Chapter 512

“It’s such a pity though. It’s such a pity though. It’s such, a pity though.”

The words became a little awkward when he took a breath midway through the line. The ‘with a bit of pause’ written on the script probably didn’t refer to that. Pause. It was a rather peculiar word. It was a very clear word, but there was an element of abstractness to it as well. He had to physically stop speaking, look at the opponent, and draw out the emotion in that short burst of silence. Facial expressions, speech tones, bodily actions - Maru flipped through the script and kept looking at the flow of emotions that the writer wrote in the script to see whether he missed anything, or if he got confused with the emotions of another character. Even after he checked several times, he still felt something was off as soon as he flipped the page.

“Let’s do that once again. Lights, don’t cast any shadows on our actors’ faces.”

Maru took his eyes off the script and looked at the camera. Suyeon was talking to the kids in the corridor. She was smiling as though nothing happened, but the face she had when she turned around and looked at the camera was colored with unspeakable sadness.

“Cuttt!”

Producer Park Hoon emphasized the t in cut. At first, Maru wondered why he did that, but now he knew that that signified. Park Hoon would shout like that whenever he got a take that was very much to his liking. He was standing up with satisfaction right now as well.

“Bring more of that emotion out. This time, make an expression that expresses more of a current pain rather one from sadness in the past.”

“I think that was pretty good though,” Suyeon said as she pouted.

“It was good, yes, but let’s do that one more time. Senior, please shoot from the right this time.”

“You’re having fun.”

The camera director cracked his neck sideways as he said those words.

“Please. Also, hold the boom mic as close as possible.”

Park Hoon did not give instructions to the child actors, but he asked for a lot from the adult directors. He even gave directions to Hwang Joonghoon, who he called ‘sir’[1]. Of course, with respect.

The camera started rolling again.

Maru closed his ears and focused on the script again. The reason the director doesn’t give out directions for the child actors was probably because of efficiency. Pros, such as Suyeon over there, would listen to what the director wanted and produce results that matched. The director might or might not like that result, but Suyeon would provide him with a result that was close to what the director wanted.

Park Hoon requested another take from Suyeon, and despite the fact that Suyeon showed a splendid act, he had her do the same scene with a different set of emotions this time.

That wasn’t easy. There were no lines involved here, and the only things that could change were the facial muscles and the movement of the eyes. Suyeon would have to use those limited resources and combine them differently to express two different types of sadness.

That was what a pro was about.

Park Hoon told the child actors ‘you are pros’ as well, but Maru understood the meaning of that ‘pro’ was something different from what he considered pros. To Park Hoon, the child actors were probably ‘pros’ in the sense that they were paid for their provided labor. If the child actors were able to prove that they were able to show different colors of their acting whenever the director requested them to, the director would probably give out instructions to them as well.

‘You can’t call yourself a pro if you can’t listen to the requests of your client.’

He muttered his lines several times to engrave them in his mind. Just then, Suyeon’s scene ended. It was 2 p.m. Everyone here knew that they had to shoot as much as possible on the weekend when the school was empty in order to decrease their workload during the weekdays, so the walking speed of not only the staff but also the actors was quite quick when they switched locations.

“We’ll move to the corridor of the 2nd floor now!”

There should be around 30 minutes of free time for the equipment to be set up so they entered the classroom. The staff did not care what an actor did when they didn’t have a scene to take. They just had to be in front of the camera when the shoot occurred. Jichan and Yeseul were probably waiting inside vans with heaters. He didn’t know where Okseon was.

Giwoo and Dongho were going over their lines together since their scene was right after the upcoming one. After their scene would be the classroom scene. Maru would become busy starting then.

“Your eyes might pop out, you know?”

Suyeon was standing in front of him with a bright smile. She was wearing a thick padded coat.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Oh, my. What’s gotten into you? Asking questions like that.”

“I’ll take that as a yes so have a look at this part.”

