“You’re looking down on me too, aren’t you?”
“Young master. There’s no way a beggar like me will dare look down on you, is there? How could I look down on young master when I get by everyday by begging? Don’t you think so?”
“You still dare to.”
“If you want to hit me, then go ahead. Instead, stick a grain of rice on your hand so that I can get some food.”
Uljin played the role of Gaeguk, who liked to poke fun at people. Giwoo, who played the role of the young Han Myung-hoe, grabbed Uljin’s collar and snorted.
“Cut! Let’s do that again.”
Producer Changsung stood up from where the monitor was and stood in front of the two child actors. The veteran producer consoled the two child actors and clearly told them what they had to do.
“Both of you are doing okay, but we’re currently doing a close-up shot. I want your expressions to be more vivid. Do you get what I mean? Both of you are too focused on your voices, so the scene looks too bland.”
After producer Changsung walked away, and they reset the camera, they started shooting again. They were shooting the same scene for the fifth time now. Although the actors did the same act several times over, the camera shot at different angles each time. One would shoot Giwoo’s face, one would shoot Uljin’s, and then they would take another shot at an angle so that both of their faces could be seen, and so on.
The person in charge of the camera focus seemed to have finished adjusting the lens as the camera director gave a signal. The shoot resumed. It seemed to go well this time, but a person jumped up from behind the fence on the other side of the camera and took a photo. He was a boy that looked to be in high school.
“Hey, over there!”
One of the staff shouted and ran towards the fence. The two child actors that were absorbed in their roles scratched their heads before returning to their original positions.
“Geez, why can’t they just cooperate with us,” the staff standing right next to Maru spoke.
This person was in charge of the props. When the good flow was broken due to a prank, people started sighing here and there. The staff that chased the student came back while shaking his head. It seemed that he missed the boy.
“Let’s not mind too much about it and start shooting ag….”
Just as producer Changsung was about to console the child actors, the sound of an aeroplane could be heard this time. The acoustics staff holding a boom mic in the air shrugged his shoulders and lowered it for a moment.
“Looks like there are already signs that our drama will be hugely successful. Getting a lot of distractions on the first shoot is a sign that the work will be successful.”
Hearing the producer’s words, the actors and the staff all laughed. Changsung soothed the atmosphere like the conductor of an orchestra. Changsung just showed how much of a difference the producer makes.
“Let’s try that again.”
The disturbance was gone and the aeroplane had gone away. A faint light shone upon the quiet beggar den once again. The cameras started rolling and the acoustics engineer adjusted various equipment. After checking on all of them the producer gave a cue sign again, and the child actors started acting again.
Maru watched the act for a while before taking a step back and opening the script. It seemed that there was still quite some time until the rest of the beggars would appear in the story. Although producer Changsung’s speech was soft, his requests were very on-point.
He was going back and forth between pages when he felt a gaze on him. When he looked next to him, he saw a girl looking at the script in his hands with round eyes. He remembered the girl’s name. It was Kim Bitna.
“Wanna see it?”
Seeing her nod, he passed the script over to her. Despite the fact that she was only at the age where she would have just entered elementary school, she read the script very composedly. Perhaps she had what it took to become a star one day.
Maru looked around him. He saw a woman wearing sunglasses outside the set. She was Bitna’s mother who drove off in a cool manner last time. He met eyes with her once, and she greeted him first with a nod. She was probably telling him to take care of her daughter. Maru nodded back.
“Well, let’s flip it now.”
Hearing the producer’s words, the lights and equipment located behind Giwoo moved to behind Uljin.
“Wow, they’re shooting again?”
A small voice could be heard. It seemed that this was the first time witnessing a shoot for one of the staff members. Maru also laughed during his first time out of absurdity. On TV, it was at most a minute-long scene, but it took several hours to shoot such a short scene. When he didn’t know, he thought that the scene was taken at multiple angles at once with multiple cameras, but in reality, there were only a few cameras and the same scene was shot several times. The same lines were said over and over again, and once the background changed or it felt somewhat off from the previous shoot, the shoot would pause, the background would be reset and then they would start shooting again. It was the pinnacle of repetition.
