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Ko - production in Busan
  • JIN Mo-young Director of MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER
  • by LEE Sook-myung /  Jan 05, 2015
  • "There's no need to be caught up in film scores"

    My Love, Don‘t Cross that River has set new bars to all diversity film records in Korea. It passed the record set by hit documentary Old Partner (2009), which had 2.9 million admissions, and by January 5th, the film had collected 4.36 million admissions according to the Korean Film Council’s Integrated Ticket Sales Network. At the speed it’s running right now, it is likely that the film will lure in 5 million admissions. KoBiz met with the director of the hit indie documentary film, JIN Mo-young.
    The elderly couple in My Love, Don’t Cross that River was already introduced through a TV show. What made you think you had to cinematize it?
    I’m an independent producer. I started working in broadcast in 1997 and this year was my 18th year as an independent producer. So I know the workings of TV programs well. To deal with the couple’s huge story on an instantaneous level wasn’t enough. Humanity is universal and has a strong message, which made me think that it’s the perfect subject for a film. I wanted to create contents where the whole theater would focus just on this elderly couple. Putting aside time to think about life and death has great meaning. Since I wanted to produce content that could be widely consumed, I though the story was global and could move the hearts of everyone.
    The lack of voiceover is the biggest difference between the film and the TV episode.
    I didn’t want to use an overpowering voice because I didn’t want to impose a specific idea to the audiences. Once you use narration, there are temptations to create stories that are more than what the subject has said. When the subject is looking blankly at the sky, the voiceover would keep on talking, but no one really knows what the subject is thinking about. That’s why we decided to stick to just the voices of the subjects. It might be less friendly, but it is more realistic.
    You’ve been there through all stages of the film, from planning, shooting, to distribution. As an independent documentary director, what was the most difficult part?
    We didn’t have any ‘seed money’. For nine months, we didn’t have a cent for the production budget. This is the same for all independent documentary filmmakers. Diversity is key in documentary films. Although it costs relatively less compared to commercial films, the result could be quite amazing. Therefore, more should be investing in independent documentary films, but many do not consider doing so. I hope that this could change in the future.
    It must have felt like a miracle to beat Interstellar and Exodus: Gods and Kings
    We weren’t the ones who beat them. I’m not the one to talk about film scores, rankings, and winnings and there is no reason to be interested in that either. The important think about independent documentary filmmaking is that instead of being competitive in the market, it should be true to its original objective.

    Have you decided on your next project?
    I’m currently in the middle of a project called Outsider (direct translation). We started shooting in April of last year, and it’s about North Korean defectors. They ran away from the tightening grasp of capitalism and socialism through a life-threatening process. They hide in South Korea and work day and night with their life on the line. It’s a story about a family on the borderline between being native and alien. I think the film will be finished in the fall and it’ll be released if we’re lucky.
    Are you shooting it yourself again?
    The cinematographer and I will both shoot. There are always unforeseen incidents with documentary filmmaking and often times you have to shoot it yourself. Also, the subject is likely to be uncomfortable with too many staff members around and will be harder to open their hearts. It’s usually better with a small crew.
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