“Things have gotten really good these days.
Back when we were young, we couldn’t even imagine that it would be possible to shoot a film with just one machine.”

“Using large rolls of film was natural back in the day.
Not only that, it was impossible to shoot during the night without lights.
I had a look at a camcorder from Japan the other day, and there was some attachment that you can put in at the top to use as a light.
It is frontal light, so the contours of the actor’s face would all disappear into oblivion, but still, if you think about how you can shoot during the night with that….”

“You’re right.
I heard that people make short movies with videos from their phones these days.
The quality might not be up to par, but with more accessibility, there will be more good directors in our country in the future.
It has become a lot easier to take the challenge after all.”

“I would’ve gathered a few people and tried shooting if I was just 20 years younger.
I guess I can’t do it now since I have a family to feed at home.”

“Looks like you’re a good husband.”

“It’s not that I’m a good husband, I’m just kinda scared of her.
When she was younger, she was really gentle, but she became a really strict ahjumma once she started raising our kid.
Don’t tell me anything unless you had to sleep in front of the door because you went back home at dawn all drunk.
Do you know what kind of things I had to go through when I knocked on the door after drinking?”

Many people at the table smiled bitterly after hearing critic Park Jangho’s words.
Film director, writer, journalist, critic, film production CEO, and actor.
These were the occupations of those who had gathered in order to assess the pieces for the 1st Seoul Youth Film Festival.

Jangho looked at the list in front of him.
They were the works of aspiring film directors.
Films had come in from all over the country, and the 1st round of assessments ended in the middle of September.

“There were 90 of them.
That’s quite a lot.”

“I would’ve never dared to watch all of them if they were all long ones,” said journalist Kim Dongwook who sat in front of him.

This journalist was someone he got to know through this assessment, and he was quite likable because he didn’t have that persistence that journalists usually had.
His business card had the words JA Production on it.

“I heard that there were 140 pieces originally.
That means that there were 50 or so pieces that didn’t fit the criteria.
Apparently, there were a lot of prank applications, as well as abridged versions of the actual film,” said the drama writer.

Jangho was uncomfortable around this woman.
During the whole time they were watching the movies in order to give an assessment, she always complained and criticized.
Unqualified, subpar – these were the kinds of words she used.
It seemed that she didn’t take into account the fact that these youths had just entered the field of shooting film.

“There were a lot of interesting ones considering that it’s the work of beginners.
I especially got a deep impression from the ones that did horror.
That’s a hard area to do,” said the film director.

The work in question was also inside Jangho’s memory.
It was a traditional horror-thriller piece, and there were many unique and fun-looking devices throughout the film.
That was on top of the production style that stuck to the basics, which was quite enjoyable to look at.
However, as the video itself was shot with a limited amount of lightning, and the make-up was not up to par, the outcome was something with a lack of contrast, which made it quite hard to watch.

“Wasn’t the train journey quite good too?” commented the CEO of the film production studio.

“That was pretty good too.
It should feel just like that if an essay is adapted into a film.
There was an element of biography as well,” Jangho replied.

“The colors were good too.
That one knew how to use lights.”

“I liked the film itself, but I also quite liked the extra footage at the end.
It was quite cute to see them stomp their feet in order to get permission to shoot inside the train.”

“I think that’s the good thing about youth.
If it was a commercial movie, there would be all sorts of procedures and money involved.
It’s quite difficult,” said the film production CEO.

“What did you think of the documentary about the cow in the stable? I thought that was pretty good,” said actor Park Taeho as he reached out to the snacks placed in front of him.

Everyone turned quiet whenever he spoke.
While there were many different people ranging from film production studio CEO to drama writer, drama director, and journalist, they only ‘worked’ in their field and had nothing that could represent them.
That wasn’t the case for Park Taeho.
He was one of the top actors in the current era of South Korea’s male actors.
In the controversial film released last year, ‘Twilight Struggles’, actor Yoon Moonjoong did a great job of portraying a father consumed by lunacy, but the acting of Park Taeho, who disdained his father and showed the epitome of immorality, also made many people gasp.
When Jangho watched that movie, he thought that Taeho would win the Daejong award that year, but the ones that swept the Daejong prizes last year were the actors of the film that got 10 million views, which happened in South Korea for the 7th time in history.
It was actor Yoon Moonjoong though, who won the lead male award, and proved that the Daejong awards had a sliver of public credibility left.
If even that went to another actor, they would have been branded as unifying the commerciality and the quality of the film.

“The cow documentary was good too.
But that was way too bland.
20 minutes of showing everyday life should be ‘Hometown Six[1]’, not a film,” said the drama writer.

Her tongue always became more vile after Park Taeho said something.
She showed goodwill towards him on the first day, but she was probably unhappy that Park Taeho didn’t reply to her.

“I found it rather refreshing actually.
They captured the figure of the child leading a cow pretty well.
It’s something you can make because you don’t shoot it expecting commerciality,” said the film director.

The drama writer seemed to have become mad and just drank some water.

“It seems like our young judges liked that one as well.
The overall assessment is pretty good.
Of course, there’s no dramatic tension or a notion of the subject, and other parts that are also lacking.
But I don’t think it was that bad to show a part of everyday life so plainly like that,” added the film production CEO.

Jangho flipped over the list.
He saw the assessments of the youth judges.
The 1st round of assessment was done by 50 young judges from many parts of the country instead of the professional judges gathered here.
As this was a youth film festival, the assessment of those around the same age was pretty important.
The professional judges accounted for 60% of the scores, while the remaining 40% was decided by the young ones.

