I catch up with Minkyung Sung, winner of the Reelshow April Student Film Competition with her film The Exit.
Hi Minkyung, many congratulations on winning The Reelshow April Online Student Film Competition. with your film The Exit . Tell me a little bit about your background. What got you into filmmaking, and who do you draw your inspiration from?
As a Philosophy major at Emory University, I’ve always been interested in ethical issues. I believe that many of the solutions for these matters are rooted in legal activism and education. But neither law or education changes easily. Until it changes, I think building awareness is the key. It was then I began thinking about how powerful a film can be when it comes to spreading the message. I want to become a filmmaker who tells stories that need to be told.
Where did you get the idea for your film? You wrote the screenplay, how did you go about your research for the project?
I read a CNN article about a twelve-year-old girl who escaped from the sex industry only to come back later to become a pimp herself. It wasn’t the sex work itself, but its vicious cycle that terrified me. There really exists no “exit” for many girls who actually want to escape. I mainly researched news articles based on interviews with girls who had experienced the sex industry. I think they really helped me creating realistic details for my film.
Tell me about the casting process, did you use professional actors or friends?
Luckily, all my friends turned out to be fantastic actors/actresses
What did you shoot the film on, and with which particular equipment?
How long was your shoot?
Where was it shot, and were there any issues with locations? Did you use University facilities?
At first, I wanted to shoot the first and the last scene at the Atlanta airport, instead of at Emory parking deck. However, I was denied a permission to shoot at the airport “only” because of the “subject matter.” I was greatly frustrated. I realized that it is such ignorance of people that allow these horrible things to continue.
What did you edit the film on?
Final Cut Pro
What is your ambition when you graduate? What aspect of the film industry do you aspire to be involved in and where do you want to work?
I love philosophy, so I might probably go for Masters degree in philosophy. Yet, of course, my ultimate goal is to become a filmmaker who reveals stories “that need to be told.” A single film may not be able to change the world. I don’t expect everyone to do something. I simply want my film to be a meaningful step–though tiny it may be–in making people less ignorant and more aware of lives around them.
You graduate from Emory University in 2013. Can you tell us a bit about your years at university, what course are you taking and if you think film school is essential for your career path?
Many of the filmmaker I admire never went to the film school. Personally, I think critical thinking skills and open-minded-ness are the most important virtues for the filmmaker. Film schools can certainly teach you these, but other schools as well. But I do think that film school can be quite helpful in learning techniques and tools of filmmaking.
How are you finding things since winning the ReelShow competition?
My film got more views! More people are “aware” of the story! (right?)
Who is your favourite filmmaker?…. and why
A Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, who directed “Oldboy,” is my favourite. He tells stories of deeper human nature with such unique vision and hauntingly beautiful mise-en-scene.
Finally, what’s the last film that you saw and the best film that you have seen in the last twelve months?
“The Hunger Games” was the last film I watched at the theater… The best film I’ve seen in the last twelve months is Korean independent film “Jesus Hospital”.
Many thanks for talking to us Minkyung, we wish you all the best for the future.