“His Majesty has once said that men have their duties.
However, I am no man.
I am but a beast.
You may discuss the duties of men in front of me, but I will not understand a thing.
As such, do not try to shake me with words stained with ink.
I have more faith in the barks of the dog over there than your three-inch tongue.”

The character inside the screen laughed heartily in his tattered rags.
The low tone and speech of the character were low and echo-y which was unique to historical dramas.

“His Majesty has once said.”

He lowered his voice and tried imitating the voice, but it didn’t sound cool at all.
There was a gap between him and the man in the story, who had transcended mortal desires after residing from power.
It wasn’t simply a difference in speech.
It was the difference in harboring emotions, the difference in technique, and the difference in the sheer level of acting.

Maru resumed the drama and continued watching.
The reason crow-tits try to chase the stork despite knowing that its legs would break is because that is its path and an objective it has to challenge at least once.
If they were afraid of breaking their legs, they would never be more than a crow-tit.

He rested his chin against his hand and focused on the character on the screen.
This was the Wednesday-Thursday drama made by RBS.
It was a historical drama with hints of fantasy elements such as sorcery.
Unlike the long-running historical dramas on YBS, many young actors appeared in it and it was targeted towards the younger generation.
The opinion on the internet was rather decent, and the viewing rates were also decent with around 20% viewership.
RBS had been imitating YBS by airing historical dramas until a few years ago when they changed lanes to target the younger generation, and now, they were on completely different tracks.

After watching an RBS historical drama series that aired 2 years ago from beginning to end, Maru sighed slightly and turned off his monitor.

“Tomorrow, huh.”

He got a call from Moonjoong yesterday and found out that there will be an audition in RBS.
Although his role was nothing major, due to the characteristics of historical dramas in general, if an actor is out of place, the entire scene would look awkward, so he was told that the producers and writers of the drama were quite thorough with all the actors that had any lines.
Meaning, that it was likely that the writer or the producer would probably be present at the audition.

“Aah, aah.”

Since his role was that of a beggar, he didn’t need such a cool tone of speech, but a tone of speech that fitted the era which was probably a requirement.
Maru recorded his voice at higher and lower pitches than his usual voice.
Listening to his own voice directly echoing inside his head and a machine-recorded voice would sound completely different.
Even people that had pride in their voices would feel rather perplexed when they heard a recording of their own voice.
This was why he had to listen to recordings of his own voice until he was perfectly able to understand his voice from the perspective of others.
After repeating that process, he would reach a point where he would no longer feel unfamiliar with listening to his recorded voice.
Only then could he say that he had ‘found’ his voice.

Even Maru, who had repeated this training for a long time, felt rather perplexed and awkward when he heard his recorded voice with emotions in it.
He was definitely better than when he first started off, but there was a unique crack in his voice whenever his voice got agitated, so he was thinking about how to rein in such an effect.

‘I guess I’m rather fortunate that my voice has changed already.’

Maru touched his neck and put down the recorder.
After stretching his neck out a little, he went to the kitchen and turned on the kettle.
He poured the boiling hot water into a cup about halfway and mixed it with cold water to make it warm.
He drank that water to loosen the tension in his throat a little.
Ever since he heard that it was just as important for actors to manage their throats as singers, he started drinking warm water instead of cold water.

When warmth spread around his body, his muscles relaxed subconsciously.
Thinking that he was in the perfect condition to practice vocally, he slowly started voicing out.
He had the urge to shout out in one go, but he couldn’t do so since he was in an apartment.
The heat he brought up from his stomach mixed with his breath and exited his mouth.
The point was to prolong the sound as much as possible without making it sound too light.
A voice that played above his head was not good, and it would be better if the voice moved around his knee-level.
These were Miso’s words.

He walked after producing a ‘hur’ sound.
He walked around the house while imagining himself pushing down the minute vibrations in his mouth into his stomach.
Before his voice became like a mosquito’s due to lack of breath, he inhaled again and continued voicing out.
Narrowing the vocal cords to create sound would damage his throat.
An actor did not need frequent uses of vocal techniques but only a stable voice.
They had to remember the state when their throat was the most relaxed, and voice out in a way that didn’t ruin that form.

