“How were we?”
They had a break after a round of practice. Maru asked that question to Miso and Ganghwan who were sitting in front of the window, watching them practice. They didn’t have perfect control over their lines, some people burst out laughing, and it was far from perfect, but this was their first run that they showed to others. He wanted to hear their honest opinions.
“You guys need a lot of practice. It’s far from perfect. Especially the first years. Confidence is good and all, but skill is something different to confidence. Are you sure that you’re putting all your effort?”
“Honestly speaking, it’s not as hot as it was last year.”
“You were never hot though.”
“That’s true,” Maru replied with a smile.
Last year, they had an objective that was to win the nation-wide competition. In the first place, Miso had the students practice with the competition in mind, so the atmosphere was very competitive and practice was arduous.
However, this year was different. The first problem was the lack of practice space. As their practice space had become smaller, there was a limit to their training. The instructor in charge, Suyeon, was also different from Miso in regards to the way they handled things. Suyeon did not care about the achievements. To her, being an instructor was just a job that Junmin gave her. She never had the ambition to recreate the past glory like how Miso did. Lastly, the members of the club also had their own circumstances, leading to lack of practice.
“It’ll be good if we win, but I’m planning to listen to their opinions first. Also, Daemyung’s opinion is very important too.”
“I do want to see Woosung High School winning the nation-wide competition, but well, I’m not in charge anymore. They look like they’re enjoying it and it’s not bad.”
“They’re all good kids after all,” Maru looked back as he spoke.
Daemyung was giving the others an explanation regarding the script. The members were concentrating on him as well. They definitely had a higher sense of unity than last year.
“If you guys are satisfied with the fact that you guys are preparing for a play and don’t mind about the results, then I guess this is enough. You’re doing well. With a bit more practice, you might be able to aim for 2nd prize.”
“What if we aim for the grand prize?”
“Then, like I said, you guys are far from perfect.”
At that moment, Ganghwan, who was listening this whole time, spoke,
“It’s good to enjoy it. Maru, you are well aware of how Miso can be tiring if she decides to put her mind to it.”
“That I do.”
“This woman’s standards are too high. She wants perfection from those starting off. Working with her will make her teammates tired. However, I can say this: she will make them proud of what they did. After all, the sadness and the joy are multiplied according to the effort and time invested. If you do as you’re doing now, then you’ll neither be extremely joyful nor extremely depressed after the competition. After all, that’s what doing things ‘moderately’ entails.”
“That sounds very charming for me.”
“Really? Just moderately doing things?” Ganghwan asked in surprise.
Maru made a bitter smile.
“Honestly speaking, I want to invest as much time as I can in this on the condition that it doesn’t get in the way of my work. No, I want to focus more on it even if I have to push myself a little. You know? I actually felt very frustrated that I wasn’t able to go on stage last winter. I’m only saying this now, but I would sometimes stare at the clock while stroking my broken leg, thinking that the others should be on stage by now.”
“That’s because of the effort you put in. That much investment leads to that much loss.”
“You’re definitely right. If I did things moderately back then, I wouldn’t have been frustrated either.”
“It didn’t feel that good, did it?”
“It was horrible.”
“Doesn’t that make you desire to win even more?”
Hearing that question, Maru shrugged his shoulders. Victory. How many people in this world liked to lose? Any human would want to wear the crown if they could. He was unable to go on stage due to his burns. After moving around vigorously until he smelled sour; reciting his lines until he could hum the words, it felt even more frustrating after it all ended in vain.
He did become ambitious. This year, everyone’s talents were better than last year and they were better unified as well. They definitely had what it takes to challenge the competition.
“Maru, can I see you for a sec?” Daemyung called out. Maru looked at his two seniors as he spoke.
“The club president is calling for me, so if you would excuse me.”
Miso smiled back at him.
“We should get going too, right?”
Miso pulled Ganghwan up. The members of the club realized what was going on and stood in front of them.
“Work hard. And enjoy yourselves. Don’t leave behind any regrets.”
“I’m not a graduate from this school, but I’ll be cheering for you as someone working in the industry. Good luck.”
The two left after saying their goodbyes. Everyone was going to see them out, but the two refused them.