“We’re going to take a close-up shot of your hands when you grab his collar. You don’t need to make it look shaky. Your hands will shake by themselves if you clench hard enough.”
After the shoot ended, producer Changsung called for the minor actors. The eight beggars, including Maru, stood in front of Changsung.
“It’s almost lunch time, so let’s get this done quickly. Beggars 1 and 2 will stand next to the 2nd beggar and talk to each other as they come in. Then, you quickly rush to the two main characters when you see them grabbing each other by the collar. Exaggerate yourselves. Think of it as if your house is on fire.”
After engraving producer Changsung’s orders into their minds, the group was moved to the outside of the opening. While the rail cameras were being set up, producer Jinhyuk approached Maru.
“The focus is on you.”
Producer Jinhyuk nodded to the camera director before speaking to the minor actors.
“You will start walking from there and come all the way here, and find that Gaeguk is grabbed by the collar. The cut only ends when you run all the way here so bear that in mind.”
Maru looked at the line that Jinhyuk drew with his foot and replied ‘yes’.
“Let’s go over our lines once.”
He went over the lines with the people that played beggars 1 and 2. The context was that they received a lot of leftover party food due to luck. They walked forward while exchanging a conversation. After they made sense of what they had to do, they returned to their starting positions.
“Let’s do this.”
Maru spoke to the other minor actors. They were all around his age or were younger than him. Since they were minor actors, the shoot should end easily as long as they didn’t make a huge mistake.
After all the equipment was set up, producer Changsung signalled them to get ready. After looking at the camera once, Maru calmed down his breathing. There was a boom mic above his head. The shoot was about to begin now.
‘Lines are uttered out, not spoken out.’
Since he was a beggar, there was no need to put weight into his words. Drawing the picture of a beggar that producer Changsung asked from Uljin, he stretched his chin lightly. He saw producer Changsung grab the walkie talkie with his hand as he sat in front of the monitor. Producer Changsung looked at them with a relaxing smile before raising his hand to his eye level and shouting ‘things are looking good, cue when you’re ready!’.
He grinned and started walking, starting with his right foot. He was holding a rice ball that the props team gave him and walked towards the opening. His footsteps were light, and his shoulders were moving up and down as though he was about to start humming. The curved lips, and the matching eyes. He put thought into every bit of his action as he moved. Unless he reached a stage where he could do all that reflexively, he would have to put a lot of effort into controlling his emotions so that unnecessary expression and emotion didn’t leak out from him. If he could not restrain his emotions, it would either look exaggerated or just plain awkward. To express his emotions so that it didn’t look out of place, he had to know how to rule over each strand of his emotions. If that was impossible, then restraint was the basics of acting.
‘Instructor Miso’s words are worth listening to.’
He just had to show a beggar that looked cheerful. Any more than that was a waste, and the producer wouldn’t want that either.
“I wish every day was like today.”
“Yeah. I also wish there were parties every day.”
“Look at this! I also got pumpkin candy!”
Beggar 2 showed off his pumpkin candy and spoke. That was an exaggerated action that wasn’t there during the rehearsal.
Maru perked up his ears. Fortunately, he didn’t hear the producer’s voice. Maru reacted to that act in a way that wouldn’t look too out of place.
“Good for you~.”
He took the pumpkin candy from beggar 2 with a teasing voice. It seemed that it was okay until this point. The line that Jinhyuk drew entered his eyes. As Maru placed his foot on top of the line, he turned his face to look at the opening. He saw their captain being grabbed by the collar. He was a thankful younger brother who solved the meals for the beggars around here with his smarts and talent in speech. When he thought of it like that, anger started rushing into his head.
He shouted and started running. The other minor actors also shouted ‘hey!’ before following him. As they took around five to six steps, producer Changsung shouted cut.
“Good, you did well. But can you come here for a moment?”
Maru and the two minor actors stood in front of producer Changsung.
“That was good, but since you rushed out forward, I couldn’t get any shots of the two of you since your heads got in the way of each other. Like that, the viewers wouldn’t know who is talking. It means that it would look awkward.”
