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[HanCinema at JIFF] Q&A with director Yoong Jong-Chan of "Paparoti"

2013/04/26 | Permalink

After the screening of "Paparoti" on April 26th, Yoong Jong-Chan was available to take questions about the movie. Below is a paraphrased transcript of the session. Film critic Choi Gwang-Hee moderated the exchange and also answered questions. The statements of both are combined here for the sake of convenience.

Q: In promotional materials for the movie, scenes in a swimming pool are clearly visible. Why was this not in the final cut?

A: We ended up replacing it with the toilet scene, which served the same purpose in the story. We felt that the swimming pool scene went too far with its content, and the actors were also uncomfortable having to bare so much skin.

Q: Do you have any regrets about the movie, seeing it here on-screen?

A: While "Paparoti" is based on a true story (that of Kim Ho-Joong), there were a lot of cliches involved in filming. The Italian used for the singing scenes was very difficult, something not done in Korean film before, and while Lee Je-hoon put a lot of work into training for them, eventually we had to use a dub.

Q: How did you like working with the main actors?

A: It was surprisingly easy-going. I was expecting that Han Suk-kyu, the older actor, would do a lot of mentoring for Lee Je-hoon, but Lee held his own and directing them together was fairly simple.

Q: The credits at the end seem to imply the principal has a much bigger role than he really seems to have.

A: We consider the principal to be extremely important to the story overall, in terms of how he moves the action. In the original script, he had a much more minor role, but when we changed the character to a younger guy plyaed by Oh Dal-soo it was really obvious that he was now an essential part of the movie. Over production we changed half the script and there other major changes aside from that one. Originally, for example, Jang-Ho wins the Sejong competition.

Q: Why is Sook-Hee in the story? Her role seems unrelated.

A: We felt that there was too much gangster-related action in the story, and her sub-plot was a good way to break off the monotony.

Q: The film as a whole felt very cliched (laughter from audience, and director).

A: That's not something anyone usually says in a place like this. We heard a lot of the same criticism in the original script, too, and many of the alterations were done in an attempt to improve these problems. Ultimately, we felt that focusing too much on the story would be boring, so that's why many of these subplots feature so heavily. It took two years of development time to finish the script, and we felt it was time well-spent.

Q: What is the significance of the hamburgers?

A: Well Kim Ho-Joong (the real person) really loves hamburgers, and we were planning to have a joke involving product placement, but that didn't really pan out. There's still a metaphorical aspect of the joke in there, as in Korean, "hamburger" and "Happiness" have similar pronunciation.

Q: Why is so little time spent with the grandmother?

A: Again, we felt that these particular story elements were not interesting or well-served to the story, so many of her scenes were cut.

Q: This movie performed poorly at the box office. Why is that?

A: This is actually my most popular film to date, in terms of box office numbers. My next project will be an original one, so I'm probably looking at another relatively weak performance. My films often have actors who later go on to be popular in spite of this limited exposure. Because the directing style is very loose and flowing, the films often give a good sense of the actors' general demeanor. Lee Je-hoon has the right stuff to become a big star- but he started military service the day after filming was finished, and it will be some time before we hear from him again.

Yoong Jong-Chan and Choi Gwang-Hee then thanked the audience for coming and the session ended. Many fans came up to speak to them afterwards and some asked for autographs. And that was the end of that.

Report by William Schwartz

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