“Aren’t you supposed to be busy?”
“I have some free time now, thanks to Sooil overworking himself until he got sick. I heard that you’re going to shoot immediately?”
Maru got in the car. Byungchan stepped on the gas pedal and drove off.
“Yes. A re-shoot of the entire episode, apparently.”
“Writer Lee Hanmi is big alright, including the scale of her accidents.”
“Why do you think she suddenly changed it?”
“I wouldn’t know. That woman is known for being a pain in the butt as well after all. Though, it looks like she changed the direction of the whole story if she’s changing an entire episode.”
“Right? I did find the script slightly weird when I studied it, and it seems like the writer thought the same.”
“It’s good that she changed it before the episode aired. There are tons of dramas that went downhill because the writer was swayed by the viewers' opinions. The internet really is a problem. If you listen to their opinions, you’ll drive the ship up the mountain, but if you ignore them, the media will cause a fuss.”
“I guess the only way is to stick to your roots.”
“Veteran writers have experience and character, so they are affected less, but apparently, the new writers have it hard. The older generation aren’t really close to the internet, but the younger folk are different. It’s not like the writers can hole themselves up somewhere to write like before.”
“There’s nothing easy, huh.”
“There sure isn’t.”
“Oh right, what happened to that audition you were going to do?”
“The short play? I screwed up badly. I listened to the director’s advice as I monitored my own acting, and man, it made me so embarrassed that I wanted to escape that place. I screwed up so hard. I get worse by the day.”
“Do your best. You always say that there’s always a next chance,” Maru said as he looked at Byungchan.
Although Byungchan kept doing auditions while taking care of young actors, no good news ever came out of that. The president apparently connected him to the audition this time, so he should feel incredibly disappointed that he didn’t make it.
After tapping the wheel with his fingers, Byungchan looked his way. There was a relaxed smile on his face.
“You know? I got business cards now.”
The car was stopped by a traffic light. Byungchan took out his business card wallet from his chest pocket. One stiff business card that had a bluish tint, came out of it.
“You made one?”
“No, they made me one. The company, that is.”
Maru checked Byungchan’s position on the business card the moment he received it. Head manager Lee Byungchan. There was a big JA Production logo on the top. Maru noticed the meaning behind the business card immediately, and did not know whether to congratulate him or not.
“Why don’t you congratulate me, huh? I finally got an official position.”
“Yeah. Now my dream is to own a building in Gangnam.”
“That makes becoming an actor sound more realistic.”
“I had to shut down my old dream and find a new one, so it should be bigger than the one before it, no? Dream big. ‘Boys, be ambitious’, don’t you know these words?”
“You know that the words after that are ‘be ambitious not for money or for selfish aggrandizement’. Right?”
“People only listen to what they want to hear. Let’s be ambitious. Whether it’s for money or selfish whatever-that-thing-was.”
Maru smiled faintly and put the business card in his wallet. Byungchan shut off his dream to become an actor and as compensation, he gained a position. Only Byungchan knew whether it was a good thing or not, but he was smiling right now, so it should be something to be congratulated.
“Congratulations, head manager Lee.”
“Looks like I won’t be called actor Lee anymore in the future.”
“You won’t know for sure. You might stumble on a chance. Anyway, you got a pay raise and even got a decent-looking business card. I guess you levelled up as a man of society.”
“All that’s left is to pay off your mortgage, get married, loan money for the marriage, childcare, and have your child be taken by someone else after you worked your ass off for that child. Congratulations. You just got on a really rocky road.”
“That’s one substantial blessing right there. But at least I finished my military service. Thinking about how you’ll be entering that gate in a few years, I’m much better off.”
Maru felt pained when he heard those words, so he looked outside. Thinking about standing night duty gave him a headache.
“Maru. Do you know what cold weather training and guerilla training are?”
“Guerilla training is where you say ‘Oh, I’m dying’, and cold weather training is where you say ‘Oh, please save me’.”
“...You’re quite knowledgeable.”
“That’s true, I am knowledgeable, sadly, that is.”
Maru smiled as he looked at Byungchan. Byungchan looked much more relaxed today. His speech, actions and even his voice. Perhaps due to having let go of the weight of his dream, or because he was given a balloon of success, he became pretty good to look at.
