Sep 27 - Oct 14, 2018

Asian Film Academy 2018

2013 Dean’s Letter

I used to write novels until I was in my late 30s and never dreamed of becoming a film director. I never had a proper film education. I saw a 35mm film camera for the first time when I had my very first shooting on site as an assistant director. My friend who is a film director gave me an opportunity to write a script for his film. He also gave me an opportunity to experience the filmmaking on site and assigned me as an ‘assistant director’. There was other ‘real assistant director’ for the production, so I was going to learn how films were made just by watching from the distance. However, the real assistant director had to quit for his personal reason on the first day of shooting and I had to be ‘that real assistant director’ with no filmmaking experience whatsoever. The bigger problem was that I could not ask anyone for help.

During the film making, I kept comparing what I always see in real with the images taken in the camera. Then I started asking myself why; Why do they shoot with that particular angle? Why does the camera move that way, and why do the actors act like that? Since nobody actually answered my questions, I had to find out the answers myself.

Later, I realized that the hardship I went through actually became the valuable experience for me. Those questions I asked myself were the crucial questions of filmmaking and the answers to those questions that I figured out myself have been the essence of filmmaking for me.

Of course I studied the technical side of film by myself afterward. Most of all, my own questions and self-finding answers at the time were the most precious learning ever.

I am sure that this year’s AFA fellows selected from all over Asia are the film experts with excellent skills and knowledge comparing with me in those days. With that in mind, I would like to suggest to each and every fellow student to ask themselves what the real essence of filmmaking for them. I would like you to look around the world in the eyes of a child who picks up a camera for the first time then ask ‘why’ for things that you have taken for granted. You are young and talented and it is natural that you are seeking something new and different in filmmaking. However, I think uniqueness or exceptionality is not something that can be obtained from pursuit of differences but from how much you are close to the essence. Film represents the world on behalf of audiences’ eyes. A ‘new’ film will make viewers see the world in different point of views. To do so, you will need to see the world with different aspects just like a child with full of questions about everything they see. I sincerely hope you experience that ‘newness’ in Busan.

Lee Chang-dong
Asian Film Academy 2013