Saturday, January 27, 2007

Message from the translator

Please be informed that for personal reasons, I am not able to update this blog at this time. Your understanding would be much appreciated.

I hope many people will seek the opportunity to see this beautiful film.
AND let us not forget this wonderful young man -
Lee Soo Hyun.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Log 2

We are expecting to hear from the actors’ management company in Korea on their final decision this evening…. It certainly took a long time.

I think we experienced difficulties in the negotiations due to reasons we did not anticipate – not only concerning matters such as the translation of the scenario, but our differences of sensitivity toward dramas.
I feel that Korean films and TV dramas strongly reflect the ethnicity of its people. Koreans seem to have a strong liking for things that are intense, and move one’s soul.

In the process of writing this scenario, I talked to many Korean students studying in Japan. There was a topic that came up frequently among them. They claimed that they reconfirmed the fact that the emotions they had inside them was a lot more intense compared to that of the Japanese.

“We are very passionate, you know.”

That’s what all of them told me passionately. Even students who were seemingly quiet stressed this. They told me that coming to Japan, they could not understand why the people of their own generation were so quiet – they could not tell whether they were acting cool, or they lacked passion. They also could not comprehend why they were so indifferent to matters surrounding them.

Japanese who believe that not openly expressing one’s emotions is somewhat a virtue… Koreans who enjoy in being open in their expression of feelings... The difference in sentiment seen between the people of the two countries resembles that between the people of Osaka and Tokyo. This difference also influences their preference in the types of drama they enjoy.

Putting the results of this research aside, we will now start the rewriting process of the scenario. I’m sure an interesting discussion with our Korean writers awaits us.

I hope to report on this process later.

(Originally posted in Japanese on Aug. 23, 2005)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Log 1

Preparations for the film “Won’t Forget You” has been underway since the beginning of this month. Presently, we are eagerly waiting for the results of the casting.

Visiting Korea last month, I finally have realized this – there is a tremendous difference between the film / TV industry in Korea and Japan.

What ignited the Hanryu boom in Japan was the TV series such as “Winter Sonata”.

Drama series in Korea are aired 2 times a week, Mon&Tues, Wed&Thurs, Sat&Sun, and prime time (from 10pm to 11 pm). What’s more, commercials are not inserted during the episode! Therefore, the series consists of 22 to 26 episodes.
Ten years ago or so, Japanese dramas too, had 2 cours, and lasted for 6 months. Those were the days when TV dramas were at their peak.
Around the time I entered the TV industry – 2 hours dramas like “Tuesday Suspense Theater” and such had just started. Dramas were at a decline, and long dramas were being reduced. Those days were dubbed “the winter period” for both actors and staffs, and prime time were being taken over by variety shows.
Presently, Japanese drama series have 13 episodes on average, and because it is usually only aired once a week, one cours lasts for 3 months.

In Korea, the same 3 months has twice as many episodes. But we start shooting almost at the same time… which means? That’s right! They film 2 hours worth every week.

This means that they are shooting under extremely severe conditions.
Incidentally, the series which has the most severe shooting conditions in Japanese drama is the afternoon soap drama hour. These are aired 5 times a week from Monday to Friday and each episode lasts for about 26 minutes. This means that we are shooting for approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes worth every week.

Naturally, we have to shoot the horrendous amount of episodes in the style of a set drama. There is no time to shoot on locations – it can be done only in the very beginning and the end (too bad). The situation has not changed from 20 years ago, in the days I had been shooting dramas such as “Ai-no-Arashi” and “Hana-no-Arashi”.

This means that the drama series in Korea are shot under similar conditions. Scenarios are completed just before the shooting, so hot that we need to make changes during the shooting. We are only able to announce the camera blocking on the day of the takes. And we are forced to work from early morning to late into the night for over four months. .

People of the Korean film industry all state flatly that these conditions are to blame for the ragged and low quality of dramas.
On the other hand, Korean films are produced in 3 to 5 months on average. Preparations are made far more carefully and the shooting conditions are far better than dramas.
These differences between the Korean and Japanese film and TV industry are beginning to have subtle influences on the production of my film “Won’t Forget You”.

(Originally posted in Japanese on Aug.18, 2005)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Recording Music and Finishing Up

We finally finished all the sound processing. A sense of my energy being drained out had overcome me, and I needed a rehabilitation of sorts before I was able to update my blog.

This is a photo of our recording session at a music studio in Aoyama.

Actually, this was taken only four days after our meeting. I can’t help being impressed with the staffs for being able to complete the music at this stage. When the recording started, the music we heard was exactly what we had hoped for. The producers who were present all cried out in excitement. The serene requiem performed by a small ensemble of strings and piano expanded to the main theme which possessed a gentleness containing brightness and elevation. I couldn’t hold back the tears welling up inside me.