After sending the two off in the corridor, the club members returned to the classroom.
“Miso-unni was so cool,” Aram said as she raised her two thumbs.
Jiyoon also nodded.
“If you spend time with her, you’ll find out that she’s not as cool as you think she is.”
Maru and Daemyung smiled at the same time. It was ‘memories’ in retrospect, but at that time, they had an extremely hard time.
“Can I have your attention again?” Daemyung sat down and spoke.
“It’s definitely worth complimenting that you aren’t making as many mistakes as before. First years, well done. However, you still have a lot to go. Lines are something that’s hard to memorize by themselves. You need to engrave them into your body according to the flow of the story. It’s just like how song lyrics are hard to memorize without the melody, and it’s easy to learn it if you try singing it. Acting is the same. Don’t just memorize your lines but try to learn the lines before and after your lines. Going further, try to remember the flow of the story.”
The members nodded.
“Aram, your pronunciation and vocal power are perfect. You sound full of confidence as well. However, I want you to bring out the traits of a scammer some more. I’m saying that you should be dynamic with your words. Normally, you should lower your voice and erupt out loudly at the most important moment. That gives you more impact. You’ll see what I mean if you try watching videos of people giving speeches. Scammers are people whose voices are very important so bear that in mind.”
Aram wrote the things that Daemyung pointed out on her script.
“Bangjoo, I like that you aren’t shy when you’re acting. However, you’re mashing your pronunciation too much because you’re too absorbed into the situation. Right now, there’s only us here and we all know what you’re going to say, so we can understand what you’re saying, but it’s likely that it’s not the same for the audience. You’ll have to show that you’re drunk with your actions, and make your speech a little clearer.”
“As for Jiyoon… I think it’ll be better if you let yourself go a little more. The script says this, but the hostess is a charming woman to the point that the people in the cell are giving her glances. But what’s important here is that ‘charming’ doesn’t just mean pretty. But right now, you’re trying too hard to look pretty. Hm, was that too difficult for you to understand?”
“No. I think I get what you’re saying. I’ll try to fix it.”
Jiyoon nodded as well. Daemyung smiled and continued onto the next person.
“Dowook, you are doing really well. I don’t really have anything to point out. If there’s just one thing, I wish you could react to your conversation partner’s words a little more. You have the tendency to interrupt others mid way because you’re too focused on your words, but while that fits the character of a delinquent, it might make your conversation partner panic a little.”
“So you want me to restrain myself a little?”
“Simply put, yes.”
Dowook accepted it as well.
Daemyung definitely had a wide field of vision. It wasn’t easy giving every single person feedback, but he put in the effort every time to give advice. His advice wasn’t something vague either, but was incredibly detailed. He was doing something that many people couldn’t.
“How was I?”
After his part, Daemyung always asked what he himself could improve upon. There would be an awkward silence if Daemyung was the tyrannical type of club president, but as his personality was so good, the club members could point things out with ease. Daemyung even wrote down even the most minute of things to fix his acting.
‘He’s one amazing guy.’
He’s the type to do well no matter what he did. Daemyung encouraged everyone before they started practicing again. They spent another hour practicing. This time it was much better.
“It’s past 8 already,” Maru spoke as he looked at the clock. Daemyung gathered everyone around, looking somewhat unsatisfied.
“Well done everyone. Have a safe trip back home.”
“Thanks for your work.”
Maru waved his hand to Dowook, Bangjoo, Jiyoon and Aram who left the club. Jiyoon and Aram had to go home by 9, so they couldn’t stay any longer to practice. Bangjoo lived alone, so they couldn’t keep him late, while Dowook was here to fill in the members, so it was hard to ask him to do anything difficult.
Maru spoke to Daemyung, who didn’t leave yet.
“If you think about it, last year was amazing.”
“You’re right. Instructor Miso had us practicing until the last bus.”
“We practically lived in school.”
“Even if I look back on it, I can’t help but wonder. I mean, the girls didn’t have a curfew either.”
“If they had, then I’m sure senior Miso would have called their parents to lift the curfew and tell them that she would take responsibility.”
“You’re definitely right.”
Maru looked at the clock before speaking.
