On May 18, 2020, Director Kim Kyungsok (or Kyung-sok Kim) and his short film Furthest From was awarded the Most Prestigious Award in the Children’s and Youth Film Competition in the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. The film chronicles the story of young Jessie who has to leave her life in a trailer park behind and be “furthest from everything and everyone she has ever known and loved”.
Q. Please tell us how you became a film director after graduating Hanyang University.
A. After graduating from school, I attended the American Film Institute (AFI) Master’s Program (Masters of Fine Arts in Film Directing). I have dreamed of attending AFI since my days at Hanyang, as it is one of the most prestigious film schools in the world. Additionally, many of the film directors whom I deeply respect, including David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, and Terrence Melrick had studied in the same program. The institute values on-set experience and mirrors the professional atmosphere of Hollywood. I had to reduce the time I spent sleeping for the first time in my life during the arduous program but I was able to get rid of fear regarding the filmmaking process whilst contemplating the nature of the film.
Q. How did the production team of Furthest From come together?
A. Furthest From was produced as my thesis film in AFI. My producer, Rex Reyes, pitched a story based on his childhood. The cinematographer, Teck Siang Lim, the editor, Arndt Werling, the story editor, Erin Tobin, and I all related deeply to his story and became the starting production team.
Q. What is the biggest difficulty you face as a director?
A. I think finding one’s own color as a director is most difficult. There must be something that sets your film apart. I started filmmaking in order to leave something that will remain in the world even after I am gone. I still think of it as a criterion of my success; even if it may be a single film, making it one that will constantly be remembered in the future.
Q. Why did you choose to tell the story Furthest From from the perspective of ‘Jessie’, who is only an eight-year-old child?
A. As I’ve mentioned, the film was inspired by the childhood of my producer, Rex Reyes. When he first pitched the story I remembered my own memories from my childhood and felt a fateful connection with Jessie. I thought that most movies portray children as naïve or immature, which I felt was fake. That’s why I wanted to show the concerns of a young child through her perspective, rather than an adult’s. I wanted to show what children are really like.
Q . Do you have any plans of premiering Furthest From in Korea?
A. We don’t have any specific plans yet but we are planning to air it through online streaming services after the film festivals in Korea. The movie was produced with the intention to screen in theaters, so we hope that there will be theater screenings in Korea throughout the festivals.
Q. Could you share your advice on what students should do to become film directors?
A. Communication skills and persistence are extremely important. A film is an art form that requires collaboration. It is helpful to learn how to meet and interact with various people. Lastly, there will be many obstacles you will face for practical reasons but be patient and don’t become obsessed with results. Be persistent, and remind yourself of why you wanted to be a director.
Q. Please tell us if you have any plans for the remainder of 2020.
A. I am currently revising the script of two new films, Ghosts, which is planned to be filmed in the United States and Seoul Diary which I hope to film in Korea. If the COVID-19 pandemic gets better, I plan to film a short film and a music video in the latter half of 2020.