Myung Film Makes Challenge for Animated Films
Directed by Oh Seong-yoon
By BAI K Seung Chan
Leafie is a hen, laying eggs every day. But it has never got the chance to care for the eggs it laid. Little by little Leafie starts to long for the yard seen through the doors of chicken farm building and soon dreams of going out into the yard to care for the eggs there. Since the dreaming begins, Leafie does not lay anymore eggs, and the farm couple throws Leafie away into a pit. The little hen begins its new life under a vicious watch from a weasel. Leafie tries to return to the yard, only to be illtreated and pushed away. Then it finds an egg in the woods, which it decides to care for while a duck friend stays around to protect Leafie.
The story comes from A Hen Into The Wild , a monumental bestseller in Korea as a children's book that sold almost a million copies. A reputable commercial filmmaker of Korea, Myung Film signed contract copyrights with the author in 2005, and is about to release their first animation "Leafie, A Hen Into The Wild" this summer.
The Animated feature market of Korea is at the moment dominated by films made by Disney and Pixar of America and Studio Ghibli of Japan, as well as popular cartoon shows turning into the big screen. A few Korean feature animations were released in the theaters, but none have made commercial success.
"The theme of original work such as challenging the spirit that yearns for freedom and not settling with the present is meaningful enough to gain sympathy from all generations", says Myung Film's CEO SHIM Jae-myeong. "Until now, most of Korean animated feature started out from original screenplays, but we believed it would help on the perspective of awareness if we take this best seller and adopt it".
The process of production was not easy. While everyone in Korean cinema are cutting their budgets, it was almost a risk to make an animation with a total production cost of US$4.5 million (5 billion KRW). Fortunately for Myung Film, "Leafie, A Hen Into The Wild" was selected as a Global Animation Project of Korea Creative Content Agency, receiving a maximum funding of US$650,000 (700 million KRW). SHIM says she became interested in the contents that everyone in the family can watch together as she made family movies like Little Brother and Ice Bar . "It wasn't easy to secure investment for production as there had been no previous animated features that were successful in Korea. Myung Film was able to finance the film, only because it already had equity capital".
Uncommon for a Korean animated feature, "Leafie, A Hen Into The Wild" chose to pre-record the sounds and do the drawings later. This meant voices of dubbing artists were recorded following the prepared video script, and drawing the animation accordingly. Along with actors Moon So-ri, Yoo Seung-ho, Choi Min-sik and Park Chul-min along with more than 20 professional dubbing artists participated in the vocal recording. The film was directed by experienced animation producer, Oh Seong-yoon. A teaser poster has already been released in Korea and full scale marketing is about to be launched, starting with its title song by singer IU, one of the most popular singers among the young generation. The film is making an aggressive approach to overseas market as well. For the first time in Korean cinema history, Leafie: A Hen Into The Wild is to be released in Korea and China simultaneously. Such an arrangement was made under the assessment that it will minimize damage from domestic piracy in China and that the film's oriental paintinglike background and excellent character design will appeal to the Chinese people. The main background of the film is based on the image obtained from Upo wetlands, located in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnamdo, where the beautiful scenery is kept safe. The plan of its makers was to show the unique natural features of Korea that were never seen in an animated film made from America or Japan.
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