As the makeup team’s handiwork became more delicate, Park Suyeong’s face gradually lost its vitality. Her eyes looked hollow, like a wilting flower, and her lips seemed parched as if they had been through a drought. In reality, Park Suyeong had been controlling her weight by adjusting her diet. Her gaunt cheeks revealed the effort she had put in to immerse herself in the role.
“Unnie, is this enough?”
“Sohee, the area under the eyes is too dark. Do you think I’m going to die today? Make it subtle, like paint spreading. And take a photo of me today. I want it to be a bit darker the next time we shoot. I’m counting on you.”
German screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz once said that the harmony between an actor and a character was paramount. No matter how good the ingredients were, it wouldn’t be edible if the flavors didn’t come together. The same went for roles. The writer’s intentions, the PD’s direction, and the actor’s imagination must be harmonious for a role to be complete. Park Suyeong seemed to become more lifeless each day, just like Kim Hajin’s mother. But there was one problem.
The emotions aren’t there yet.
It was inevitable. Park Suyeong had learned acting in a theater company for a long time, but there was a clear difference between stage and screen acting. The approach to mise-en-scène was different, and the immersion into the frame and the role had to change accordingly. It wasn’t enough to repeat a role’s life for two hours; the progression of time had to be shown. This was also her first time playing a dying character, so Park Suyeong went through a lot of thinking.
Not only did she need to convince the audience, but she also had to genuinely live as the character in the script. This is why even actors with a reputation for their stage acting struggled to break down this wall. In this sense, Jang Yeongguk was amazing. Even though he played a character completely different from his real life, when the camera started rolling, he transformed into Kim Hajin. Park Suyeong seemed to have come to a decision. She picked up the phone and dialed a number.
“Director Kim, you need to come down to Yeongdo for a bit.”
– “Yeongdo? Isn’t that about the commercial that got canceled last time? That was because Son Somin lowered the price, and we had no choice. If you dump them now, you’ll ruin everything, including your reputation. The company decided that the younger Son Somin would be better for the product image.”
“I’m not talking about that!”
– “Then what? Did something happen on set? It’s not like the last time you fought with the PD and writer, right? Park Suyeong, I don’t mean to undermine your acting career, but a director has a different sense of responsibility than an actor. How many times have I told you that?
“It’s not that! I know I’m not always fighting!”
Park Suyeong’s eyebrows twitched. The makeup team had already left the waiting room. The manager and stylist had also left early because of the rising tone of the conversation.
“It’s just that there’s an actor you need to meet!”
– “An actor? There’s no adult actor on the Yeongdo set other than you. Did you find someone useful among the extras?”
“Just come down here!”
– “Right now? I can’t come down this month because my schedule is so packed. Instead, have Myeongseon give them a business card. If they’re an extra, they should have some free time to come to Seoul and find us.”
“No, seriously! Make some time to come to Yeongdo before we finish shooting!”
Park Suyeong hung up the phone irritably. After all, she was offering to bring a treasure, but he didn’t even know that. Still, if it was Director Kim, she could trust him. He was the kind of person who didn’t just tell a signed actor what they wanted to hear but also gave them harsh criticism. She was curious. Would he be able to recognize a gem amid countless stones?
“Why do you keep following me?”
It was before filming had started, yet Yeon Su kept chasing after me like ducklings following their mother. As an only child, it felt like I had a younger sister, which was cute but also annoying. She didn’t know when to stay away, even sticking her head in when I went to the restroom, asking where I was going. At this point, I started to doubt whether this was the actress Yeon Su I knew in my past life.
“I’m just, just acting!”
“Yes, that’s what you said, oppa. To look at you like a pine tree standing tall and act! To become Son Yerin! Son Yerin likes Kim Hajin, right?”
That wasn’t what I intended when I gave her advice, but she certainly had an exceptional ability to absorb new skills. As Yeon Su stayed glued to my side, even the film crew passing by would smile. Yeon Su’s mother also seemed to watch us fondly. What a sight.
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“I ate breakfast, but…”
“Here, eat this. Your acting will suffer if you’re hungry.”
She was at that age when she would still be hungry even after eating three meals a day. I handed her a boiled potato that I had brought for the extras. Yeon Su took a bite, and her eyes widened in delight.
“Is it good?”
“I’ve never had a potato this delicious before!”
She accepted the food so willingly. I wondered if she lacked a sense of caution, but that didn’t seem to be the case. When I asked her about it, she told me the truth.
“I’m eating it because you gave it to me, oppa. I usually don’t eat just anything when I’m outside!”
“You’re so messy.”
I wasn’t sure if it was because the potato was genuinely delicious or because she had been staring at me while eating, but there were bits of potato all around her mouth. I gently wiped them away with my finger, and Yeon Su’s eyes grew even bigger. At that moment, I saw Park Suyeong enter the filming set.
The tide has turned.
