Yellow Door: '90s Lo-fi Film Club (2023) Movie Script

That film...
Looking for Paradise.
It's a short, five-minute film
that was made by a student.
Back then, Director Bong
was not the Director Bong he is now.
When did you watch that film?
Well, in terms
of the life span of Yellow Door,
I'd say it was either the beginning
or the middle, not the latter years.
One day, Director Bong...
Back then, we just called him Joon Ho.
He said he got some money
after working as a tutor.
I think he had worked for a month or two.
Anyway, he bought a camera with that money
and made a film
using his living room as the backdrop.
It was about a caterpillar
looking for its paradise.
He made this tiny little caterpillar.
And since it was a stop-motion animation,
he had to move it one cut at a time.
At the end, the caterpillar fights
a stuffed monkey in the living room.
And eventually,
it continues its journey to paradise.
It was incredible. I was in shock.
I was so amazed by it back then.
He didn't seem like the Joon Ho I knew.
The film was about five minutes long.
It was 23 minutes.
And you got the protagonist
and the villain mixed up.
I got them mixed up?
VILLAIN - PROTAGONIS- Wasn't the caterpillar the protagonist?
- It was the gorilla.
PROTAGONISI thought it was the caterpillar.
Oh, it was the gorilla?
I see.
I found this wooden box
after a really long time.
About 20 years or so.
I used to store a lot of stuff in here.
And here's something I found.
Oh, 8 mm films?
These are the 8 mm films
from our Yellow Door workshop.
These are...
- Wow!
- I have all of them here.
- This many.
- Look at that!
I got all kinds of stuff here.
I don't quite remember what we did.
We filmed all kinds of nonsense.
I hope these will help us
through this Rashomon situation.
They are all here.
You still have the gorilla, right?
Yes, the gorilla.
I do have it, but...
Let's just say it's gone.
It's embarrassing, you know.
"I'm reminded of my hidden debut film,
which I've never mentioned anywhere else."
"Before I made my self-proclaimed
first short film, White Man,
I once made a short animated film
entitled Looking for Paradise."
I interviewed Director Bong Joon Ho
while writing The Debut.
He spoke as if he was a spy
sharing a secret.
He glanced left and right as he said,
"Actually, I once made this other film."
So I thought, "I should leave this out.
I guess I won't be able to use this."
But the story was so interesting.
"I invited 20 or so people
to the Yellow Door Christmas party
and had my very first movie premiere
with a completely flushed face."
"The only people on Earth
who have seen that movie
are the people who were there that day."
Jong-tae, can you hear me?
Hey. Hi!
Can you see me?
Yes, I can see you.
- You must be busy.
- Yes, I guess.
Your film will be released in a few days.
Yeah, I've been busier
because the production was small.
I had to make some things happen.
It looks like Se-bum dyed his hair.
- It's been so long, Se-bum.
- Hey, Ban.
Did you dye your hair? Your hair...
Well, I have to.
It's completely gray unless I dye it.
He looks like a minister today.
You know, like the Minister of Land,
Infrastructure, and Transport.
- Oh, Byung-hoon.
- It's working.
Is that Byung-hoon? Man.
Wow, Byung-hoon.
- Can you see us?
- Can't he see us?
- I don't think he can.
- He can.
- Hey.
- Can you hear us?
- I see you.
- Okay.
What time is it over there?
Is it after midnight?
It's almost eleven o'clock.
11:00 p.m.?
- Yes.
- Gosh.
Hey, your Korean has gotten
a bit awkward now.
Oh, come on.
Should we do this in English?
Byung-hoon, should we?
- Hi. Oh my!
- Min-hyang!
- Hi, there!
- Hey!
- Oh my. Who are they?
- When was this?
Oh my! Look at them.
- Why is it so...
- Out of focus.
I couldn't stand this kind of thing
back then.
I mean, we were in a film club.
But they're all out of focus.
This is hilarious.
Seriously, who took these?
Let's find the culprit.
It wasn't me. I'm in the photo.
I'm in it too.
Wait, I'm not in the photo!
Is that me?
Why did we keep taking photos of gum?
- It must've been a focus test.
- It was for a focus test.
We didn't know
the basic mechanism of cameras.
So, basic things like exposure, aperture...
Yes, right.
Shutter speed, focus, and other things.
It was a workshop for us
to become familiar with those things.
So these photos are far from art.
It's just a parade of dull photos.
Wasn't this Kim Hye-ja's house?
Yes, it was Ms. Kim's house.
When we looked out the window
of our office,
we would see Ms. Kim's garden, you know.
Yes, her front gate as well.
We used to take a lot of pictures
in front of that stone wall
because it was so pretty.
Wow, look at Dae-yup's sexy pose.
If I had known there was a club there,
I would've looked out a little more often.
All I ever thought at the time was,
"They can see my house from upstairs."
So you never know
what will happen in life, right?
The most heartwarming memory
I have of Joon Ho is this.
After the release of Memories of Murder,
you called me at night.
It must've been around 10:00 p.m.
- Yes.
- And you said...
"Jong-tae, do you know where I am?
I'm in front of Gyeongseo Building."
- That's what you said on the phone.
- Right.
I guess you were feeling good
about your film's success,
and so you were reminiscing
about the rough old days.
Gyeongseo Building. Yes.
This was probably a private house,
but now it's changed.
It's been 30 years.
This was our route
to the Yellow Door office.
To be honest,
it didn't feel like we were doing
anything particular at Yellow Door.
It felt like a picnic
where we could hang out.
But why were we in the Gyeongseo Building?
Did Jong-tae already have an office there?
Jong-tae was a graduate student
at Dongguk University at the time.
He took some time off
and rented the office
to start a modeling agency
with his friends.
After my first day of grad school,
I was really disappointed.
It was supposed to be grad school,
but they didn't teach us much.
I still remember this.
There was a 16 mm camera at the school.
It would've been good
if they'd taught us how to use it.
But they only showed it to us
and said, "This is a 16 mm camera."
- And that was it?
- That was it.
Around that time...
Uh... Dong-hoon.
That's when I met Lee Dong-hoon.
I was working part-time
at a bookshop called Today's Books
in front of Yonsei University.
Cell phones and pagers didn't exist.
