditions Minyoung has.

 

In the film, the actors reenact the episodes of the sitcom, You Can't Stop Them Anyway. It is a brilliant and brave way to melt the existing stories into the film by reenactment. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: We wanted to use the footage if it was possible, but it was expensive to pay the fee. So, we had no choice but to reenact it. When we decided to reenact it, we thought it was a good idea. There is another world tone in Junghee's imagination, and she doesn't know some of the friends appearing in the scenes she imagines. So, I thought that showing them all together could show Junghee's world more clearly.

= Director Lim Jisun: I also love the scene best. It's a scene where friends who have no reason to get together. They are the people, who Junghee thinks she cares about a lot, and they gather and have a blast in the scene, which makes us viewers feel good while watching it, too.

 

The sense of humor of the film is very impressive. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: While filming the movie, we artificially didn't seek for any scenes, thinking, "It has to be funny here. Do we have anything hilarious?" We naturally used the ideas that came out in the process of writing the script and making plans. Since such scenes make the movie natural, the audience thinks it's hilarious, I think.

= Director Lim Jisun: Since the tone of the movie is a little unique, we preferred the takes that show clumsiness, such as the scene stuttering or accidentally dropping the scissors when cutting the rice cake. We thought such scenes could be more suitable for the tone of the film.

 


 

Although it's not the main theme, we can sense the romantic moods among the 3 friends. However, all of them seem to be misfired. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: Since the characters are only 20 years old, I thought they would feel a lot of those emotions, and I wanted to put those feelings in the film a little bit. Some scenes of Junghee and Jungil's romance had to be cut out to focus more on the friendship between Junghee and Minyoung. Actually, Jungil is confused about his relationship with Junghee between romance and friendship. Jungil is the only peer Junghee can meet in a place where there are only married women and married men. We didn't decide on purpose to leave it to the audience's judgment whether their relationship is a romance or not.

= Director Lim Jisun: In the transition period at the age of 20, such feelings occur naturally. I wanted the audience to feel the loneliness that comes from the misfire if their relationship doesn't work well. In particular, I can feel a special affection for Paul from Susanna.

 

The writings containing the theme of the film open and close the movie. Tell us how you felt about the acrostic poem using the name 'Kim-Min-Young' and the letter Junghee left to Minyoung. 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: About the acrostic poem, we were very determined to show Minyoung's character from the moment the film started. I thought we could definitely introduce the character through Minyoung, who makes a little self-mocking acrostic poem with her name. It also hints at the stories of the movie. In addition, we hoped that the last letter would contain mixed feelings, such as Junghee's sadness toward Minyoung, affection for Minyoung, and some kind of support. In fact, the report card/letter starts as an objective item at first, but the tone gradually changes and goes to the words that Junghee wants to talk about but can't speak out. We started to make this film to show Junghee's courage toward Minyoung, which expresses all her feelings of love even though she feels disappointed by Minyoung. So, we tried our best to reveal Junghee's courage from her deep heart in the letter.

= Director Lim Jisun: The part we changed most while editing is the narration of the report card. While the letter expressed Junghee's disappointment to Minyoung, we also hoped it would be a story that could return to Junghee as time went by. At the same time, we thought it would be nice to touch the characters experiencing the lonely 20-year-old age once in a while through the letter, including the images of Susanna and Jungil. That's why we shot Susanna's scene additionally, and the story was added during the post-recording process. It's a scene where we put a lot of effort.

 

As film directors, what charms do you like from each other? 

= Director Lim Jisun: Director Lee Jaeeun has a lot of imagination, and that's why there are so many scenes that I like, I think. Also, she is very meticulous and tenacious. If I had done the work alone, I would have given up right away, but her tenacity made us do many things possible together.

= Director Lee Jaeeun: The MBTI test says I am Type F (Emotion-oriented) and Director Lim is Type T (Thinking-oriented). When writing a script or directing a film, I think about the emotions of the characters, and I am not good at thinking about the structural aspects of the story or other details, but Director Lim Jisun is good at those things, and she took care of everything for that. I also think I was able to finish the film without giving up because Director Lim Jisun was with me.

 


 

Any events, figures, or films that affected you to become a filmmaker? 

= Director Lee Jaeeun: When I watch a movie in the theater, I feel alienated because my laughter code is different from others, especially when I watch a comedy film. Then, when the film Bleak Night was in full swing, I watched independent films for the first time at that time and started to look for diversity films, thinking the world of cinema is very diverse. Realizing that many movies deal with various stories other than commercial movies, I thought I could talk about myself, and I wanted to talk about my stories. From that time, I think I wanted to make a movie. Although I didn't major in film directing, I kept thinking about making movies. So I went to university for about 3 years, took a leave of absence, studied at Hankyoreh Film Academy, and made a movie during vacation. I like Director Nobuhiro Yamashita's films.

= Director Lim Jisun: I became interested in making videos while preparing for a UCC advertisement contest with my friends in middle school. Although I was physically weak, I could stay up all night editing videos. I also felt that I was interested in coming up with ideas and creating something with my friends together. Nevertheless, I didn't think of making a movie because I thought it would be too difficult and I couldn't dare to do it. After twists and turns, I was happy to go to Hankyoreh Film Academy and shoot a movie myself. I think that made me major in film now. I've liked collaboration since I was little, and I like Director Lee Changdong's works.

 

How have you been doing now? 

- Director Lee Jaeeun: I started working in January and have been living as an office worker. When I first started this movie, I was majoring in a different subject. After filming the movie, I just wrote something for about a year. However, as I'm having another job and doing movies, I feel that I have more energy, and it makes me crave for making movies. I think it's more suitable for me to live a normal daily life while making movies.

= Director Lim Jisun: I'm still in school. For my graduation work, I have to attend school for a whole year, so I am taking a leave of absence now. I recently worked on a trailer for the Seoul International Women's Film Festival with Director Lee Jaeeun. It reminded me of the days when we filmed Kim Min-young of the Report Card a lot.

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