I recognized Park Suyeong instantly. She had dominated the drama and movie scenes in my past life, hadn’t she? An actor’s job was to constantly explore their craft. They needed to put their soul into their art, actions, and voice. This was true for extras, supporting actors, and leading actors alike.
Just like sponges absorb water, they must absorb their roles and persuade the viewers beyond the screen. The more they pined for acting, the more they would grow into esteemed actors. In that regard, Park Suyeong honed her skills both externally and internally. She would continue to grow and become the Park Suyeong I knew in my past life.
‘Looking at me?’
It seemed like she was saying that when our eyes met. She was still somewhat fussy, but I didn’t dislike her. I knew she was an actor with a thirst for acting. In addition to that, because of the incident at the old house on Jeoksan, Park Suyeong occasionally sent an apologetic glance my way. And then it happened.
Park Suyeong strode over to Yeon Su and me and snickered.
“Are you two dating?”
* * *
A filming set is a place of constant communication. Directors and department heads inevitably clashed, especially when it came to the camera director. Disagreements due to differences in experience, like the one happening now, were quite common.
“Sunbae! Please listen to what I have to say! I agree with using a stunt double. But if we do that, the mise-en-scène will lose its life. It’s a scene that’s supposed to convey emotions, and if we continue like this, it’ll be neither here nor there.”
“PD Yoo! This isn’t just your art project! I’ve been holding the camera for years now. I understand what you want, but there’s no other way! If we don’t use a double and just put the child actor in there, what if there’s an accident! In times like these, we have no choice but to correct it in post!”
“Can’t we think about it a little more, or at least consider moving the filming location to a safer place?”
“Oh dear! Seriously! The filming hasn’t even started yet, and it’s driving me crazy! I know you’re the director and should have the final say, but there’s an old saying about striking a stone bridge before crossing it. There’s no way around this scene. If not, let’s just go with a full shot (F/S) instead of the one-shot (1SB/S)!”
“No, we can’t do that!”
Perhaps it felt like talking with a stubborn officer to the experienced camera director who had been through thick and thin on set. As the commotion on the filming site escalated, Yeon Su hid behind me and tugged at my clothes.
“Don’t worry, they’re not really fighting.”
After all, even if they clashed on set, animosity disappeared once the filming ended. They both knew it was because they were so passionate about the shoot. The reason for their raised voices was simple.
It’s a scene of jumping into the sea.
It’s a scene where young Kim Hajin jumps off a desolate cliff into the sea below. It was an era when life was a struggle, so naturally, people would take a break in the mountains or the sea. In the mountains, they would taste honey from azalea flowers, and in the sea, they would catch minnows. That being said…
I used to come here often.
It was a place where I frequently played as a child when I skipped school. I never expected it to be chosen as a filming location. Although there was a cliff, it wasn’t particularly dangerous; it was more like a hill. I had played there many times, jumping into the water.
Born as a boatman’s child, the sea sometimes felt like a stern but always affectionate father. The same was true for this spot. With a unique geographical feature, the water was deep enough and the current mild, making it a place I frequently visited in my past life. Here, I would console my longing for my father.
“But using a stunt double.”
I understood why Yoo Myeonghan was worried. If a stunt double were used for a child actor, it would usually be a petite adult woman. However, distorting the proportions in the footage was inevitable. Sharp-eyed viewers would immediately notice the stunt double, and the visual quality would suffer. Also, the system in the past didn’t yet have mature editing techniques. It was natural for Yoo Myeonghan to worry.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
When I removed my shoes and outer pants, Yeon Su gasped and covered her eyes. She still peeked through her fingers, though. Yoo Myeonghan and the camera director were still arguing. There was only one way to end their conflict, so I took a deep breath.
“Look over here!”
Everyone’s attention turned to me. Yoo Myeonghan looked at me with bewilderment, and the experienced camera director widened his eyes in disbelief. It was too late for them to stop me.
I leaped off the desolate cliff. It was no scarier than a hill, and my childhood memories made it even more enjoyable. As I soared through the air, I saw the blue waters below.
As I hit the water, I heard shocked voices from the hill above, but the underwater world was as peaceful as a memory from my past life. Startled by my sudden intrusion, the fish swimming around formed a wall and swam away. I recalled how I loved playing in the water when I was young.
As I surfaced and spat water, I saw people on the hill gesturing at me. Both Yoo Myeonghan and the camera director couldn’t hide their sighs of relief even though they were flustered. Grinning like young Kim Hajin, I shouted in a sassy voice.
“The water tastes so good! On a hot day like today, we should definitely take a dip!”
Why did I jump into the sea? Wasn’t it obvious? It might be the PD’s job to manage the noise on set, but setting the atmosphere was the actor’s responsibility. Plus, the slightly salty taste of the water was excellent, just like in my childhood.
 Mise-en-scène is a fancy French term filmmakers use to talk about everything they put in front of the camera. Basically, it’s everything you see in a movie, from the costumes and sets to the lighting and camera angles.
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