So if you looked at the bulletin board
at Today's Books,
there were notes saying where people were
and telling others to come.
I asked to be introduced
to a film student,
and I was introduced to Choi Jong-tae,
a grad student who was taking time off
from his film studies.
I was asked to teach him about film.
So I just told them to send him over.
It's interesting how it turned out.
I mean, if it were now,
I wouldn't have even considered
teaching a stranger about film.
But back then, the universities
and the clubs had an innocence about them.
So it was a very natural thing.
If no one asked me
to teach them about film,
my life would've been very different.
It might've been different
in a good sense, or...
Actually, it might've been much better.
I wasn't looking to make
anything specific in particular.
But I went anyway and poked around.
Dong-hoon said there was a senior he knew
and asked if he could bring him,
so I said yes.
I thought I couldn't suffer alone,
so I dragged Director Bong into it.
I've loved movies ever since
my elementary and middle school days,
and I wanted to become a director.
I'm not sure why.
Maybe because all I ever did was watch TV.
My family never did anything.
We didn't travel. We didn't play sports.
The whole family just watched TV.
There are things that come as a shock
when you watch a film without any context.
In elementary school,
I watched The Wages of Fear.
And The Bicycle Thieves too.
I had once lost my bicycle as a kid,
so I was overly immersed as I watched it.
I watched it knowing nothing
about Vittorio De Sica or neorealism.
That's why I was simply shocked.
It was my chance, for the first time ever,
to properly discuss and study film
as much as I wanted
and watch them over and over.
I didn't major in film studies.
I had never worked on a film set before.
But for the first time,
I was able to do something with films.
I sat Bong Joon Ho and Lee Dong-hoon down
and started with Understanding Movies.
That was when books about film
first began to come out.
Now there's a whole section of them
in the bookstore.
But back then, just the idea
of books on film was so unfamiliar.
There was Understanding Movies
by Louis D. Giannetti...
Plus, A History of Film by Jack C. Ellis.
Only those two.
- That was it.
- And others were...
This was when we first began
to see convenience stores.
So back then, I...
Can you leave out what he said
about convenience stores?
That's so... It totally sounds like...
Were there really
no convenience stores then?
There weren't.
Right. We used to drink coffee
at places like Doutor.
Right. Doutor. It's not around anymore.
I had to teach them something,
but there was nothing I could do.
Back then, Joon Ho had been working
as a part-time manager at a study room.
He had a lot of free time.
So I told him
to transcribe A History of Film
instead of just sitting around.
But I never transcribed A History of Film.
Director Bong would've done it.
I'm sure he transcribed A History of Film.
I didn't do it,
but I think he definitely would have.
This is the Rashomon effect.
How could I have transcribed
that huge book?
I don't understand.
I don't understand it at all.
I may finally lose my faith
in the human soul.
Bong, don't you remember?
I read it thoroughly since you told me to,
but I never transcribed it.
I remember you showing me your notebook.
- Really?
- Yeah, that's how I remember it.
- One second.
- How else would I know?
This is the book.
- Right.
- A History of Film by Jack C. Ellis.
So you did do it.
I remember your notebook.
- I see.
- You probably quit after a few pages.
Like the to-infinitive section
of an English grammar book.
Yes, the to-infinitive section.
You never get past the first chapter.
That's why all Koreans
know about the to-infinitive.
That was the beginning.
Bong Joon Ho, Choi Jong-tae, and I
were there at the beginning, and then...
One day, I was lying around at home,
and suddenly, I was engulfed
by this passion to study film.
It came out of nowhere.
I couldn't sleep from that day on.
- Hoon-a was one of the early members.
- Right.
I had a friend, a psychology major
who loved music as much as I did.
My friend said there was a guy named
Bong Joon Ho in sociology who likes films,
so I should give him a call.
"Bong Joon Ho? What a unique name."
"I should memorize it as bonjour."
So that's what I did!
When I called him, he told me
to come to a place in Hongdae.
Jong-tae, you, me, and Hoon-a.
Do you remember the first seminar
the four of us had?
We said we'd each bring
a film of our choice.
Jong-tae picked Theo Angelopoulos's
Landscape in the Mist.
I picked Franois Truffaut's...
- That one.
- Truffaut played the role of a director.
- Day for Night.
- Day for Night!
- What was yours?
- I didn't really study back then.
- I don't remember!
- We watched four different films.
We watched the films we each picked,
and then we just talked about them.
Yes, we did.
One day, I was walking down Baekyang-ro.
I ran into a friend of mine
I often used to bump into.
She was walking down
the opposite side of the street.
We started talking about movies.
Back then, I was into movies.
I told her I'd been into movies lately,
and she said,
"Really? I'm in this film group,
and we're going to watch
a Turkish film called Yol.
Do you want to come?"
So I said, "Okay, sure."
That's how I came to Yellow Door.
That friend was Lim Hoon-a.
Now that she mentions it,
I'm starting to remember.
But actually,
I had known Min-hyang before then.
The College of Liberal Arts put on a play,
and a very cool student
played the role of Jesus
in a play called Jesus of Gold Crown.
I was deeply impressed by it,
and the student who played Jesus
was Min-hyang.
At the time,
our group didn't even have a structure.
But I remember that we all joined
just because we loved films
and wanted to study them.
When I think of Eun-sim,
I'm reminded of that day.
She turned up with a male bust
that art students use to sketch.
She said, "Let's start sketching now."
She suddenly wanted us to draw!
It was so random.
I thought, "Why did she bring
that plaster bust here?"
But then, some of us started sketching.
So there were
a lot of quirky people in the club.
It was a tiny little space,
and we had a round table there
that could fit about seven people.
And we would just chat away.
We'd watch a film
and chat about whatever we knew,
share things we heard somewhere
and our thoughts too.
That was the level we were at.
Jong-tae was our leader,
and he had no plans at all.
And we loved
that we had no plans or structure.
A band of social misfits, so to speak.
Yes, I give you
Choi Jong-tae and Five Kids.
A group of fluid people
who got together to share dreams.
I'm not sure why, but people studied film
like crazy in the early '90s.
This is what I felt.
Social movements were active back then,
yet we felt like we hit a wall.