“You’re doing a triple role today as well?”
“It’s a pity to leave it here.”
Maru picked up the scripts on the floor. It would be good if everyone could practice together, but it was hard to do so. In the end, the only thing the remaining, passionate people could do was to do double or triple roles.
“When should we go back today?”
Daemyung scratched his head and smiled. He was quite tenacious in the most peculiar things, so it was likely that he would stay here until the last bus if no one said anything to him. And that was just what Maru wanted.
In acting, there was no clear scoring standard. There was no way to know how far one had come or how well they did. However, there came a point when even the actor realizes that he or she had improved.
To experience such a thing, Maru had to spend his time very wisely. He intuitively knew that these practice hours will come back to him in the form of stable acting skills.
“Then let’s start.”
“No interrupting mid way, okay?”
“You don’t need to tell me that.”
After taking in a deep breath, Maru started off the first line.
It was getting late into the night, yet the lights at the school did not turn off.
* * *
Joonggeun always found his filmography to be a pity.
At first, he had no grand dream of becoming a movie director. At first, he started off as a new recruit at an outsourcing camera shooting company. His job was to take videos while wearing camera equipment that weighed several dozen kilograms. He started that job because he found it interesting that he could film the picture he wanted in that square frame.
Then, he chanced upon a movie director that had retired, developing his new dream.
-What good is filming a picture? You need to film a story.
That director, who he now treated as his teacher, moved Joonggeun’s heart. After that, he started studying film production. First, he bought a book titled Filming 101 from overseas and started reading it. After that, he read books related to scenario making. As for using the camera, he had his experiences and learned from his seniors on the field, so he was confident in that.
With his self-study and his unique connections, he spent two years studying what a movie was. At that time, he came to a conclusion.
“Dammit, if you film, then it’s a movie.”
He ignored all of his seniors who used all sorts of English words and aesthetic language to describe how great and how abstract movies were and started shooting movies with an 8mm camera and a single light panel. He grabbed actors he got close to while he worked as a cameraman as well as a junior of his who knew basic audio mixing, and finished a movie in just one month. Then, he submitted the movie in an independent movie award and received a prize.
After that, he worked as a new recruit in the production team under a famous film director for a brief moment and quit because he wanted to be in charge of the megaphone. After that, he went round knocking on the doors with various production companies with the scenarios he had saved up for some time and he received his opportunity.
That was how his first movie came to be. The results were quite good. For a movie that didn’t cast famous actors, the achievements were quite good. However, he badly screwed up his next work and was unable to hold the megaphone for the next 5 years. He started working in film production from the bottom in order to make a living, and shot another movie thanks to an opportunity, but he screwed up that one as well. He was tagged the ‘failing director’ and he continued writing scenarios for five years after that. By then, he was forty.
He had a place to work, so he didn’t have any difficulties in everyday life, but he despaired seeing that all of his work after his first work had failed. However, he did not know how to give up. He was forty-five when his next opportunity came to him. The total budget was 6 billion won, and he decided to take the job with the mindset that he would never grab the megaphone again if he failed this one. The result? It had 7 million views. It was a great success. After that, every film he directed had more than 5 million views. He gained the nickname the ‘golden hand’. However, at the same time, he was tagged the director ‘whose work had no cinematic quality.’
Cinematic quality. Joonggeun remembered back to his first ever work. No one talked about the lack of cinematic quality for that movie. Even though it was shot in a crappy 8mm camera, had less-than-perfect visuals, and the actors in it were not the best, it was evaluated good for having a ‘strong message’.
Ambition. Joonggeun became ambitious. Just as he thought that he was at a level he could show the world, Junmin, a close friend of his, gave him an offer.
-Do you want to try using sir Moonjoong as the main character?
The day after he heard those words, he put the scenario he was writing inside his drawer.
And right now.
“How was I?”
Seeing Moonjoong with an intense glint in his eyes through the monitor, Joonggeun spoke.
“Let’s try that again.”
He was ruthless.
 The South Korean population in 2004 was roughly 48 million, so that means around 15% of the entire Korean population watched it. Which is quite a lot.
I love how this chapter starts off with "How were we" from Maru and ends with "How was I" from Moonjoong