Five young individuals with cinematic visions were selected to be Fellows for the second Filmmakers' Development Lab (FDL), established in 2006 by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) to encourage English-language feature film projects by Korean and Korean diaspora (such as Korean American) filmmakers. But only one of them would be chosen to have the best film project of FDL 2007, and also receive a grant of US$40,000. And at a special ceremony at the Korea Center in Los Angeles where Korean Film Council USA office is located on Jan. 11, 2008, Nathan Adolfson was named that person.
"I'm humbled", said Adolfson. "Out of all the great projects, they chose 'Model American'."
For this Korean American adoptee from the Midwest now living in Los Angeles, being awarded this honor is a shot in the arm. "The fact that I have been able to gain the support of the KOFIC is a fantastic confidence boost and an indicator that I am going in the right direction", said the graduate of the UCLA film school.
"I see this award as an investment by KOFIC, because they believe in my abilities as a filmmaker, and in my ability to get this film made. I will not be satisfied, and I'm sure KOFIC will not be satisfied, until I am presenting 'Model American' as a finished film and it's screening in theaters".
Adolfson and the other four Fellows — Christina Choe, Jeyun Choi, Samuel Kiehoon Lee and Gene Rhee — were chosen for the lab based on the screenplays for their proposed film projects. They were then matched with industry veterans who helped the Fellows improve their scripts and prepare for the rigors of pitching their projects. The mentors for FDL 2007 include Jonathan Kim (who has produced five of the top 50 highest-grossing Korean films of all time), Jooick Lee (a well-known producer in Asia who has worked on films in Korea, Japan and Hong Kong), Peggy Rajski (a veteran producer of both American indie and studio films who has worked with Stephen Frears, Jodie Foster and John Sayles), Brant Rose (who runs his own Brant Rose Agency representing writers and directors), and Barry Sabath (senior lecturer and senior mentor at the American Film Institute).
The Fellows traveled to Hawaii last August for script-development sessions with their mentors. KOFIC then arranged for the Fellows and their FDL projects to participate in the co-production forum at the Pusan International Film Festival's Asian Film Market in Korea, and the Independent Film Project/New York's No Borders International Co-Production Market in the fall of 2007.
"Hawaii was amazing because I was able to spend one-on-one time with my mentors, Brant and Toochis Rose", said Adolfson on his FDL experience. "Refining the script, with an eye on the 'marketability' of the story, was an amazing experience. They really helped me further my understanding of how to position myself better within the Hollywood system to succeed".
He added, "At the Asian Film Market in Pusan, having the support of KOFIC was invaluable. I was in their office at the film market everyday either setting up meetings, having meetings or getting their advice to what producers would be right for my project. KOFIC actually set up meetings for me, and now I have several seasoned Korean producers involved in the project".
Now Adolfson also has some more money to go towards his project. The distribution of the grant comes in two phases, with $15,000 made available immediately, and the other $25,000 awarded once the project reaches production. The infusion of funds comes at the right time.
Denise Hwang +82-2-958-7592 for KOFIC (Seoul)
Sun-young Moon +1-323-932-7033~4 for KOFIC (LA)