What with perestroika and glasnost,
and the Soviet Union coming down and all.
- That's such a...
- Too much?
- That's such a macroscopic analysis.
- But then...
There were lots of clubs
that got together and studied film.
I'm not exactly sure why.
Well, in my case,
I jumped in and studied film
to find myself.
- To find yourself?
- Yes.
I kind of wanted to find
something that I liked.
Back then, we were all about
bringing down the dictatorship
and repealing the Constitution.
I think everyone felt despondent
after the party was over.
Of course, it's not like
I did anything notable.
So we didn't know where to go.
We didn't know what to do
with all our energy.
The student movements were already over.
So we came together
like a cluster of dust.
To put it nicely,
we came together like a ripening grape.
I think that's what happened.
I used to be asked this
at foreign film festivals
during the early to mid-2000s.
How did Korean films suddenly...
Get their break?
We had films bursting out in the 2000s,
drawing attention at film festivals.
"Where had these directors been
until then?"
"What on earth had happened?"
Then I'd bring up Yellow Door.
For example, I'd say,
"We were the first cinephile generation."
"My generation was probably the first
to actually study film."
We were the first.
"I think we were the first generation
to become filmmakers as cinephiles."
I guess it makes it easier
to write articles.
So that's why I told them
that we have this generation and so on.
The Night Before Strike,
a low-budget 16 mm film
that the government banned from screening...
Jangsangot Hawks
were superstars back then.
There were many fans who waited
for their films every year.
Youth was another solid team.
After Cinematheque 1895
changed its name to SA/s,
it became renowned
as a private cinematheque
with the longest history.
It was as if the cinephiles
who had been hiding
were suddenly pouring out
onto the streets.
I think that was the crazy situation
in the '90s.
This is what I think.
The government must've drugged
the water supply back then.
I think it was a nationwide project
to turn all citizens into cinephiles.
Compared to these groups,
Yellow Door was a mysterious, peculiar...
- Jangsangot Hawks was the Premier League.
- Yes.
Jung Ji-woo's Youth was the Bundesliga.
We were like...
- An amateur club.
- An amateur club compared to them.
I had to pay my tuition
for the fourth semester,
and it felt like such a waste!
I realized I could buy
a lot of materials for the club
with that money.
I decided to get myself
in serious trouble, and so...
I founded a film institute.
Of course, my family had no idea.
Yellow Door was on the second floor
of a building in Seogyo-dong at the time.
And it was...
a rectangular building, like this.
There was a corridor in the middle.
And the door to the Yellow Door Institute
stood right here.
When you opened the door,
you'd see a round table on the left.
Usually, Joon Ho would be studying there.
In the front, there was a tiny television.
I think we often watched
music videos and stuff.
We painted all the furniture yellow.
Didn't Dae-yup paint with us?
From what I recall,
you and Jong-tae bought the paint.
They weren't yellow at first,
but you said, "We're going all yellow."
Then you painted everything, right?
At the time,
I just liked yellow for some reason.
Bright yellow, to be specific.
The color yellow
was just so beautiful to me.
From what I remember,
we just had some yellow paint.
I did some construction work elsewhere
and had some paint left,
which just happened to be yellow.
I didn't see the need to buy more,
so we just ended up using it.
It didn't mean anything, actually.
At first, it wasn't called Yellow Door.
- It was Film Institute something, and...
- Film Institute...
Then we studied semiotics
and eventually ended up with Yellow Door.
That's right.
We would discuss things
like signifiant and signifi.
Oh wow! This is embarrassing.
We'd tack those words on.
- We made it sound fancy like that.
- Yes.
We only had scraped the surface
but dared to talk about it.
"The signified and signifier don't match."
"See, there's an actual yellow door."
We'd be like this.
That must be why the critique department
was called "S-S."
- Signifiant, signifi.
- Yes, I think so.
- The same goes for SA/s.
- Yes, right.
Signifiant, signifi.
- A famous cinematheque in Daehak-ro.
- Yes.
- That's what the name means.
- Yes.
We brought up signifiant and signifi
in everything, didn't we?
Yes, you're right.
I mean, the words signifiant and signifi
were very unfamiliar to us.
I guess we were proud of ourselves
for learning that concept.
Why were we so obsessed
with semiotics back then?
Semiology, postmodernism...
- And post-structuralism.
- Right.
Back then, Roland Barthes
and such concepts were a fad.
We barely understood them,
but still sat ourselves down
and had seminars about them.
I'm not sure if they still do this,
but in front of our schools, there were...
- Copy places.
- Popular copy places.
When you go there,
they would have copies
of renowned original books on display.
There were anthologies too.
And Jong-tae would go,
"We have to read this and this."
No. I didn't pick them out myself.
I just got everything.
I didn't know what they were about!
I just bought them in bulk.
We picked out a few of them
and did stuff like...
We studied Dudley Andrew's book together.
Dudley Andrew!
- Dudley Andrew.
- The man who gave us a tough time.
Translating his book was a real pain.
Min-hyang was good at English.
You majored in English Literature.
But it was still gibberish to me.
The other members' English was so-so.
Se-bum, when you were with us,
what year were you in your Ph.D. program?
I was with you
right before I began my program.
- It was right before?
- Yes.
- But we all called you "Doctor." Dr. Ban.
- Yes, Dr. Ban.
You knew I'd become one
before I even started.
We gave you a weird nickname.
- An exegetic.
- An exegetic scholar.
- An exegetic!
- We would...
I remember. When we had seminars,
we'd divide pages and translate them.
If there were any errors,
you would point them all out.
I'd point out each word and its meaning,
discussing how to translate them.
That earned me that nickname.
Theoretical seminars seem great
when you do it,
but you never remember anything
once you're done.
Were you working for Director Kim Sung-su
and his directing team at that time?
Yes, of course.
I worked on many short films.
Most of the 16 mm short films back then.
Dae-yup, you know Beat, right?
Jung Woo-sung's Beat.
- Yeah.
- Yes, I know it too.
Seok-woo was the assistant director
for that film.
Oh, I see.
Back then, Director Kim Sung-su's team
was highly renowned.
They worked people hard over there.
The people who survived through that
were pretty much...
Then, out of the people we know,
Seok-woo was the first to work on sets.