We continuously encountered things that seemed like a miracle up to the day the film was completed.

On this day, four composers participated in the recording. Because we were so short of time, these people had composed music for us by dividing the task by themes. And it was an acquaintance of Producer M. that introduced one of the member to us.
And this was made possible from a remarkable reunion of 20 years. Moreover, it was H-san who had written the main theme of this film – he and I had worked together for the first time with “Lament of a Lamb”.

And he had just come back to Japan two days before, having studied in the U.S.

Composing music for film is an incredibly difficult task. Even when we try to convey our images to the composer in meetings, there is always a limit in what words can express. For example, people would all hold different images to the word “gentleness” in their minds.

For this reason, in the typical process, we would determine the type of instruments we would use by theme.

In my case I would try to communicate my images by providing explanations like,

“For the theme for the hero’s girl friend, I think a piano solo and an ensemble with strings is appropriate.”
Or, “I want you to use the harmonica this time.”
“I want a sound like panpipe for this.”

Sometimes I would mention a famous theme from a certain film, or demonstrate the tempo…

But even after all this, there are times when my image would not be understood. The rest would all depend on how much we can share the image that is imagined from script and the finished film. By using every metaphor, gestures etc. that I can come up with, I try to give my all in conveying my image to the composer. Perhaps the process is similar to the one in solidifying the image of each character with the actors. And all I can do after that is to believe in them.

In my idea of film music, the plot and the personality of the characters would determine the instruments and tone in a natural manner. In that respect, my image was conveyed successfully in the very end… I felt that in this project, was saved at the 11th hour.
This film deals with a wide variety of sound, which was something new for me. And quite a lot in number, too.

As the film has to do with Japan and Korea, it has pop music heard on the streets of both countries, while it also includes ethnic music called Sauinori (農楽), along with music of the “enka” variety.

There is also a good deal of songs performed on the street and in live houses – these music have an important role in the development of the story.

The finishing of the music took until morning of the final day. I was at lost in trying to convey the finishing process for a “cinematic” sound. I felt a dilemma towards my own lack of vocabulary in communicating my image.

But all of us had one goal. It was to make the very best.

In the process of achieving this goal, we had a passionate crew that worked through an unbelievable schedule for the finishing stage of the film.

And in the end, we were able to create a world of sound that exactly matched my image. We exchanged firm handshakes…. thank you so much. Now, we can proudly present this work to the world.

Then, we finished the work on the end-title roll.
Now, we will wait for the editing on the negatives, and then all there is to be done is to wait for the processing.

(originally posted in Japanese on Sept. 21, 2006)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Korean Version of Feb.1 Entry

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고이수현군 5주기 추모기념식

이수현군 사망 5주년 기념식과 촬영시작을 알리는 파티.

오래간만에 브로그를 합니다.

25 일에 주연배우가 한국으로부터 일본에 도착했습니다. 아카사카 프린스호텔에서 오래간만에 만났습니다. 모두 시간을 내서 이 이벤트에 참석했습니다. 만난지 10일 정도 밖에 안되었는데 더 오래된 것 같았고, 다시 만나게 되어서 좋았습니다. 한국회원들은 모두 미소를 지었고 일본방문을 기대하고 있었다고 말했습니다.

다음 날인 1월 26일에 이수현군의 사망 5주년 기념식이 오후 2시부터 열렸습니다. 주중이어서 참석하는 사람이 많지 않을까봐 걱정했었는데, 괜한 걱정을 했었습니다. 룸은 다 찼고 좌석이 부족하기까지 했습니다.

룸앞에서는 한국에서 만들은 영상비데오가 상영되는 스크린이 있었고, 이수현 아시아장학회와 아카몬카이 국제언어아카데미가 사회를 보고 진행을 하는 가운데 모두가 1분간의 묵념을 함으로써 기념식은 엄숙한 분위기에서 시작되었습니다.

모 리모토 전총리가 회장을 맡는 초당파 의원 360명이 소속되어 있는 「일한의원연맹」에서 오신, 응원단장을 해 주시겠다고 하는 젊은 니시무라 의원, 민단이나 재일의 경제계의 분들, 재일 한국 대사관의 참사관분들등, 한사람 한사람이, 진심에서 우러난 메세지를 주셨고, 5년전, 당시의 외무 대신이었던 타나카 마키코 의원도 살그머니 한쪽 구석에 앉아 있었습니다.

헌화가 계속되었습니다..
이 영화의 관계자석에도, 여러 멤버가 모였고, 한국까지 와 준 열성적인 협찬 기업의 대표들이 있었고. 일반인도 다수 참가했습니다.