Byungchan turned on the radio.
Maru thought back to what happened during the day as he listened to the calming music.
‘I think something definitely happened to Daemyung.’
Daemyung, who came to school two days ago in baggy clothes kept yawning during lunch and even during practice. Thanks to that, he was scolded a lot by Miso. He looked like he had stayed up the night and when Maru asked him about what happened, he just replied that he met some other writers and talked about different things. Today, Daemyung came to school with a better expression and asked Maru if he knew writer Lee Hanmi first thing in the morning. Maru nodded. Hearing those words, Daemyung made a dazed expression before saying ‘okay’. Seeing his rather strange attitude, he asked Daeyung why he asked such a thing, but Daemyung smiled and said that it was nothing.
The day he was notified of the re-shoot, Daemyung mentioned the name of the writer for New Semester. Was there a relation between the two events?
‘No way, huh.’
He was clearly overthinking. How would Daemyung meet writer Lee Hanmi? Even if he did, there was no room for Daemyung to influence the overhaul of the script. He probably asked about the writer after hearing that Lee Hanmi was one of the writer’s acquaintances.
“We’re here. Good luck.”
Maru picked up his bag and got out of the car. The gates to Seokjin middle school, the shooting location, could be seen right in front of him.
* * *
“Although we have room when it comes to episodes, you never know what will happen when it comes to broadcasting media, so we have to shoot this as quickly as possible. I know that it’s hard to act with a script that’s fresh, but I’ll have to ask you to bear with it. Once we start lagging behind the schedule, we might actually end up having to edit the episode on the day of the airing itself. Let’s do this, everyone!”
Hearing Minjoong, the assistant director, shout, Maru opened the script. It was 7 p.m. on a Friday. Usually, the supporting actors had no scenes or only a couple of scenes, but it seemed that they were going to have to shoot late into the night today.
“What’s up with the overhaul so suddenly?”
Yeseul grumbled as she opened the script before walking away. Giwoo and Jichan also followed her to the front of the class. Okseon had disappeared from the classroom as always.
“I think it was pretty decent. Why do you think it was changed so suddenly?”
Joomin pouted as she sat next to Maru.
“Noona, I did hear something.”
Dongho said that as he sat down. Maru looked at him. He heard something?
“Apparently, writer Lee Hanmi told the director that she’d give up the payment for one episode, so they should re-shoot the 13th episode. She apparently threatened him by saying that she’d quit if the 13th episode aired like this.”
Dongho glanced at the staff members. It seemed that the source of the rumor was the staff.
“Wow, a tough person as always. If it was me, I wouldn’t have been able to do that because I’d feel too apologetic.”
Joomin clicked her tongue.
“She has a lot of self-confidence. She probably doesn’t care about the efforts and pains that other people go through if it doesn’t meet her standards. Rich writers have it good alright. She can make a week’s worth of effort useless with a word from her.”
Dongho flipped through the script in a temperamental way. Joomin also sighed before looking at the script.
“I guess this weekend’s full.”
“What can we do? We just do what we are told to do.”
Going along with Joomin's grumbles, Maru opened the script in his hand. The background hadn’t changed, the field trip episode was still there. However, everything other than that had undergone a complete overhaul. The conflict between the characters especially, was completely different from the previous script.
“Lee Chan has changed to being an onlooker huh.”
“Well, that’s more like Lee Chan.”
Maru faintly nodded as he heard Joomin and Dongho’s words. The drastic change in the personality of the character that he felt while analyzing the previous version of the script for the 13th episode was all gone. Giwoo noticed that he liked Yeseul, but did not end up confessing, and Lee Chan had changed from being the cupid between the two to being an onlooker. Now, it was changed so that the hesitant Jichan used his straightforward personality and showed his interest in Yeseul.
“Wow, so this is how it’s going to go?”
“Looks like Jichan’s popularity will rise. The lines in the script are good today, aren’t they?”
“You think so too, noona? Me too. Maru, what about you?”
“I like the new one much better as well.”