So, in your shoes,
it must've been interesting...
Well, it'd be mean to say "funny."
After working on actual sets,
you would come to Yellow Door
and find us excited about studying books
in their original language.
To put it nicely, we were academic.
But to be frank,
didn't it seem funny to you?
How did you feel about us
holding weird seminars,
underlining and studying English books
with Se-bum?
Well, at the time,
it felt a bit amateurish.
- Right?
- Yeah.
I was too stuck-up back then.
As I keep saying, sorry I was like that.
No, that's not what I meant.
I was dying to make a short film,
but I didn't know anything
and I had no experience.
So I thought,
"If I rely on Seok-woo and sponge off him,
I might be able to start something."
Yoon-a, were you already
in grad school at the time?
I was in my second semester
of grad school.
Weren't you getting ready to study abroad?
I was married by then, good sir.
Oh, really?
Actually, I had just gotten married,
so I couldn't participate much.
Well, I was a diligent member,
but I couldn't do more.
My life was too hectic.
So you were like Dae-yup.
You were part of the grown-up group.
If we had to divide the club into two,
we had the grown-ups and the kids.
So when we talked,
I had to be formal with her.
It didn't matter if we were close or not.
She was a married woman,
so I had to be respectful.
What's with that?
- What is that?
- Go ahead.
I have a question.
Am I the only one who remembers this?
We often ordered in for our meals.
Yes, we first used the name "Yellow Door"
when we ordered Chinese food.
We'd order food during construction
and say,
"Yes, come to the unit
with the yellow door on the second floor."
- That's how we got the name.
- Oh, that's why.
Yes, if someone wanted to visit us,
we'd tell them,
"You'll see a yellow door.
Come in that way."
Then one day, Jong-tae said,
"Let's just call ourselves Yellow Door."
And we added meaning to it.
People would reference films,
but we had never seen the films
that were being referenced,
so we had no idea
what they were talking about.
For example, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,
a German expressionist film.
In the film history book,
there would be one still image.
But we couldn't watch it, so we'd just
imagine the film while studying it.
To show The Arrival of a Train
to the students,
we had to make copies on videotape.
There was no YouTube.
But now, we have everything.
Then what? We had to watch films.
And obtaining those films
was the greatest mission
of a film institute.
Whenever we heard
someone had a copy of a film,
we'd borrow it and make a copy of it.
That was our main task,
and Director Bong was in charge of that.
Back in our day, there weren't many places
we could rent movies.
You know, these so-called art films.
But Director Bong had a knack
for finding them.
Since things weren't digital back then,
when we made copies,
we had to watch the film
until the copy was finished.
We had no other choice.
If we made two copies,
we had to watch it twice.
We'd make three to four copies of a movie.
Since we made multiple copies
of the original video,
we would see interference
on all the copies.
If we copied a video from the US,
it would start with an FBI warning.
Korean videos would mention
tigers and smallpox
to discourage us
from making illegal copies.
A single video
may change a person's future.
But making illegal copies
was the only way we could watch them.
We'd write the title on the tape.
We'd write the title on a sticker
and stick it on the tape.
But it didn't seem cool
to see it handwritten.
So I'd write the title
of Godard's films in French.
I could've written down the Korean title.
The localized Korean title
would've been just fine.
But I wrote it in French.
I knew the spelling.
I still don't know how to pronounce it.
Those who speak French would know.
I'd print the titles on an A4 sheet.
Then I'd hold it up to a light
and put the videotape stickers on top,
print the titles once again,
and they would be in the right spots.
Then I'd stick those on.
I put those little skills to use.
You'll find handwritten titles
on some of the tapes,
but after a certain point in time,
they'll be neatly printed on the stickers.
Making copies of films
and building our archive, tape by tape.
We became very enthusiastic about it.
Obsession is what gets enthusiasts going.
The actions of an enthusiast
seem very weird to a non-enthusiast.
But for the enthusiast,
their motivation comes quite naturally.
I think our hunger
for film-related materials
is what led to our obsession.
We'd only need a spreadsheet nowadays.
But we had to do everything by hand.
I think...
Yes, I think I learned how to use
a mouse from Joon Ho.
"This is called a mouse
because it looks like one."
That's how he taught me.
- Since 1992.
- Yes, since 1992.
"Video Library List."
"Managed by Bong."
- Nice handwriting.
- What are the starred ones?
- Perhaps...
- Ones we shouldn't lose?
Maybe. Or else...
Battleship Potemkin.
Before the Revolution by Bertolucci.
Maybe the starred ones are the ones...
- Ones we couldn't check out?
- Right, something like that.
The Conversation by Coppola.
We watched it together.
Yes, we did.
We bought some tapes too.
- We went to Hwanghak-dong.
- Yes.
- There were wholesale stores.
- Wholesale stores.
Street vendors were selling cheap videos.
- Those tapes were 2,500 won each.
- Oh, were they?
- It was like a treasure hunt.
- Yes.
Among these weird, lousy films,
we'd find films by Kim Ki-young.
- Right. Yes.
- Or Duan Makavejev.
- Or something by Abel Ferrara.
- Andrzej Wajda.
King of New York. Andrzej Wajda.
They were hidden here and there,
but the titles were oddly translated.
- Exactly.
- So we needed to know how to find them.
The person who often gave us
a list of new films,
information, and tips
was Director Kim Hong-joon.
- Oh, I see.
- One of the first-generation cinephiles.
He's now the director
of the Korean Film Archive.
He published a book too.
It had a long title. What was it?
Two or Three Things I Know About Film.
- It sold pretty well in the early '90s.
- It did.
- Many people like us bought that book.
- Yes.
If it was the '60s or '70s,
when it was impossible to watch
any films mentioned in the book,
the book would've been useless.
If it was easy to watch films like now,
all of the information in that book
wouldn't have been as useful.
Only a limited number of films
were shown in theaters back then,
but the videotapes were all around us.
So many films became available.
The influx made it almost impossible
to tell the good ones from the bad.
"You may not be aware,
but this renowned director's work
was published under this title."
"And the title is quite absurd."
For example, "Something of Love."
But the actual title...
So if we studied the book first...
- You'd know the basics.
