Early shooting in our little cramped studio in Namsan Dong.
As I entered the production phase of this project, I wanted to be more exacting and prepared than I often had been with other projects. My intentions fared well in the beginning. My wife had gotten me a chalk clapperboard for Christmas and I wanted to utilize it. I started out by logging each take and making notes as I shot, but as the shoot started to go on longer than I had wanted, I started to slack on the notes and eventually gave up, finally opting for speed over organization. It didn't seem like a good way to start out. I remember being relieved when the first day's shooting was completed, but also overwhelmed at the massive amount of shooting that lay ahead and a bit disappointed with my performance. At least it was wrapped though. I'm sure I slept easier that night.
That was the beginning of a roller coaster ride of triumphs, failures, cancellations, disappointments, and a host of other emotions and occurences. One of the obvious difficulties of shooting this film was the time period required. I could only shoot on weekends because I was working full time during the days. The rest of the cast was pretty much in the same situation, though we were eventually able to squeeze in a few weeknight shoots to cut down on the overall production span.
Lowell and Abigail having fun while I set up the shot.
As production started churning forward, I started to realize more apparently the difficulties in writing and directing in a foreign language. I remember one night early on in the shoot specifically. I think it was Scene 6 we were shooting. June (the lead actor and translator) and I had struggled with the writing and the ideas in the scene and had discussed for a long time how to make them as clear as possible and still keep the original meaning and feeling that the English had in the Korean translation. We had to stop shooting, have a seat at our low Korean table and just trudge through with advice from Heidi along the way. Eventually, after hours of discussion, many pizzas, several days of shooting and at least one reshoot, we finally canned the scene. I think it'll be worth it in the final cut...
Shooting Matthew on his scary motorcycle.
There were several very memorable moments and days during shooting. I had the longest filming day I've ever had shooting this film. One day lasted 17 1/2 hours. I remember going over to June's apartment around 7AM and banging on his door to no avail. I called him continually and finally found out that he had been up all night studying and had just gone to bed an hour or so earlier. He asked if we could postpone the shoot 'til another day. There were so many scenes slated for this day and I knew he had finals coming up in the next couple of weeks, so we forged ahead with caffeine in our veins and hope glowing brightly for our beds that evening. It was a long day, but I knew at the end that we had earned our rest.
Breaking the news that the scene I wrote was garbage and needed to be re-written for another day.
There are too many other exciting and delightful moments to even mention here... Cracking up making fun of the foreigner's pronunciation on the bus at Jangjeon Dong subway station, June actually slapping Chuck in the face during one of the final scenes, talking to drunk old men who wanted to help in any way possible, crashing the scooter into a pole, just to name a few.
This production ended up in no way how I thought it would. I hoped to be on top of things, to have things planned well, to stay on schedule. I failed at all of these. But, in the end, we all had a great time, and I know that everyone will be proud of their work when they finally see it. I hope that time is sooner rather than later.
I'll leave you with a couple of fun moments provided by my brother Pat and June after we shot some harrowing scooter scenes in the streets of Busan...