“Their one-line assessments were quite entertaining too.
There are many that are even more evil than a critic like me, and there were a lot of funny ones too.”

“Personally, this gave me a deep impression: ‘It looks like the cow didn’t get enough guarantee, that is, feed, from how it kept yawning’.”

“That was pretty funny.”

“I found it absurd though.
This is not a joke.
I frowned as soon as I looked at it.”

The drama writer clicked her tongue.
Jangho did not reply.
A rampaging pony was better left alone.

“Since it’s a youth film festival, the eyes of the professionals may be important, but I think we should take into account how it appealed to their peers.”

The film director pointed at the blue piece of paper on the table.
It contained the 10 films that received the best scores from the youth judges, as well as their criticisms.

“First up, the film that tried to be heavy awkwardly didn’t make it onto this list.
The problems of the era, environmental, and religion.
I can praise them for their challenging mindset and deciding to handle those topics, but there were too many of them who just skimmed the surface and went downhill during the conclusion without any clear points at all.
Some of them had the wrong approach in the first place,” said journalist Kim Dongwook.

“They must have hit a block while shooting.
Anyone can say that there is a problem, but it’s impossible to take that next step unless you have a deep reason for it.
There were many that tried the topic out but ended up with an awkward ending because they hit a block.
While I can understand them, if you end it like that, it just goes to show that the director doesn’t have any plans when he or she shoots the video, so it’s even worse of a reason to the point that it’s displeasing,” Jangho added.

“Meanwhile, the works at the top have a shared point.
It’s the point of sympathy.
The ones that handled school life especially, got a good score.”

“That’s to be expected.
Children around that age project themselves into fiction pretty easily.
Even though there’s no power in the story, there were many pieces that got good scores purely because they could sympathize.
That’s why I don’t trust this assessment.”

The drama writer flipped the blue assessments on the table.

“Don’t be too critical and be a little gentler when it comes to this.
You might be a professional, writer, but these fellows aren’t.
Just think of it as them trying hard,” said the film production CEO. 

The drama writer seemed to have liked that flattering tone and eventually nodded.

“For me personally, I liked these ten pieces that the young judges have picked.
Especially when it comes to the acting.
Leaving aside a sense for a topic, and the production quality, I’m not opposed to the idea that these 10 will receive the prize based on acting skills alone.
What do you all think?” Park Taeho, one of the top actors in the country, gave an assessment about the acting.

Jangho didn’t want to retort to that.
Above all, just as Park Taeho said, the ten works picked out by the youth judges showed a pretty decent level of competence in terms of acting.
It was clear that they weren’t shameful to look at.

“Based on acting alone, maybe, but if you ask me about other areas, then, I’m not sure,” said the drama writer.

Park Taeho smiled and nodded.
He didn't say anything.

“We just have to decide by this afternoon, so I guess there’s no need to try so hard right now,” said the journalist as though to mediate.

“Since we’re at it, can I ask you a question, actor Park?” the film director asked.

Park Taeho replied after drinking some water,

“I always get nervous when directors say they want to ask me a question.
What is it?”

“It’s nothing much; I’m just curious as to why you decided to participate in this.
I mean, considering the name values of everyone here, the rest of us can’t hold a candle to you, can we? I thought I saw the wrong person when I first came here.
I was wondering why such a bigshot was here.”

Park Taeho shook his hand.

“Oh, no, please.
I’m no bigshot.
I’m just an actor.”

“If you’re just an actor, I might as well throw away my film director title.”

“What can I say if you keep doing that? Please, don’t lower yourself so much.”

While everyone was laughing, the drama writer stared at the film director with a pissed expression.
She looked as though she didn’t want to be lumped with the rest.

“I just had a personal interest.
I wanted to see how young people do acting and how they produce a film.”

“From what I hear, it seems that you are preparing to become a film director yourself.
Did you come here to see if there are any promising ones?” asked the film production CEO.

From how his eyes flashed, the businessman side of him became more intense.

“No, not a film director.
I’m just trying my hand at writing.
I’m learning little by little from someone I know, and it sure isn’t easy.”

“I see.”

“Anyway, I quite wanted this spot because I would get to see the acting of young people.
I can see young actors in the field from time to time, and how should I put it… they’re good, but I never get the feeling of wanting to do something with them.
Before, there were many people who gave off the feeling of a rough stone to the point that I couldn't find a way to deal with them, but these days, they all look like smooth pebbles.
Their overall acting skills may have risen, but it’s hard to find people that stand out.
Maybe because of that, I want to see raw acting from those that haven’t learned properly.”

“I guess it’s like that these days.”

Jangho nodded as there were parts that he sympathized with.

“Let’s pick out ten recommendations for now.
I think we will only be able to finish in the evening if we pick them out before lunch,” said the journalist as he picked up the list.

It was lunchtime already.
Jangho picked five pieces that he had decided on his mind.
There were quite extreme pieces, so it wasn’t hard to pick them.
Creative and fresh ideas were good, but Jangho placed more importance on the basics.

“I picked mine.”

“Me too.”

The lists written by the six people were gathered in one place.
Jangho combined the lists together into one.

“Let’s get back to it after lunch.
We need energy to talk even more.”

The film production CEO stood up.
The four others followed suit.
Jangho, who stayed behind until the end, had a look at the list of pieces that the other judges had picked.
Just as he had expected, there were quite a lot of overlaps.
Among them were ones that were beyond just ‘decent’ and could be called good.

“Kids these days are good at everything.”

Jangho left after putting down his pen.

[1] A Korean TV program that airs at six in the morning, usually targeted at elderly people.
And like what it says, it usually shows a bunch of everyday life stuff.


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