- We could find the film in Hwanghak-dong.
I believe Director Kim Hong-joon
used a pseudonym.
- He didn't use his real name.
- No.
- Right.
- It was Gu...
- Gu Hoe-yeong.
- Gu Hoe-yeong!
It means "a cinephile
who looks back on the '90s."
It was my first time writing an article
about film for the mass media.
I got a little scared
and didn't want to use my real name,
so I made up a pseudonym.
That was Gu Hoe-yeong.
Later, people said it meant
"a cinephile who looks back on the '90s,"
and I thought it sounded cool,
but that's not true.
I was just wondering
what name I should use
and found a newspaper next to me.
The Hankyoreh, I think.
In the obituaries,
I saw the name Gu Yeong-hoe,
so I just changed it to Gu Hoe-yeong
for no reason.
Back then, the cultural status of film
in our society was very poor.
It was a time
when having a job in the film industry
was considered a disgrace to one's family.
How do we still have this?
Count how many films we used to have.
You're good at counting.
Yes, I just eyeballed it.
About 300, 400 films?
- About 427 films?
- Not as many as I thought.
- How many lines are on a page?
- About 30 lines per page.
- There are 26 letters in the alphabet.
- I have to count them.
- Four, five.
- Let's say 20.
Nine, ten.
Eleven and a half.
- I think...
- About 17 pages. 17 times 3.
- That would be 510.
- 510.
- We had about 500 tapes.
- Yes.
Only those on record.
But we stopped recording after a while.
When I first went to Yellow Door,
you were drawing a table
on a huge piece of paper.
- A table?
- Yes.
You often wrote stuff on big sheets.
Was it a list of late fees?
I have a tendency to be obsessive,
so I was the perfect man for the job.
How should I put it?
I was like the class monitor.
On duty for the whole year.
Yes, sort of.
A student who keeps track
of those who chatted during class.
Those who didn't return the videotapes.
"If you don't manage the tapes well,
you might lose in less than a month
what took a year to collect."
Someone told me that,
so I began to chase people around.
I asked, with a scary face,
"Why won't you return
the Godard film you borrowed?"
That's what I did!
"Return the video.
I know you took it two weeks ago."
You really are despicable.
I was serious
about protecting the collection.
What do you mean by "despicable"?
What's that?
Wow. My gosh.
This was when we watched films
and analyzed them.
"Detailed scene analysis."
"Apply the analysis framework
by genre, scriptwriter, and movement."
As if we could actually do these things!
We didn't know much,
but we wrote it down anyway.
It says, "Analyze a film by scene."
It says, "Analyze a film by scene."
Jog Shuttle VTR.
Safe! Out!
- Safe!
- It's out!
Let's check with the Jog Shuttle.
The Jog Shuttle catches every action.
- The jog dial was released.
- Right.
we can use iPhone apps
or other mobile apps to edit videos
and even add visual effects,
so this may sound too primitive.
But when the jog dial was released,
we were thrilled.
Right, yes.
We could fast-forward and rewind movies
and analyze scenes frame by frame.
We could check how it was edited
and how the double actions were done.
The cinephiles just before our generation,
such as Mr. Jung Sung-il,
Director Kim Hong-joon,
they had to go to Goethe-Institut
or Institut Franais to watch films.
- And they couldn't rewind them.
- Right.
But we got to analyze films
using jog dials for the first time.
I remember this.
We decided to hold
the first text analysis seminar.
Wait, did I analyze Raging Bull?
And Citizen Kane?
I did watch all of these films.
City Lights, The Sacrifice.
I probably did analyze them.
Do you have the materials?
- Yes, we have them.
- Really?
That's how we came to publish this.
I didn't do it by myself.
All the departments wrote the analyses
and put them together.
It wasn't much, but we did it.
I think the first issue
was the most important one,
but we couldn't keep this going.
Man, this is...
I went through so much
trying to find this.
- Where did you get this?
- From Yoon-a.
- Oh, so Yoon-a had it.
- Yes.
There's an analysis
of Coppola's The Godfather in here.
I drew these.
"The Godfather is a rigid, textbook film
in terms of formatting."
I wrote all kinds of nonsense
as if I knew stuff.
This was from our seminar, right?
I see I worked very hard on this one.
The suspense.
This is what you just mentioned,
Director Lee.
The control of information.
The information in this view
is only available to the audience.
- That's how suspense is created.
- Suspense is created.
I should have shown this
to Coppola when I met him,
but I only told him about it.
There's a film festival held in Lyon.
Every year, the main event of the festival
is to invite big industry names
and pay tribute to them.
That year, Coppola was the main guest.
They were going to present him
with an achievement award,
and I was told to be the presenter.
So I went upstage and said this...
"Back when I was a university student,
I also studied your films."
"I analyzed this scene
from The Godfather."
I said something like that.
"Why was the camera there?
Why did the shot change there?"
Why did this scene
have to follow this one?
Why does the actor look that way
at this moment?
I asked myself these questions
and drew the scenes from The Godfather
one by one.
My heart still pounds at this moment.
It hit me differently when I got to meet
him in person up on the same stage,
sharing that story with him.
It felt marvelous and surreal.
Since then, even to this day,
I watch films in units of cuts and shots.
In those shots,
I look for the light sources,
the mise-en-scne,
and all the details as I watch the film.
I loved what we did at first,
but later on, it wasn't so great.
I began to wonder,
"Do I have to study languages
and analyze each scene?"
"No way. This is so boring."
That's what happened to me.
I realized it didn't sit well with me
to analyze every single piece of a film.
That's the power of a film.
It captures you without you knowing it.
I enjoyed watching films together
since it was nice to know
that I had friends
who also wanted to watch these films.
Yellow Door was a place
where we gathered and talked
and learned things we didn't know before.
This just occurred to me.
In this movie, the actor lights a candle
and then covers it as he walks,
trying to make sure it doesn't go out.
It was a film by Tarkovsky
which I would find boring now.
I have no idea why I was so hooked on it.
As I watched it,
I realized that film was art,
that I could dedicate my life to it.
I think that scene went on
for over five minutes.
"What the heck?
Is this what they call a film?"
Back then, that's what I thought.
Joon Ho really loved Martin Scorsese.