Maru pointed at one part of the script. Eyes red due to being agitated - that expressed Lee Chan’s state of emotions.

“Does eyes red mean that I actually have to have bloodshot eyes?”

“That depends on the interpretation of the actor. Also on the director’s instructions. While there are people who really tense their eyes and make their eyes bloodshot, there are also people that interpret it as an emotional thing and just start glaring. Fundamentally, actors are supposed to act based on the script, but there are things that are left up to interpretation.”

“What would you do, senior?”

“Me? I like following the script. If I was the one doing this, I would either keep my eyes open for a long time without blinking or perhaps rub my eyes. That makes them look a little redder, you know? You can discern it through the camera if the camera has its focus on you. That’s how I would do it. It’s an interpretation that sticks to the basics.”

“Sticks to the basics, huh.”

He nodded. Suyeon told him good luck before walking past him. After watching her walk with the make-up artist for a while, he moved to the 2nd floor.

Interpretation of the script. When he shot Youth Generation, he didn’t hear much. He was only a minor character, did not have many scenes, and above all, the shoot was on a tight schedule, so he got an okay sign quickly most of the time.

In Twilight Struggles, he clung to that single line again and again before attending the shoot and finished the cut in one go. He did not even have the time to listen to what the director’s intentions were.

As for the movie he shot with director Park Joongjin, there was no room for ‘his interpretation’. Joongjin already had a near-perfect picture in his head, and actors were just tools to complete that image for him. On the last day of the shoot, he changed his acting on his own accord and caught Joongjin’s eyes, but that wasn’t an act that came about through plenty of talk with the director.

He thought that he rarely had any interactions with the directors about the interpretations of the script. Well, all he played were some minor roles or passing-by roles, so the directors probably neither had the time nor the reason to look at him deeply.

Was this right? Maru underlined the line on the script with a pen as he thought about that. There was no ‘answer’ when it came to acting. If there was a systemized answer just like mathematics, who would watch dramas and movies? It would be the same no matter who appeared in it.

Precisely because there wasn’t a correct answer, acting possessed infinite possibilities. That also made it hard. He chose a path that he thought was the best among the numerous split paths, but other people might see it as the worst. This was his first time as a supporting character. Maru felt very complex. He sighed in relief when he got an okay in one go, but looking at Suyeon who changed up her acting upon the director’s instructions, he inwardly felt like he could do better.

Could he have shown the director a different kind of acting when he said that they should do another take? The relief of having finished his scene and the regret of being excluded from more possibilities kept clashing inside him.

“Maru, can you help me with practice? I just can’t get my lines right,” Joomin approached him and asked.

Maru nodded. He couldn’t keep clinging on to a problem he couldn’t produce an answer to forever. He would naturally arrive at an answer as long as he kept working with producer Park Hoon, so it was much better for him to focus on working together with his colleagues right now.

“Should I start from here?”

“Yeah, it’s this part.”

“I wonder if Seri hates me?”

That was Yeseul’s line. There was no need for him to say the lines in a feminine way, so he just read it out clearly to practice his pronunciation. Joomin followed up with her line. Just like that, they exchanged a few lines.

“This line. I really can’t get used to saying this one.”

-(To Yeseul, grabbing her hand, wanting her to rely on her a little more) I’m on your side, so tell me whenever something happens. I’ll listen to you. We are friends, aren’t we? We’ll be best friends forever.

That was the line Joomin had to say. Maru reached out. Joomin looked at him.

“Wouldn’t it be better if you say the line while acting a bit?”

“Should I?”

Joomin grabbed his hand with both of her hands and said her line. The line wasn’t that long and did not contain any difficult words either, but she kept screwing up. When she did manage to say her words properly, even Maru could tell that it was way too dry.

“It’s no good, right?”

Joomin let go of his hand. Maru replied yes. Rather than shooting over and over again, it would be much better to listen to some bitter words and fix it right here.

“What do you think is the problem?”