He heard the door lock opening.
Bada had returned from going shopping.
Bada looked at Maru and frowned.

“What are you doing, oppa?”


Ignoring Bada’s gaze, he continued his practice in pursuit of an even voice.
He heard Bada say ‘oh my god, crazy’ in her room, but he tried to be understanding.
If she barked at him again, he could just use his ace, which was none other than the photo he took with Sungjae.
If he showed her that, she would probably come up to him and say ‘brother~’ in a cute voice.

He felt a little dizzy.
He stopped voicing out and evened his breathing.
The basics were always boring and looked meaningless.
However, Maru was aware of the power of basics that had piled up over a long time.

“Han Bada.
Let’s eat,” he spoke as he turned on the stove.

* * *

Producer Han Changsung stared at the cups piled up on the side.
He couldn’t remember how many cups of coffee he had today.
He felt as though coffee and sugar flowed inside his body rather than blood.

“Get me some coffee.”

Changsung asked for one more cup from the newest producer.
Although he thought all those things, he couldn’t work without coffee.

“Producer, you’re drinking coffee again?”

“What? Can I not drink?”

“Just look at the cups by  your side, and try telling me that again.”

“Just get me one if I ask for it.
Why are you so picky? Are you my wife?”

“What kind of horrible delusions are you having?”

The newest producer, Kim Jinhyuk, still brought him coffee anyway.

“Thank you~.”

He tried to be as posh as possible when he thanked him for the coffee.
He couldn’t imagine a life without it.
He felt a little better after drinking a bit of the sweet instant coffee.

“Oh yeah, have you heard?”


“I heard that producer Yoon Mijeong of the 3rd drama team resigned.”

“That’s not surprising.
She was doing really well, wasn’t she?”

“She’s probably going to an outsourcing company, right?”

“She’s probably bold enough to do that because she was given an offer.”

He tilted the coffee cup into his mouth but he couldn’t taste any coffee.
When he wondered what happened and flipped the coffee cup upside down, the last drop that hung there pitifully fell down.
Changsung quickly reached out with his tongue and caught that droplet.
It was even sweeter than usual.

“Outsourcing huh.
I heard that the treatment is good there.”

“Why? You wanna go there too?”

“I haven’t even had my debut piece, where would I go? I might be a producer outside, but I’m merely an assistant director here.
I’ll first have my debut piece and then shoot a bigshot drama that hits 40% viewership and leave the company in a grand fashion.
I’ll throw my letter of resignation at the president’s face.”

Jinhyuk giggled for a while before sighing.

“Aren’t you too quick to return to reality from dreams? Why don’t you try fantasizing a little more?”

“Because of the reality that came to me when I saw myself wrestling with receipts.
Geez, it’s hurting my eyes.”

“You’re in your first year, and you already feel that way.
Why don’t you think about how I feel?”

Changsung put the paper cup he just drank from on the tower of other paper cups.
Perhaps it would be as high as the 63 building[1] one day.

“Don’t you want to go to one as well, senior?”

“To an outsourcing company? Hm, not really.”

“Why? I heard that it’s really good.
You get a lot of free time and the pay is good.”

“If you have the skill, you’ll get a lot of free time and pay no matter where you go.”

“You’re at that level, aren’t you? You made the historical drama 2 years ago a huge hit.”

“Is 20% a huge hit? It must be at least 40% to be called a huge hit.
Also, I was lucky back then.
All the other dramas that aired at the same time were shit.
It was instead strange to not go over 20% back then.”

“Why do you sound so humble today?”

“Why don’t you find out for yourself when you reach my age? The only thing that increases is your humility.
Also, not all outsourcing companies are good.
The producer that’s right above us, he left the company and created his own outsourcing company and ended up being in a lot of debt.”

“That’s why you need to join someone else’s.
Creating your own is just risky.”

“Wow, what a splendid laborer you are.”