Its original title was Raging Bull.
But weirdly, the video company released it
as The Fist of Fury.
had so many problems.
But despite that,
the boxing sequence and everything
was just overwhelming,
so I remember us going crazy
as we watched it.
Director Lee, you also talked a lot
about the editing and camerawork.
I was in my early days of studying film.
I used to think that complicated cuts
and camerawork made good scenes.
But as you know,
that scene is extremely simple.
It's simple, chilling, and funny,
and you feel very sad once the scene ends.
You see Joe Pesci's face,
and then a few more shots.
Then the camera pans just once.
When De Niro walks up the stairs,
it's very scary.
After he walks up,
we see this crazy, wild violence.
- It's terrifying.
- I remember something else you said.
- That scene begins with a broken TV.
- Yes.
De Niro is fixing the TV.
You said the broken TV
sets the overall tone of the scene,
and I remember realizing that then.
- We said stuff like that?
- No, well...
You did!
I don't remember a thing,
not even what happened yesterday.
There was an animated film entitled
The Man Who Planted Trees.
I guess I seemed miserable back then.
Hoon-a said to me,
"Jong-tae, when life is hard
and you feel overwhelmed,
you should watch films like this.
It will help you."
It was so nice.
I guess I was rather impudent
with my words.
I thought Jong-tae was the one
who told me to watch it.
I thought, "He introduced me
to such a great film."
It really is a wonderful film.
I watched it many more times after that.
It's the best film for me.
Oh, I'm not crying.
My eyes are teary because they're old!
The two of you have different memories.
Yes, this is just like Rashomon.
- I see the yellow door.
- That's the door.
Yes, you're right.
- Someone's directing.
- We're doing something.
She's repeating her stiff performance.
These are the 8 mm films.
These were at home for the last 30 years
in the wooden box.
You can see everything.
Cameras were not easy to come by.
Especially video cameras.
The films were too expensive.
- Right.
- Our hands would shake as we filmed.
It was frightening to use up
24 frames in a mere second.
It was probably around 1992.
I had to save up the money.
He saved up the money
from working at the study room.
I think he was paid
300,000 won a month.
He asked me if he could get
a decent camera with that money.
You could find all kinds of electronics
in Sewoon Plaza and Cheonggyecheon.
It was an expensive camera at the time.
Hitachi 8200 Super VHS.
I bought it
and took it to Yellow Door the next day.
I held it in my arms like this
during the seminar.
It was huge too.
I'd flip the pages with the camera
in my arms, patting it.
Nervous, should I say?
It was our first piece of equipment,
so we were pleasantly nervous about it.
I did all my part-time jobs with the 8200,
such as filming wedding videos.
I'd get all kinds of filming gigs
at all sorts of family events
from birthday parties to weddings.
- Everyone's here.
- This one.
We look great in this photo. It's nice.
Byung-hoon and Seok-woo
are right next to each other.
There's a rumor that Byung-hoon
left the industry because of me.
Seok-woo feels bad for you, Byung-hoon.
Why? What for?
Because he yelled at you so much
while shooting short films.
Joon Ho is hiding back there.
- Yes.
- What is he up to?
I have no idea when this was taken.
I'm not really sure either.
How did we end up taking this photo?
A spur-of-the-moment thing, maybe?
But we're all too dressed up.
Gosh, Hoon-a!
- Yes, it's the same day.
- Right.
Am I bowing to someone here?
- I think it's a rite.
- Yeah.
I see the head
of the Hitachi 8200 over there.
- It's our opening ceremony!
- It is!
- It says so right there.
- That's it.
- I think so.
- I remember that pig's head!
We couldn't afford an actual pig's head,
so I drew that on paper.
- That's my drawing.
- Yes, Joon Ho drew that.
I wrote the order of events
on that huge sheet of paper.
- Really?
- So that was your handwriting.
- The handwriting here?
- Yes.
That's not my handwriting.
I can see Gorilla written on it.
- Two. Yes, Gorilla 2.
- Yes.
Gorilla 2.
- That was Gorilla 2?
- Yes.
- Is that Looking for Paradise?
- Yes, Looking for Paradise.
Gorilla 2, as if it was an actual series.
How embarrassing.
Director Choi Jong-tae formed this club
with a few younger people
who were passionate about film.
They said they were having
an end-of-year screening.
Choi Jong-tae, Woo Hyun, and Ahn Nae-sang.
Hyun and Nae-sang
are very busy actors now.
The three of them were a trio.
So Hyun and Nae-sang
often came to Yellow Door.
We had lots of drinks too.
A screening?
I thought it would be grandiose and fancy.
But it was held in a tiny room,
a tiny office.
I remember attending the event.
It was kind of boring. Rather tedious.
I thought, "Yeah, I didn't expect much."
So I wasn't really interested, and then...
As soon as Joon Ho's film started playing,
I thought,
"What is this?"
And I was completely sucked in.
I really want to watch it again.
I mean it.
What did you do for the animated film?
Do you mean Gorilla?
- Were you controlling the stuffed toys?
- We took turns.
Or were you handling the camera?
No, whoever got tired
was in charge of the camera.
- Whoever had more energy moved the toys.
- That's you, right?
Then we had to go up the ladders
and hang it up high too.
- Yes, you did the dangerous stuff.
- I did those.
- Hang it off the pipes.
- Yes.
I thought it'd be really fun.
- At first?
- Yes, at first.
For about two days,
we shot in the basement
of Daerim Apartment,
the place with the pipes
in Barking Dogs Never Bite.
There, we moved the stuffed gorilla
little by little to shoot the film.
It was really tough.
The Hitachi 8200 offered many features.
I used it to shoot and edit the film.
not in Korean, but in English.
I had no choice but to make it silent
The main character, Gorilla,
goes up on a stone and poops.
- Yes, we had a stone.
- Right?
It poops on top of the stone.
That voice was Director Bong's.
The grunting as it poops.
The poop turns into a poop worm
and attacks the gorilla.
And then...
It's embarrassing just to hear this.
In a way, it was also a monster flick.
A mysterious creature appears in it.
We made those monster worms
with white clay.
I thought it would be too gross
to use brown clay.
Too disgusting.