배 용준씨를 지지하는 팬클럽에서는 일본 전역에서 20명의 회원이 이 행사에 모였습니다. 매년 이 행사에 참가 할 뿐아니라, 기부금을 모음으로서, 이수현장학회를 계속해서 지지하고 확장해 나가겠다는 약속을 했습니다. 그들 대부분도 어머니이기 때문에 이수현씨의 어머니에 대해 강한 동정심을 느꼈다고 했습니다. 그들은 수현군이 남기고간 뜻 뿐 아니라 할 수 있는 한 부모님들의 바램도 지지하기 위해서 모였다고 말했습니다.

제 친구 몇몇도 참석했습니다. 프로듀서로서 우리를 돕기 위해서 프로젝트에 참가한 N-산이 있는데, 그는 저의 첫 작품인 “양의 비가”를 감독할 기회를 준 사람입니다. 그는 정말 활동적인 사람이고 제 두번째 영화인 “꿈을 뒤쫒아”도 만들었습니다.

영상대학원설립을 목표로 제가 2년여 동안 관계하고 있는 그룹, “WAO!”의 지도자도 역시 참석했고, 이 프로젝트에 새로운 관계를 가질 것 같습니다. 그리고 한국에서 배우를 캐스팅하는데 어려움에 처했을 때 우리를 구원해 주었던 제 옛친구인 I-산도 참석했습니다. 드라마 “영원한 어린이”에서 정신과 치료에 대한 어드바이스를 원했을 때부터 알았으니 벌써 몇년입니까? 시나리오작가인 Ms. 마사코 이마이도 참석했습니다. 가마모리에 있었던 “양키의 꿈”의 영상회에서 알게 되었던 O-산도 나고야에서 왔습니다. “Yume-net”회원들은 꽃을 보내왔고 아키타에 있는 JIN-산은 케익을 보내왔습니다. 여러분으로부터 많은 지지를 받았습니다. 이 기회를 빌어서 다시한번 여러분께 감사드리고 싶습니다!

너무 참석자들이 많아서 꽃이 거의 모자랄 뻔 했습니다.

다 음은 이수현군 사진앞에서 이 영화의 촬영을 시작하는 보고회를 가졌습니다. 첫번째로 프로듀서인 M-산께서 스피치를 했고, 다음은 저, 이태성씨 그리고 그의 가족, 그리고 마지막으로 선현의 친구역할을 맡은 2명의 소년들이 스피치를 했습니다. 메모없이 이야기를 했기 때문에, 솔직히 무슨 말을 했는지 기억이 안나지만, 나중에 스피치가 괜찮었다는 얘기를 들었습니다. 비디오를 보게 되면 부끄럽겠지만, 할 수 없지요.

이태성씨는 정말로 굉장했습니다. 그는 일본어로 자기 소개를 했는데, 발음이 너무 좋았습니다. 그가 얘기하는 것을 들으면서 영화에서 일본어로 말할 때 아무 문제가 없으리라는 것을 확신했습니다!

제 스피치에서 기억나는 것이 하나 있습니다.

제가 이 블록에 올린 사진은 영화 ‘이미지 포스터”인데, 흥미있는 에피소드가 숨어 있습니다.

한국에서 촬영이 시작되고 다음날, 프로듀서가 편지를 하나 받았습니다. 그 편지는 이수현군의 최후의 순간을 목격했다고 주장하는 사람으로부터 온 편지였습니다.

사 실, 수현군이 플랫홈에서 뛰어내린 순간과 기차가 들어올 때 까지 약7초간의 간격이 있었습니다. 7초는 만약 원한다면 피할 수가 있는 충분한 시간이었는데, 하물며 스포츠로 단련한 그와 같은 사람이라면 가능한 얘기였습니다. 도와줄려고 했던 Mr. 세키네도 같은 말을 했습니다.

그러면 그 시간 동안에 무엇을 하려고 했을까?

아무리 노력해도 대답을 찾을 수가 없었습니다. 물론 상상은 할 수 있었지만, 추측을 확인할 수는 없었습니다. 그러나 우리가 찾던 것이 바로 우리가 받은 편지에 쓰여있었습니다.

답은 포스터에 있는 모습입니다. 이수현군은 전철을 향해 양팔을 펼치고 직면하듯이, 그의 최후의 순간을 맞이했다는 것이다.

어떻게 이 메세지를 영화로 전달할 수 있을까요?
지금은 이 점에 관해서 깊게 계속해서 생각하고 싶습니다.

