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SXSW '06 Interview: 'Inner Circle Line' Director Eunhee Cho

by Scott Weinberg

The 'Inner Circle Line' Pitch: An experimental narrative on the tragedy of love, juxtaposing the stories of two characters, one male and one female, who both have the same name, Youngju.

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.
The intertwined relationships among a circle of young adults cause them to revolve through cycles of love, loss and rebirth.

Is this your first trip to SXSW? Got any other film festival experience? If you’re a festival veteran, let us know your favorite and least-favorite parts of the ride.
This is my first trip to SXSW, but we recently premiered the film in Europe. My favorite part is meeting other filmmakers, watching their films and learning from them; my least favorite is the “sales” part.

Back when you were a little kid, and you were asked that inevitable question, your answer would always be “When I grow up I want to be a …” what?

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
In my sophomore year in the undergraduate film program at Dongguk University in Seoul, I called up all my friends and just made a film on Betacam for fun, about a bunch of immature twentysomethings, just to test myself to see if I could be a filmmaker.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it’s on “the festival circuit?”
I feel like a mother who’s just given birth: tired, relieved, and ready to just take care of myself for a while and let the film have a life of its own.

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
I don’t know, because we don’t have the Muppets in Korea where I grew up, but my producer tells me I’d be “the Swedish chef who makes funny noises but never talks”.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
No, I never thought about that, just about getting the film made.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
It started as a script in film school, then was shot after being selected for a grant from the Korean Film Council. After that I came back to Chicago, where I went to film school, and I edited for months on my own, at home, to get to a rough cut. The rough cut attracted some additional investment for post, and here we are.

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition? Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
Mauvais Sang by Leos Carax and Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski really inspired me, because they’re very poetic, almost like Impressionist films, and always, about love.

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
Paul Giamatti. My producer and I agree that only the G-Man has the range and depth to fully capture the emotional complexities and contradictions of Homer Simpson, while also capturing his hairline and waistline.

Say you landed a big studio contract tomorrow, and they offered you a semi-huge budget to remake, adapt, or sequelize something. What projects would you tackle?
The Wizard of Oz, because I think it’s the greatest Hollywood studio classic – it has everything.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Yongkun Bae. He acts not with his head, but with his heart. He’s humble, and hardworking - a normal guy, but when he gets in front of the camera, something changes – his charisma and aura really comes out.

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d almost definitely be...
A bartender, running a brewery, or… do you get the theme here?

Who’s an actor you’d kill a small dog to work with? (Don’t worry; nobody would know.)
Juliette Binoche. Maybe she could play the mother in this story I’m developing about a Korean adoptee who becomes a great cello player…

Have you “made it” yet? If not, what would have to happen for you to be able to say “Yes, wow. I have totally made it!”
Kind of – but only in the sense that I never set out to “make it” – just to make a movie, which I’ve done now. That’s all you need, right?

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
I’m sorry, I am foreigner, I don’t speak English…

You’re told that your next movie must have one “product placement” on board, but you can pick the product. What would it be?
Top Ramen, the survival choice of indie filmmakers everywhere… but I’d spruce it up by making it something extravagant, like Top Ramen, now with Caviar!

You’re contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated film to your producers. The MPAA says you have to delete a sex scene that’s absolutely integral to the film or you’re getting an NC-17. How do you handle it?
I talk to my producers with a big stick in my hand and make them an offer they can’t refuse.

What’s your take on the whole “a film by DIRECTOR” issue? Do you feel it’s tacky, because hundreds (or at least dozens) of people collaborate to make a film – or do you think it’s cool, because ultimately the director is the final word on pretty much everything?
Of course a film is a collaboration of many people, but I think it’s okay if the director is actually the “author” of the film in a true sense (maybe if they also wrote or edited), and if she acknowledges the contributions of everyone else in other ways.

In closing, we ask you to convince the average movie-watcher to choose your film instead of the trillion other options they have. How do you do it?
I tell them the truth – that watching my movie will help them lose weight, look younger and completely change their lives. Or hope that the movie touches enough people that they recommend it to friends.


Inner Circle Line, starring Eunyong Yang, Yongkun Bae, Yumi Jung, Moonsu Bang, and Soyun Jang, will premiere at the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for festival information and be sure to check out the official Inner Circle Line website!

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originally posted: 02/23/06 10:24:47
last updated: 02/25/06 09:07:37
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