The monsters attack the gorilla,
and they start a fight.
The story was about the gorilla
trying to get to a place without monsters.
A gorilla that lives
in a dark, dirty basement
escapes to find its paradise.
Hence the childish title,
Looking for Paradise.
There was a lush tree
in the middle of a field.
The gorilla starts dreaming
of picking fresh bananas off the tree
and eating them.
A gorilla is supposed to climb trees,
but this one climbs up the gray pipes
on the ceiling of the basement instead,
dreaming of its escape.
When the gorilla began to move
and make an effort to achieve its goal,
I thought, "How strange.
This is a simple plot, a simple story."
"But when it's combined
with cinematic imagination,
one can create something amazing."
Maybe it was because
I wasn't a part of the production.
I didn't understand how hard it was
to make a film like that.
I couldn't just say,
"I don't think it's that great."
All the members who studied film
gave him good reviews,
so I couldn't say otherwise.
So I just said, "Oh, nicely done."
That was about the only critique
I could give regarding that film.
Having said that,
I was stuck-up back then,
I didn't think much of the film.
It's called stop-motion animation, right?
It's also called "release shooting."
I think I simply thought,
"Well, if the camera has the function,
anyone can shoot it."
I was so embarrassed
when I played it at the year-end party.
I remember my face going red.
I think it was the first time
I created something with a narrative.
And there were
about 15 to 20 people there too.
So they were like an audience.
It was just another year-end party,
so everyone was like,
"Let's watch it already.
Get it over with and start drinking."
But I was very nervous.
I remember turning completely red
up to my ears.
That's when I decided to give up
on animated films
and turn to live-action.
I had to move the toys
a tiny bit at a time,
so later on, I began to have
this animosity toward the main character.
I kept thinking,
"Can you please move an inch by yourself?"
Naturally, I turned to live-action
where the actors move on their own.
- Yes.
- That's why.
But if you think back on it now,
don't you think we were kind of insane?
The fact that we stayed up
all night shooting it.
We set up at around eight o'clock.
Was the weather cold or hot?
I don't remember that.
I was so focused, I forgot about it.
- No, I think it was cold.
- It was chilly.
I think we had coats on.
- At that time, your mother...
- Yes, my mom came downstairs.
She came downstairs late at night
and looked at us with pity in her eyes.
- She asked if we were done yet.
- She did.
At that time,
I was already discharged from the army.
Yes, right.
Her grown-up son was in the basement
with a stuffed gorilla
in the middle of the night.
- Right.
- It must've upset her so much.
She must've been really frustrated.
I believe the essential components
of Director Bong's current films
were already established in Gorilla.
Most of his films have scenes
shot in the basement.
Oh, you can go down to the basement
and do your business.
The restroom in the maintenance office
is too far from here.
This is the story
from when this apartment was built.
Back in 1988,
when apartment construction was booming...
Since you got discharged from the army
and came to the factory in this town,
there have been a series of incidents.
I don't think this is forgery or crime.
I'm going to this university next year.
Oh, you had everything planned out!
- "He's going to make it."
- Yes.
That I knew,
but not that he'd make it this big.
You know, Hyun is...
He's very quick with numbers.
He never wastes money on anything.
This guy funded
Director Bong's first short film,
White Man.
I thought you gave him
about three million won.
- No.
- How much did you give him?
- No, I barely remember.
- Is that so?
A portion.
That's how I remember it,
but he recorded the actual amount.
- 500,000 won. Yeah.
- Is he sure?
You told me it was three million won.
- I did?
- You lied to me.
Hyun was there at the year-end party,
and he watched my animated film.
Thanks to that,
when I was shooting White Man,
he made a partial investment, so to speak.
He gave me some money
when I shot the short film.
Woo Hyun-hui?
Apparently, Joon Ho didn't know my name.
Does he still think...
No, he must know your name now.
This might sound kind of awkward,
but this is the first time
I've ever helped someone
and regretted it.
I didn't regret it back then.
But after a few years...
he made Memories of Murder.
When I walked out after watching the film,
my heart felt heavy and stunned.
I was engulfed in deep emotions.
I said to myself,
"I should've paid for all of it."
"The entire production."
"Why was I so stingy
and only paid for some of it?"
That's what I actually thought.
At the very end of the film,
there was a single tree.
The film was entitled
Looking for Paradise.
Now that I think about it,
I guess everyone wanted to find something.
I'm having such thoughts.
At the end, the gorilla reaches the tree
and stands in front of it.
We're looking at the gorilla from behind,
but as the camera slowly zooms out...
it turns out that the banana tree
is actually inside a television.
I think I teared up at the end.
It was put together so well
that you can relate to the gorilla.
Back then, I was still
hanging around the school.
I was unemployed, not making any money.
I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do
or what I was supposed to do,
but I was certain
about what I didn't want to do.
So, in a way,
I was like the gorilla.
Yes, I was.
When you consider video culture,
the new theater opening tomorrow
will bring a wonderful revolution.
I actually paid a visit first.
Everything explodes around 1995,
in the 100th year of cinema.
The very first art film theater in Korea
will open tomorrow.
After Russia, Tarkovsky's Nostalghia
probably performed best in Korea.
And about 60,000 people
watched The Sacrifice.
Everyone would go
and watch films like that, and...
then they would get a headache.
Countless magazines like Cine 21 and Kino
were publishing their first issues.
They all read Mr. Jung Sung-il's articles
in magazines. It was all the rage.
Statistics showed that what Jurassic Park,
an American film, earned a few years ago
was more than the total annual exports
of all Korean automobiles.
I think,
as we went through the mid to late '90s,
the film industry started to take shape.
Some people suddenly became famous.
Some suddenly became
the chief editor of a magazine.
Conglomerates have joined
the film industry...
I think we were also motivated
as we watched everything unfold.
Back in the '70s and '80s,
young people from my generation
who loved movies used to get together
and complain about the industry.
"Why doesn't Korea have a film festival?"
"Why doesn't Korea have a film school?"
"Why doesn't Korea financially support
short film productions?"
"I'm sure there's a paradise for film
somewhere outside this country."
"I hope to go there someday."
The first-ever
international film festival in Korea,
the Pusan International Film Festival,
kicked off splendidly tonight
for its nine-day run.
