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Ko - production in Busan
  • Considering Content in the New Normal Era, Kim Donghyun, Executive Director of Dexter Studios & CEO of Dexter Pictures, Co-producer of Escape from Mogadishu
  • by KIM Subin /  Dec 28, 2021


    Escape from Mogadishu, the most beloved Korean movie in theaters this year, is the fifth film Dexter Studios produced. Dexter Studios, which made something that was not in the world like the gorilla playing baseball in Mr. Go or hell in Along with the Gods, proved its production capacity beyond technology through the true-story based film Escape from Mogadishu. Dexter Studios is at the center of the latest issues in the media industry, such as virtual production technology or metaverse, and is heralding a wide range of performances as a content producer. 


    - How was this year for Dexter Studios?

    = First of all, I would like to express my condolences to all film industry officials suffering from COVID-19, including Dexter Studios. 2021 was a meaningful year for Dexter Studios. Marking the 10th anniversary of its foundation amid the rapidly changing market, we've spent this year looking back the past 10 years while preparing for the next 10 years. We also met the audience with Escape from Mogadishu we had prepared for a long time. Despite the unfavorable factors of the 4th pandemic of COVID-19, Escape from Mogadishu achieved the inspiring result by attracting the largest audience among the films released in 2021. This has become another significant milestone for Dexter Studios to move forward as a comprehensive content company. Besides, in the situation of preparing for the metaverse era beyond visualization of video content, many people visited Dexter Studios as an essential partner, and we had to consider the role of Dexter Studios in the New Normal era.


    - Dexter Studios has produced a total of five films, starting with Mr. Go in 2013. Also, the Along with the Gods series achieved a remarkable result, attracting 10 million viewers.

    = Dexter Studios focuses on creating 'Dexter-like' content rather than prolific, and all of our members feel strong pride in this point. The meaning of 'Dexter-like' here is not simply making a film that contains a lot of VFX. It refers to a film that can maximize its value with an optimal solution when imaging the emotions and fun created by creators. As a result, in our portfolio, I think we could have many masterpieces that required a long time for the plan, advance preparation, production, and post-production.



    - Unlike the previous films that created the virtual character in Mr. Go, the worldview in Along with the Gods, and the situation in Ashfall, Escape from Mogadishu is based on the historical event. What was the difference in the production process?

    = For the previous films Dexter Studios made, VFX was the key due to the nature of the genre films (Gorilla of Mr. Go, Hell of Along with the Gods, and a natural disaster of Ashfall). On the other hand, Escape from Mogadishu required a realistic description of the background of the time most. So, we minimized the VFX work at the production stage, focusing on the actual special effects and filming. While lowering the dependence on VFX, we focused more on the sound and color correction by increasing the proportion of the shots taken on the location to convey the actual event, which took place in the 1990s, more vividly.


    - While producing new films, Dexter Studios has taken on new challenges every time in terms of VFX technology. I wonder what new attempts Dexter Studios made for Escape from Mogadishu technically or besides technology.

    = Most of all, Dexter Studios could be more confident in content planning and co-production through Escape from Mogadishu. Until now, Dexter Studios has been steadily working on developing items in various formats at the planning stage and matching them with the creators who can best express the individuality of the films. Through the effort, we were able to connect Escape from Mogadishu with Director Ryoo Seungwan, one of the Korean representative directors. The new attempt we tried for the work is the co-producing operation method. Until now, Dexter Studios has co-produced films by running our own production. However, in the case of Escape from Mogadishu, we divided R&R on co-production with Filmmaker R&K in advance. Filmmaker R&K was in charge of the overall production of the film, while Dexter Studios was in charge of the post-production and the parts besides shooting. Ultimately, thanks to the stable production of Filmmaker R&K, we could perfectly reproduce Somalia in the 1990s by filming entirely on location in Morocco. In that sense, Escape from Mogadishu is a work that we could realize the synergy effect and efficiency of co-production.


    - I'd like to know the reason you decided to produce Escape from Mogadishu.

    = Based on its motto, 'Imagination into Reality,' Dexter Studios has been making great efforts to choose challenging works and advance further to turn imagination into reality. As a result, we work mainly for films that are more cinematic and have dramatic power. In that sense, we judged the story of Escape from Mogadishu, which dramatized the actual incident in Somalia in the 1990s, could be a suitable subject matter for a commercial film. That's the reason we decided to produce it.



    - Tell us the background of joining Director Ryoo Seungwan and Filmmaker R&K.

    = Dexter Studios planned and developed the scenario for Escape from Mogadishu from 2013, and around 2018, we proposed Director Ryoo Seungwan to direct it. That's how we carried out the co-production with Filmmaker R&K. Since the Somali civil war was the background, producing Escape from Mogadishu required a lot of budget for overseas locations, shooting scenes, and visual effects, etc. And we judged Director Ryoo was the perfect one who could lead the staff members participating in this kind of huge film. Thanks to Director Ryoo's directing ability to conceive and direct action scenes in the movie enough to be evaluated as an 'action maestro,' the chaotic civil war situation in Escape from Mogadishu could be dramatically described, and the humane messages based on mass appeal could be delivered to the audience successfully.


    - What does Dexter Studios consider most when deciding to produce a film.

