New Generation of Korean Filmmakers Fast Track Careers at BIFF MPA Film Workshop in Busan

Pitch competition winners receive trips to Los Angeles and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards

BUSAN/SINGAPORE:  On October 3 and 4, representatives of the next generation of Korean filmmakers took part in the BIFF-MPA Film Workshop, involving master-classes, mentoring and a pitching competition at Dongseo University, held in conjunction with the 19th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) 2014.

Three awards were presented to filmmakers competing in the feature film pitch competition in recognition of the high quality of the film projects and presentation skills of the participants.

Taking first place following a difficult judges’ decision was KIM Chang Hoon for his take on a zombie black comedy ironically titled Home Sweet Home. KIM wins a trip to Los Angeles to participate in a comprehensive five-day film immersion program that takes place in early November in the lead up to the American Film Market (AFM).

Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director Asia Pacific, Motion Picture Association (MPA), recognized the depth of talent revealed during the competition by awarding two President’s Special Recognition Prizes: KWON Hyuk Jun, writer of Hwaran, a story about an infertile couple that enters into an arrangement to hire a surrogate mother, and CHOI Sun Young, writer of My Destiny, a fictional historical drama of how LEE Jiham, a counselor in the Joseon Dynasty, came to write Tojong Bigyeol, a well-known local book on fortune telling. KWON and CHOI will attend the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSAs) in Brisbane, Australia, to engage with some of the most talented filmmakers from across the Asia Pacific, in December this year.

Commenting on the film workshop, special guest speaker and jury member, UK producer and director of the National Film and Television School, Nik Powell, said, “It’s been a great experience, particularly during the mentoring session when we heard the participant’s stories and worked with them to develop their pitching and presentation skills. I think it is terrific that the MPA partners with the Busan International Film Festival and Dongseo University to support new talent in Korea and offer such great opportunities for their career development.”

Opening the film workshop, LEE Yong Kwan, festival director of BIFF, said, “The BIFF-MPA Film Workshop is becoming an essential feature of the Busan International Film Festival, providing the next generation of talented Korean filmmakers an introduction to the global film industry, and valuable time with some of the leading experts from Korea and around the world.”

The first day of the workshop involved a comprehensive analysis of the students’ new feature film treatments, where established film practitioners worked closely with emerging filmmakers from some of the top film universities across Korea. Mentors included Nik Powell (Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, B. Monkey, Ladies in Lavender), LEE Hanna (film producer Turning Gate, Woman is the Future of Man, Secret Sunshine), LEE Moo Young (director/screenwriter Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, A Bizarre Love Triangle, Mary & I) and YOUN Sung Eun, one of Korea’s leading film critics.

Presenting the first of two master-classes on the second day to a full lecture hall at Dongseo University, acclaimed Korean director BONG Joon-ho (director The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer) held young filmmakers spellbound with his insights into the filmmaking process and his experience working with filmmakers across the world: “Many press asked me what was the difference shooting Snowpiercer in the U.S. Ninety percent of the crew were Americans or Europeans but the filmmaking process was the same. It was my first English language film but I didn’t care about that. I cared about the story.” Director BONG shared valuable advice for emerging filmmakers: “Is there a story that you are obsessed with? Are you going to die if you don’t tell it? That’s the story to tell. You have to tell it your own way. You have to bring something unique to filmmaking.”

The master-classes were followed by the feature film pitching competition, where nine participants presented their new film projects refined after the mentoring session on the first day. Each student was given up to seven minutes to present their film project, and engaged in a Q&A with the judges. The filmmakers were judged on both the quality of the feature film script and their pitching skills.

Acknowledging the work of the filmmakers, Mike Ellis said, “This year’s participants have presented some of the best feature film projects we have ever seen in our many years conducting film workshops around the Asia Pacific. The students were extremely receptive to the advice offered during the mentoring sessions, and demonstrated their skills and adaptability in the pitching competition. We thank the Busan International Film Festival for their partnership in running the film workshop, Dongseo University for providing the wonderful venue, our exceptional speakers and judges for their valuable time and energy, and we look forward to seeing these young filmmakers go on to produce some great stories for the screen.”

Speaking of his experience of the 2013 film workshop, winner of the President’s Special Recognition Prize, HAN Jungkook, said,“It was a breakthrough experience for me. I did not have much experience pitching. I did not know the business side of the industry. The mentors taught me and I improved my pitching skills. In business meetings I developed a much better approach to my project. When I visited APSA, I could see how the Asian filmmakers worked together. It broadened my views. I came to this year’s workshop to share this experience with the students and to let them know this was a huge opportunity for them and they should grasp it with both hands.”

The BIFF-MPA Film Workshop was hosted by the 19th Busan International Film Festival and the Motion Picture Association, with the support of Dongseo University. The MPA Asia Pacific has hosted film workshops since 2006, providing stepping-stones for emerging filmmakers to develop their careers. In the last 12 months, the MPA has conducted film workshops in Busan, Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Chengdu, and later in October will conduct a workshop in partnership with Digital Hollywood University in Tokyo alongside the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF).

Here’s a link to our press release.