One day...
I was busy writing my thesis
for grad school at the time.
I wrote my thesis about film.
And I bumped into Joon Ho
at Gangnam Station one day.
I asked him what he was doing there.
It felt really odd to see him there
since we always met in Hongdae.
He told me that he was trying
to get into a film academy.
He had to take an English test to get in,
so he was on his way
to an English academy.
That's what he was doing at the time,
studying English.
So I was surprised at that time.
I was young too, so I thought,
"Joon Ho really takes film seriously."
To me, it was an escape from reality,
but to him, it was a career path.
I only realized this
after looking back at that time.
Watching films and talking about them
at the Yellow Door Film Institute,
I just thought that was enough.
I didn't know what the members wanted.
The biggest thing that I missed
was that they wanted to make films.
They wanted to shoot films.
I guess the members
had different expectations for the club.
There were discrepancies
in the curriculum and the direction
that the members wanted to take.
Because of these discrepancies,
there came a moment
when we felt uncomfortable
with one another.
Whatever it may be,
it's heartbreaking to watch something
that has passed its prime.
Although Yellow Door
wasn't something alive,
it had its decline
like every living thing.
And I watched that process.
Everyone had different preferences
and tastes.
We may have been one group,
but I think it's also true
that we each had different dreams.
There was definitely something
that couldn't bring us together.
And so, we decided to dissolve the club.
But after that,
I felt a little empty.
We dreamed together so passionately
and achieved many other things too.
That's what we were,
but it only took a moment
for us to fall apart.
And when it fell apart,
it instantly disappeared,
like the tide going out.
And then there was the trip.
We decided to go on a trip.
So we went somewhere
in Gangwon-do by the East Sea.
Those who wished to join
got together at Cheongnyangni Station.
It was a fabulous trip.
I still remember it like it was yesterday.
Just as we were passing Jeongdongjin
and the sun was about to rise,
the train began playing
"Moonlight Sonata."
It was wonderful.
The announcement was telling us
the last stop was near.
As "Moonlight Sonata" kept playing,
the train slid alongside the beach.
I think our time with Yellow Door
was like an act of a play.
So in whatever way,
the act needed to come to an end
so that the play could go on
to the second, third, and fourth acts.
As we went on with our lives
for the next 30 years,
we continued to move on to the next acts.
We learned from what we lacked
in the first act
and utilized what we learned
in different ways.
That's how I think
we were able to move forward.
The same applied to my life too.
Do you know that feeling?
Let's say you had a person dear to you.
Everything was great.
You walked holding their hand,
but it couldn't last forever.
You have to let go at some point,
but when you do, it's very awkward.
I think that's how I felt.
Me, personally,
I think it was for the best
that we split up.
I mean, it was born out of
our pure passion for film.
If we stayed together
for a financial purpose or a clear goal,
we would've restructured the club
to pursue something new.
I stopped watching movies soon after that.
The films I watched at Yellow Door
felt completely different
from the films I watched outside.
I even asked myself
if I really used to like those films.
Strangely, the films I watched
at Yellow Door
felt like they meant more
than what they seemed on the surface.
Once I returned to reality and bought
tickets to watch films in the theater,
I no longer felt that way about them.
At the time,
I was really saddened by its end.
And for a long time after that,
I couldn't stop missing the old days.
But now, I think it's become
an old but good memory of mine.
As I entered middle age,
I became very disheartened by it.
By how it all became nothing but a memory.
Film has been my path for a long time.
For a long time ever since,
even until now.
I still think the search
for one's path is meaningful,
even if it leads to a banana
inside the TV.
I mean, that might be
a process of self-realization.
Those who haven't begun their journey
would be in the basement,
believing that there are bananas up there.
In a way, there are moments
when I think I can see the tree
that was on the screen.
I'm not sure how much time I have left,
but I have a feeling that I can get close
to the tree and finally touch it.
I think I can do that now.
It's embarrassing to say this,
but when I began to paint,
I found myself painting something close
to the last scene of Looking for Paradise
without even realizing it.
It was an image of a young girl
looking for something.
I wasn't thinking about Yellow Door
when I painted it.
But when I think about it today,
I must have painted my desire
to look for something new.
The fact that we made a lot of memories
together 30 years ago,
and that for a brief moment,
we had fun just hanging out
with no worries about the future.
It feels like a piece of a puzzle.
Everything I shared until now
are stories from about 30 years ago.
But to think that 30 years have passed,
I just can't believe it.
We lit up like a flame in 1992 and 1993.
I'm sure we all have
different memories from that time.
Some were there only briefly.
Some stayed for a long time.
And there's Jong-tae,
who was in the eye of the storm.
I'm sure the memory
is different for all of us.
When I look back on it,
I don't think
I have ever been as passionate
about film as I was then.
They are the times
that made me who I am today,
and the times I want to remember.
And even after leaving the club,
it showed me the path
for me to follow afterward.
It was my beginning.
Yellow Door.
Do you think we'd do a good job
if we did it again now?
"About the Yellow Door Film Institute."
"The Yellow Door Film Institute is a group
of people who assembled to study film."
"We don't think studying film
is something one can do on one's own."
"As we shared information and materials,
the group gradually got bigger."
"Now there are more than 30 of us."
"Although we still have a long way to go,
we have named ourselves a film institute."
"According to the cinematic path
of our choice,
we are divided into departments for
critique, directing, and screenwriting."
"These departments each conduct
their own various activities."
"The members of the film institute
include a variety of people,
from those who were just introduced
to film studies, to graduate students,
as well as other graduate
and doctorate students of humanities."
"But we all have one thing in common."
"We wish to unfold our life's journey
through the medium of film."
"The institute provides suitable programs
to meet the needs
of members of different levels."
"We believe this is a good place
for those who wish to begin their studies
with a theoretical approach."
"Of course, each department also provides
a training program for creative projects."
"The Yellow Door Film Institute
awaits young, enthusiastic,
and talented film students."
"Knock on the yellow door of the institute
and push that hefty door open,
leading you to your life with film
and the Korean film industry."
That was grandiose.
Talk about grandiosity!
It's well-written.
Wow, this is cool.
Subtitle translation by: Daham Yoon