The rather hasty progression of events returned to the norm. Why did someone who could write such a splendid story write the previous episode 13 like that? Was she in a bad condition or something? Or was it the political struggle between the writer and the producer that he had only heard about in rumors? From how she gave the producer a fitting script at this point in time, it did sound like there was some trouble between the writer and the producer.
‘Is she trying to tame us?’
Maru looked at producer Park Hoon, who was preparing for the shoot, from afar. A writer who could control the producer as she wished, huh. He could somewhat imagine such a person. Sharp eyes, graceful hair, and a silver pair of glasses. A middle-aged woman who would spit out frost with each word. It felt quite reasonable after he covered the stereotypical ‘elegant female writer’ figure with the right authoritative power. She was probably a woman who didn’t speak a lot and wore fashionable clothes.
That was enough delusion though. Maru threw away the distracting thoughts from his head and focused on the script. Regardless of what kind of person writer Lee Hanmi was, or what trouble there was between her and the producer, none of it concerned him. She was someone who he wouldn’t be able to meet for the foreseeable future. Unless he became famous, there was no reason for a mere supporting actor to associate with a big-shot writer. Also, if she really was someone who was bossy and tried to make those working with her submit to her as he had imagined, he wouldn’t want to meet her. Just meeting someone like that would be very stressful.
* * *
Daemyung was in a pinch. It was because of the name on his phone. Writer Lee Hanmi. His phone started shaking for some reason.
When he found out that the title of the script that Hanmi wrote overnight two days ago was ‘New Semester’, Daemyung blamed his idiocy. When a writer who had to have others confirm for her that she was famous, asked about New Semester several times, he should have deduced that it was her work. That morning, Hanmi suddenly told him to write his number on a memo with a refreshed face. Not daring to refuse, Daemyung hurriedly wrote down his number before heading to school in Gwak Joon’s car. That day, he was quite relieved since he didn’t get any calls but….
-Son, we should hold a celebratory party today.
She definitely said ‘son’ with a nonchalant speech tone.
-Haesoo-unni will pick you up so wait for her. Pilhyun-oppa and Joon will be coming as well. I feel very good thanks to you, son, so I’ll treat you to something nice.
“S-son, you said?”
-Anyway, come. Don’t ask questions.
The call suddenly ended.
Daemyung blinked several times and looked at the club members practicing in front of him. The juniors looked at him in confusion.
“What’s up with you, seonbae? You look really bad,” Aram asked.
Daemyung shook his head.
“I-it’s a prank call, it must be.”
“It must be a prank call.”
“What do you mean by that? You were dozing off yesterday too. Jiyoon, your hubby is not looking good today.”
Jiyoon worriedly approached him. Daemyung smiled and said that it was nothing. There was no way she actually called him for real, right? And son? She had to be teasing him. That’s right. Of course, she was just teasing him.
At that moment, he got a call from an unknown number. Daemyung picked up the call nervously.
-Is that you, Daemyung? It’s me. You remember my voice, right? No wait, that’s not the important thing. What time do you want me to go pick you up?
It seems that it wasn’t a joke after all.
* * *
“Okay. Maru, thanks for your work.”
“Thank you for your work. I’ll be going first.”
Maru said his goodbyes to the staff before leaving. Lee Chan didn’t have many appearances in the new version of the script, so his shoots were finished quite quickly. He was prepared to shoot throughout the night, so it felt like he had lucked out. Of course, the main actors, Dongho and Joomin had more to shoot. It was 11:14 right now, so fortunately, he could catch the train home.
“I guess I’ll be shooting late tomorrow as well?”
After the Saturday classes at school, he would have to come to the shooting location immediately and shoot until late into the night, or throughout the night, get some sleep, and then shoot again. Although they had about 5 episodes of leeway, this intensive work schedule was decided by producer Park Hoon who said that they can’t be too sure. He might have to come on weekdays as well.
Just as he was about to pick up his bag and leave through the school gates,
“Han Maru,” he heard a voice.
A person walked out from the dark shadows. Maru stroked his chest. He was a bit scared just now.
“I thought you were a ghost,” Maru said as he looked at Okseon standing there with an expressionless face.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Lol, Maru has a horrible misunderstanding of Hanmi, and I love it.
Well, the worst case scenario I ranted about yesterday has been avoided I guess.