The guy playing beggar 2 apologized.
“Don’t feel so down. You did good. You did good, but I’m telling you to do at least what we agreed on. Oh, and 2nd beggar.”
Producer Changsung narrowed his eyes and pointed at the rice ball in Maru’s hands before speaking.
“Can you do the same thing while eating that?”
Maru looked at the rice ball in his hand.
“If it’s edible, I will.”
“Are your hands clean?”
“Hey, make a rice ball!”
One of the people that followed Jinhyuk around all the time ran towards the props team. A while later, he returned with a rice ball on a tray. The rice ball was made with white rice, powdered laver, and some vegetables. Maru liked how it looked decently dirty.
“That looks good. 2nd beggar, here you go.”
He grabbed the warm rice ball.
“Try saying your line while eating it.”
Maru nodded his head and took a big bite. He was supposed to be a beggar. There was no need for him to cover his mouth and laugh like a noble lady or something. He just munched on some rice before saying his line when producer Changsung signalled him to.
“I wish every day was like today.”
Although grains of rice got stuck below his tongue and in his gum, his pronunciation was on point. As the tone of speech wasn’t that strong, there weren’t any difficulties speaking while eating.
“Walk around and try saying your next line.”
His next line was the stretched out line. He would drag out the words ‘good for you’ and emphasize the ‘you’ at the end. Unlike the first line, it was likely that he might end up spitting out some of the rice grains in his mouth. Maru walked and said his line upon the director’s signal after taking another bite.
“Good for you~.”
The moment he said that some rice popped out of his mouth. Maru quickly received the grains with his left hand and made a sucking sound to put them back in his mouth. Then, he started walking again as though nothing had happened.
“That. Do exactly that.”
Producer Changsung smiled and went back to his position. Maru grabbed the new rice ball that the staff gave him and stood at his starting position. After exchanging glances with the other minor actors, he waited for the producer’s signal.
“Well, then. Cue!”
Producer Changsung’s voice could be heard.
* * *
Changsung crossed his arms and looked at the monitor. The group of beggars were walking forward. Seeing the beggar at the front smile in a joyous manner, Changsung smiled as well.
“He sure is.”
Jinhyuk agreed with him from the side. Yes, the lead and supporting actors were the most important in a drama. It was especially the case since actors with frightening skills could resuscitate a crappy script and a doomed direction. What was next then? Changsung believed that it was the background.
Even among the background elements, he thought that the background created by people was the most important. The minor actors, without knowing the importance of those people, who didn’t even have that many lines, one could not call himself a director. It was the sum of the images of such minor characters that created the atmosphere of the era. The minor roles were in charge of transferring what the people were like in the era that the drama was set in to the viewers.
They could be considered to have done their full jobs just by appearing on screen, and they were even good at saying their lines? He couldn’t help but praise them.
“Good for you~.”
That shamelessness of just sucking back in the rice that popped out of his mouth without overreacting was just great. If he hurriedly sucked in the rice as though it was such a waste, Changsung would have told him to tone down his act, but that boy restrained himself as though he knew that already. Even while restraining himself, he showed the necessary parts as he walked forward.
It seemed that he had thought about how he would be portrayed on the camera.
There was a common saying among the actors in this field. The camera shows what is not seen. The screen, for some curious reason, showed the effort, passion, and amount of practice that the actors had. It turned those values into numbers and allowed the viewers to evaluate the actors.
After the camera shot up to the point where they were about to rush ahead, Changsung shouted cut.
“I guess we don’t need to do that again.”
They got a satisfactory cut on the second shoot.
 So it seems that beggar 2 and 2nd beggar (Maru) are two different roles… First beggar is probably Gaeguk, but he’ll probably be written as ‘Gaeguk’ in the script.
 This line is supposed to be stretched out, but I obviously can’t do that with English. So you’ll have to bear with ‘~’.
 The original sounds like ‘Jou~ketta!’. Some strong consonants in there will make some of the food he was eating pop out. It’s not the case in English though. I will try to come up with a better alternative and change it in the future.
It's always great to see Maru doing good.
I guess Maru already had two rice balls for lunch then, lol.