“I’m not sure. I can only tell you the theoretical stuff.”

“Tell me. My head is completely blank right now.”

“First, I think the most important problem is whether you actually like Yeseul or not. Or perhaps there’s a word that you find hard to pronounce.”

“It’s not about pronunciation. There’s nothing difficult since it’s spoken normally. So I guess it’s an emotional thing after all?”

“Did something happen between you and her, and not the character Yeseul?”

Maru pointed at Yeseul, who was coming up to the 2nd floor with Jichan. Joomin shook her head.

“It’s just like usual. Greeting her and talking to her like usual.”

After thinking about something for a while, Joomin told him to help her out once again. She also told him to see if anything changed about her. Maru observed her expressions carefully as he repeated the same lines. It did sound much better than before.

“I think that just now was a lot better.”

“Is that how I should do it?”

“You don’t like it?”

“I was trying to change up my acting a little. I monitored the 2nd episode, but it looked a little too bland. That’s why I tried to be conscious of my expressions a little and I think that’s the problem.”

Joomin pouted before loosening her cheeks and sighing.

“My manager-oppa told me that I’m not eye-catching. I’m doing my best since I’m a supporting character, so I felt like I was losing strength when I heard him.”

Just how many actors did not want to gain recognition for their acting skills? Joomin even said that her dream was to become successful and famous. To her, being ‘not eye-catching’ must be a serious problem.

“Do you want to try asking the director?” asked Maru.

Joomin made a difficult expression. During the past 3 months, the director never talked to a child actor one-on-one in regards to acting. It wasn’t an easy thing to approach producer Park Hoon, who had made his intentions clear regarding acting philosophy. Even Maru was watching his words in fear that he might be hated, but now he felt the need to become bolder. There was a possibility of him swearing at Maru if he went by himself, so he felt that it would be better to go with Joomin, who would share that burden with him. He actually wanted to bring others in this as well.

He approached Jichan and Yeseul carefully. He asked the two whether they had anything to ask the director about acting, but the two shook their heads. Those two were being cautious about it as well.

In the end, the two walked to the director with Maru at the front. He had lost a bit of his confidence in interpreting the script. If he kept forging ahead without knowing what to do like this, he might start doing the wrong things, so he thought that he should ask questions now, even if it meant the director snapping out at him.

“Is it really okay for us to talk to him first?”

“I’m not sure either.”

Although producer Park Hoon called them ‘little dreamers’ in an endearing way, the sense of distance was quite considerable. That was probably because the way he snapped at them on the first day was engraved into their minds. Maru decided that he should approach him anyway, taking consolation from the fact that the director was actually quite close to the adult actors usually. If he was told ‘you’re cocky’ or ‘you can’t even interpret it by yourself?’ or something like that, he would make a foolish smile and quickly step back. At most, he would get the ‘silly kid’ treatment and things would end there.

After the corridor scene ended, Maru walked up to producer Park Hoon, who told the staff to move the equipment. Park Hoon, who was talking to the scripter, turned around to stare at Maru.

“Director.”

“Yeah, what is it?”

“There’s something I want to ask you about regarding the interpretation of the script and about acting, is that okay with you?”

The more adult you were, the weaker you became in front of power. Maru found the man in front of him really hard to deal with. He could act friendly towards Junmin since Junmin expressed his goodwill so openly, but meeting a superior he didn’t have a good relationship with made him gulp subconsciously.

After pausing for a while, producer Park Hoon spoke,

“That took you long enough.”

He sounded as though he had been waiting for this moment.


[1] Something’s wrong here. He called Hwang Joonghoon ‘senior’ and not ‘sir’ in the last chapter.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Author seems to really screw up 'call names' in this chapter and the next chapter (and perhaps even more)

Always good to see Maru's skills improving!

Editor's Note:
I hope Maru gains Park Hoon's approval and can finally climb up. Hope Joomin can get it too. She's the only one I don't get annoyed by out of the child actors.