Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
My name is Min Soo. I am a South Korean director/DP based in New York. Currently, I'm studying film at School of Visual Arts, where I'm just a month away from graduating this May. I usually work on music videos, fashion campaigns, and documentaries.
I have always been interested in observing human behavior and attitude. Filmmaking sort of justifies that for me. Also, filmmaking is an excellent tool for me to meet people and spend time together.
Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?
'Merlin' is actually my thesis film at School of Visual Arts. I wanted to make a documentary that was both personal and relatable. The format of this film is not a typical documentary. I like to consider 'Merlin' as a visual poem about a man's struggle to find happiness.
The biggest challenge during making 'Merlin' was the pre-production because I had never been to Switzerland before. I tried to get as specific as possible with the shot list and schedule using Google Maps and other websites, but there were definitely some limits.
Also, traveling during the pandemic was really annoying. However, I'm happy I got to make this film with Lukas, who paid a lot of attention to Eddie and me and worked very flexibly for our schedule.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?
I often make films not because there is a specific message I want to tell. Rather than that, I simply love the act and filmmaking process, and the message sometimes comes later as I am working on it.
The reason why I love filmmaking is because I am in the moment when I’m shooting. I am an observer and a doer at the same time.
Actually, this sensation sort of asked the initial question of why I wanted to make 'Merlin'. I
asked what happiness and living in the moment meant to me. I tried to find out more through shooting this film.
Perhaps,' happiness' is the theme I want to talk about throughout my works. Still, to be completely honest, I also want to learn about people's pain and sadness. I'm just interested in capturing images of people who have great stories to share.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
The most important thing for me when doing a project is having fun by trying different things. I ask myself, "Can I improve my skills and try out different things in this project?" If the answer is yes, I'll most likely do it.
Also, I always try to leave some room open for improvised shots. I enjoy making spontaneous decisions to change things up and get out of box results.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?
Vincent Moon has always been a filmmaker I look up to. I found out about him when I was 14 through a channel called La Blogotheque. The one-take live shows on the channel were so beautiful to me. The series felt so intimate and organic, they really stuck with me. I wanted to know who was behind the camera, and it was a French filmmaker named Vincent Moon. Luckily, I got a chance to meet him years later in Paris when I took a visit after my service in the Korean military. He was really nice to meet up with me and gave me some advices.
I'm also a big fan of Jim Jarmusch films such as Mystery Train, Stranger Than Paradise, and Coffee and Cigarettes.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?
I think there is more chance for independent filmmakers or filmmakers who are starting out because of the increasing need for short-form content or content for social media. In my case, the pandemic actually helped my career when I was back in Korea during COVID, where the case numbers were pretty low compared to other places. During this time, many companies and brands in Korea wanted to make video content for marketing purposes since in-person marketing was not possible. I got to take many chances and build my portfolio.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?
I think making mistakes is crucial because you can learn from them. I still make mistakes, but I try not to make the same ones again. It's scary to make mistakes, but these days I am grateful that I know I'm making mistakes because that means I can learn from them. So don't be afraid to make mistakes.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
Yes, I think it can with more festivals like TISFF where they support independent filmmakers and their works.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?
I think people enjoy watching shorter and lighter content these days because the times have been so depressing recently. But I feel like the pandemic also broadened the spectrum of people's tastes as well because we spent so much time in front of the computer searching for something interesting.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
These days, I've been working on shorter video works such as fashion campaigns and music videos. I've been trying to collaborate more with talented people in New York. While I do enjoy shooting these types of videos, I want to challenge myself in directing a narrative film. I'm not sure when it will be, but I'm always working on film projects.