“I do a fair share of labor, huh.”

He stretched his arms out and sat up straight.
Tomorrow was the day of the audition for the minor roles.
He felt a headache coming just thinking about how he would have to watch little kids acting for the entire day.

“Rather than that, a self-produced drama, huh.
I wonder what happened.”

Jinhyuk offered him a piece of melon bread and spoke.
Changsung stuffed his mouth with the bread and spoke.

“How would I know? Either they have the desire to make a proper one, or they have money left over.”

“Isn’t it good anyway? Since we’re outsourcing everything these days, there’s a lot of talk about us not getting any work.”

“It’s bound to be outsourced anyway, except for KBS, which is operated by the country itself.
They don’t need to care about the viewership.
Also, they should have a lot higher budget than us.”

“If we outsource everything, what becomes of us?”

“You’re worried about your job?”

“I am.
If we give everything away to outsourcing companies, I’ll no longer have any work to do.”

“Why would you no longer have any work to do? You will probably work with an outsourcing company for your debut piece.
Although the production is done by the outsourced company, we’ll have to send a member of our own to act as the control tower.”

“I don’t want there to be two producers though.
That’s just not cool.”

“Why would there be two? The production company will literally just provide the production environment, and your name will be on the producer line.”

“Oh, really?”

Changsung sighed and stood up.
Jinhyuk followed him.
They left the first meeting room and walked around the office.
Although it was past 8 in the evening, the drama department was still as busy as though it was 10 in the morning.
As the results of the Wednesday-Thursday drama weren’t that good, the producer and the chief producer of team 1 were wrestling with work at their desks.

“Watch them closely.
We’ll be exactly like that once they leave and we go in.”

It was one year.
For the past year, he made plans, went to the president with it only to get kicked, persuaded one of the chief producers, and talked to the president once again only to get kicked again.
Like that, they barely made a plan that received a pass and created a team.
They then got together and had a drink to resolve themselves to create a good drama, but the script that came out after that wasn’t to their liking and they had to wait for a long time once again.
As they were employed, they would receive their salaries even if they spent time doing nothing at their desk, but since this industry was one where they would get thrown out if they didn’t gain career experience, they would sometimes help other teams.
Sometimes, he would get called to the editing room of a cultural education department which drove him crazy.

After a long time of waiting, the beginning part of a script was barely created.
In terms of episodes, it was only around 5 episodes worth.
They finally had the foundation to shoot a seasonal historical drama of 20 episodes.

They then spent several weeks with the completed script and the polished plans and wrestled with the president.
Finally, they received the okay to start.
Moreover, it was a self-produced one.
The prefix was ‘special content’.
On top of that, it was a 50-episode one and not a 20-episode one.
They had to fix most of the plans and script that they planned at the beginning.
Thankfully, it wasn’t that difficult.
It was hard to remove content, but adding it was easy.
The writer also became enthusiastic as well.

This was why there were now more portions for child actors.
Since they now wanted to spotlight the main character’s younger days, the weight of the story that featured his childhood to his youth became heavier.
They would first show the grown-up versions of the characters in the first episode and do a flashback to the past.
He already had a picture in mind to have the audience fix their channels since there was a great lineup of actors that were coming in the later episodes.

“The children will have to do well for that.”

“What? What’s that all of a sudden?”

“I mean tomorrow.
We’re picking the child actors that will be leading the beginning parts, right? I hope we get some decent kids.”

“When I think about it, I think it’s better to skip it as much as possible.
I’ve never seen the views rise with the addition of kids.”

Changsung smacked the complaining Jinyuk on the forehead.

“You’re the assistant producer and you’re praying that it will fail?”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“Shut up.
If the kids here tomorrow are awkward, I’ll blame it all on you.”

“You know what I mean, senior~.”

Changsung ignored Jinhyuk who tried to suck up to him and walked towards the bathroom.

[1] A popular landmark in Seoul that has 63 floors (60 above ground, and 3 underground).
Apparently, it used to be the highest building in the world for around a year after it was built.

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