    = Since Dexter Studios started on VFX, we have mainly produced the films requiring the visual effects most. And at the center of it, many films were created by the synergy made between Director Kim Yonghwa's outstanding creative capabilities and Dexter Studios' technology. In recent years, as both movies and TV dramas are required to have a high level of visual quality, Dexter Studios is also planning and developing various works beyond specific genres or platforms. I believe it is worth choosing a work if it pursues novelty and fun even if it does not require a huge amount of VFX. However, since Dexter Studios has many artists who feel joy in overcoming limitations rather than doing the job anybody can do, we tend to carefully choose a work that can be a game-changer.




    - Dexter Studios launched Studio D1, a virtual production studio, in November, and it is said that you're also expanding DI and the sound studio line for OTT. What kind of changes will it bring to Dexter Studios' content business?

    = In addition to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the domestic video content production environment has changed rapidly in the past one to two years due to aggressive investment by global OTT, including Netflix. Planning and producing OTT and drama projects at leading film production companies is no longer an unfamiliar case. Moreover, in recent years, the quality of the post-production process has become critical as the viewers' expectation has become higher. As a result, more and more production companies in the film industry are already looking for Dexter's DI and Liveton, which are considered the best. In fact, based on the work performed in the first half of the year, DI increased 35% year-on-year while Liveton increased 49% year-on-year, and the OTT content volume, which is under work or about to be released, more than doubled year-on-year. As the number of orders other than movies has increased rapidly, we had to expand DI and the sound studio line for OTT only. With this expansion, Dexter Studios is proud to have a complete comprehensive studio system that can flexibly cope with all post-production processes regardless of media or platforms.


    Also, D1, the virtual production studio, can be seen as a change to cope with the application of the 52-hour workweek policy, restrictions on domestic and overseas locations due to COVID-19, and the emergence of new genres. Through the virtual production studio, which goes beyond the simple work of synthesizing backgrounds and perfectly blends characters and environments, we can overcome the limitations of creators' production by producing exotic scenery, as well as areas or environments that cannot be filmed. Above all, the virtual production studio can increase the completeness of the entire work by being together with the filmmaker from the pre-production stage. In this sense, I think the future utilization of the virtual production studio is endless. Director Kim Yonghwa's new film The Moon, which is in the post-production stage now, is the first work of D1 and is currently reviewing and preparing new projects in various fields such as movies, TV dramas, OTT, and advertisements. In addition, we're planning to establish D2, the second studio, seeing a virtual production studio as a change in production paradigm, not a temporary trend.


    - Tell us what Dexter Studios' content business headquarters is planning for 2022, furthermore, what the content headquarters is aiming for in the long run.

    = Dexter Studios decided to focus its planning and production capabilities on its subsidiary Dexter Pictures to focus on the content business and strengthen cooperation in the future. As part of that, I am in charge of the executive director of Dexter Studios and CEO of Dexter Pictures. The projects currently Dexter Studio Content Headquarters are dealing with will be carried out by Dexter Pictures. In addition to the existing film projects, the company will plan and develop new projects for dramas and OTT through Dexter Pictures. Through this process, it is expected to showcase the first original series produced by Dexter Pictures and Dexter Studios as early as 2023.

    Along with the parent company Dexter Studios, Dexter Pictures is considering various types of packaging, including not only producing masterpiece film content but also making large drama projects for global platforms and simultaneous planning and producing projects for movies and TV dramas, etc. In addition, a pool of producers that can plan and develop various genres of works will be formed in the company to present 'Made from Dexter,' regardless of platforms and formats.


    - What work can the viewers meet first?

    = Currently, Dexter Pictures is preparing for six film projects, six drama-OTT projects, and three global projects. It is also co-developing a number of works with partners, including Blaad Studios. The first work to meet the viewers next year under the name of Dexter Pictures is likely to be a co-produced drama series. And I think I will be able to deliver good news soon with a movie project, too.


    - How did you first start your career in the content field?

    = I entered the content field as a film marketer. Just like those entering the field, I fell in love with the charm of movies, and I realized many people were working in various fields behind it. After experiencing marketing, I learned about the value chains in the film industry, such as distribution, production, and investment, and I experienced various fields of the film industry, dreaming of becoming an Executive producer.



    - Can you pick an event that became a turning point of your career or a memorable event while working?

    = While marketing films, I could look into the industry little by little, and I fell into the mechanism of theater screening and distribution, a measure of movie box office success at that time. Meanwhile, after joining the CGV program team, I could expand my view of the movie industry even more. At that time, I saw many films as a theater programmer and modeled them by collecting various variables for box office prediction. Furthermore, I could make various attempts and achievements by taking the lead in introducing and operating IMAX in multiplexes. And while working for the content business department that planned and developed dramas in ON Media, a broadcasting company that disappeared after the merger with CJ E&M, I became interested in drama planning and developing after seeing the interest in drama content and the possibility of market growth besides films. In 2010, while working for a KT affiliate, I witnessed the signs of changes in the theater-oriented box office industry while watching the rapidly growing IPTV market. Above all, however, joining Dexter Studios, which has grown brilliantly, will be the biggest turning point in my life.


    - What kind of works do you want to make in the future as a content planning and producer?

    = We plan to continue to create large-scale works that will inherit the remarkable achievements of the content Dexter Studio has made so far. At the same time, we would like to present content that will satisfy the values of novelty and fun that can be represented by the keywords 'VFX' and 'tent pole.' Please pay a lot of attention and support to the works that will be introduced by a new brand, Dexter Pictures, in the future.

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