(English to Korean translation by suehan)


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Yesterday, we used the whole afternoon for choosing the songs to be used in the film. No matter how great the work is in itself, if it does not fit the film, the situation of the scene, the tone of the image, the rhythm of the editing etc., the two will ruin each other. Although I cannot describe it with only a few words, the relationship between images and sound is woven together with extremely delicate senses. For that very reason, when the two come together at the ideal point, a mutual effect excelling what was imagined is created. So for that reason, we also put in a tremendous amount of energy into the selection of music.

The day before yesterday, Lee Tae Sung, and yesterday, Lee Suk Yeon came to Japan. They had come to participate in today’s postrecording session. Postrecording is the process of re-recording some sounds for certain scenes when we want a clearer sound – like when it was not possible to cut off the unwanted sound at the location site (such as the chirring of cicadas) or for use in monologues or recitation of letters.

Lee Tae Sung and Seo Jae Kyeong were both experts. They immediately recalled the subtle nuance of the scenes, and recreated the lines at one try.

Now, Marky was another matter. Obviously, this was going to be her first postrecording because she was new to the world of acting.

But frankly, she surprised us.Though she struggled on her first try to get the feeling of postrecordings, that was the only time she needed direct coaching. In a matter of two hours, she mastered even the most difficult scenes in just a few rehearsals, and was able to complete them keeping time with Lee Tae Sung. Marky just turned a year older on the 23rd. She is such a promising actress.
Through the process of recording lines and monologues, I was strongly provoked to think about the difference of the two languages. Although Japanese and Korean have many things in common such as grammar and vocabulary, I became more aware of the cultural differences behind the pronunciation. More than anything, there is a definite difference in the speed of conversations.

If we were to create a dialogue of the same length, conversations in Korean would carry the story one and a half times faster than that in Japanese.
For example, suppose there is a scene which lasts for a minute. If we were to insert a Japanese dialogue in the scene, it would be typical for it to contain approximately 800 letters worth of information.

However, if this was in Korean, it would be normal to have 1.5 times as much in content.
In other words, a line that takes “3.5 seconds” to say with feeling at normal speed in Japanese, the same nuance could be easily delivered in “2 seconds” in Korean.

If an actor was to take more time saying it, I was told that it would only sound like he was trying to say it in slow motion. Moreover, the nuance itself would become different.
This is probably true for people of any race, but people who speak rapidly and people who speak slowly are different in character. Plus, because people speak in various speeds according to situations and emotions, the speed of a conversation is a crucial matter.

Each language possesses a unique speed – that alone makes us realize the difference among cultures.
The difficulties of a multi-cultural collaboration ….. who would have thought that we would encounter it in such a situation.

(originally posted in Japanese on August 31.2006)

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Days of Post-production

I was absorbed in editing work for the past few days.

This involves selecting the necessary cuts from the stupendous amount of film to fit the length of the film. It is an extremely important process which virtually determines the impression of the work.

Both the producer and I knew that even from the conception of the script, the film was too long – I had pondered over this for a long, long time, but there were many scenes that I just couldn’t cut. They were all scenes that were close to my heart that I could not bear to throw away.

Oh hell, if this is how it has to be, I could make a “Director’s Cut” version… I was secretly determined to carry this out, but this is too much to hope for. Actually, it is through this “diet” process that the “theme” begins to surface.

Perfection never exists. All we can do is pursue the ideal to the limit.

We watched the scenes over and over –
“Let’s cut this scene, and leave the other one.”
“Even if we cut a few seconds of this, I want to leave the few seconds of that other scene.”
“There is not much use for this scene.”
“I really HAVE to put in that expression.”
etc. etc. The clash goes on.

In the meantime, we wait for the rough sketches of the images of the trains of the Yamanote Line and the snow scenes created by computer graphics.

Yesterday, we finally got to the stage of watching the video rush which does not have the music.

And then finally, the theme song of this film by Makihara (Japanese singer song writer Noriyuki Makihara) arrived in its complete form.
How we’ve been waiting for this!!

This song is used as the ending theme.
We listened to it with the temporary end-title roll.
Makihara-san’s heartfelt lyrics mixed with his voice sank deeply in my heart.

The scenes from the shooting to the completion of the film…
I have seen it so many times, but yet, I again felt tears well up in my eyes.

The film still leaves its final stage.
We need to have music composed that will exactly match the impression of this film. Plus, we need to prepare sound effects that will add life to each scene. We continue to have detailed discussions to determine the type of sound or music to be inserted at each precise moment. We need to make the most of every method available to express the characters’ psychological descriptions, and create the greatest world of sound.

In terms of the images, we still need to make subtle adjustments to the film processing to achieve better hue and texture. Our goal still seems far away.

... even so, we have finally reached the stage where we are able to catch our breaths.

Our goal is only a step away!

(Originally posted in Japanese on Aug. 26, 2006)