Every day through the end of the Sundance Film Festival, including weekends, indieWIRE will be publishing two interviews with Sundance competition filmmakers. Sixty filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an email interview and each was sent the same questions.
Korean filmmaker Cho Chang-ho directed “The Peter Pan Formula,” screening in the World Cinema Competition: Dramatic section. This is Cho’s first feature, but he has roots in Korean cinema having worked with director Kim Ki-duk (“3-Iron“).
What were the circumstances that led you to become a filmmaker?
Specifically it was when I first went to the movies for the first time. I’d spent my childhood in a very small and secluded village where you couldn’t see any cars around, and I didn’t know anything about movies. I just had the vague thought that I would have a job related to creative work in the future. Then I went to a high school in a city, and there I went to the movie theatre for the first time in my life. It was an incredible experience. My goodness, I had never imagined there could exist such a beautiful means to express one’s thoughts and values. I was extremely lucky to have a place which was right next to the cinema, although sometimes I feel that fortune is also my misfortune…
What other creative outlets do you explore?
I think we’re creating all the time in some way. For someone like me, creating is life itself, everything is a challenge toward creation.
Did you go to film school? Or how did you learn about filmmaking? How did you finance your own film?
Obviously, I did major in directing in college, but it didn’t mean anything significant to me. I’d learnt rather from the people I’ve met, who have been dreaming the same thing as me… Technical parts in filmmaking is something that other staffs could take care of, it wasn’t my interest. But after I became determined to become a director, I started visualizing everything like cinema. I think there is very little for a movie director to get something from the formal learning at film school; films are the outcome of spiritual maturity achieved by self-enlightenment… sort of. And as for the money, I had written a scenario and showed it to the producer Lee Seung-Jae and from then on he took care of everything… hmm,let me rephrase that, he took care of almost everything.
What are your biggest creative influences?
I have often felt rather lonely and isolated and frequently wanted to strike up a conversation with strangers, however, I was timid and lacked the courage to talk to them. My sincerity was often ignored and I was deeply hurt and, therefore, it was natural for me to search for another means of communication. I think this kind of process of life has profoundly influenced my films. To speak generally, those numerous others who have overlooked me have an effect on my films (90 percent of them are women!) However, symbolically speaking, someone like Copernicus might have influenced me. I get tense when I think of those people who have suggested a whole new paradigm of the universe or human society, and when I imagine the agonies of those pathfinders. Other than that, I can’t think of anyone related to films to be honest. It’s not that there aren’t any great directors or films, it’s just that I haven’t watched enough films or known many directors. Or to put it differently, every director and film that I’ve seen has influenced me… but I feel this can be translated as ‘I’m a genius,’ or cocky…
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making the movie?
The most difficult challenge was that I felt I was not talented enough, and the next thing would be the fact that those people in the film industry hardly recognized my talent, [or] nevertheless not enough.
Tell us about the moment you found out that you were accepted into Sundance, where were you?
Is it really a big deal to get an invitation from Sundance? I expect I would have more to find out after I participate in Sundance.
What do you hope to get out of the festival, what are your own goals forthe experience?
I am hoping to get a very special experience, such as meeting a stranger who is fond of my film (“The Peter Pan Formula”) and can also speak good Korean so that we can communicate with each other as much as possible in a limited amount of time.
If you were given $10 million to be used for moviemaking, how would you spend it?
It makes me happy just to imagine it… I know that too much money isn’t necessarily helpful for making films. Anyhow, I need money for the time being. First of all, I would use half of the amount money for people who are starving and neglected. Also, I need a house to stay and rest. It really wears you out to live without a house for a long time, and there is a piece of work [I have in mind] that no producer would finance, but I have to make into a film. So, please, give me some money.
What are one or two of your New Years resolutions?
Making films. I have two scenarios called “Alright. It’s Still Alright” and “Icecream Love” respectively, and I hope to make them both if possible.
If you took President Bush’s job, who would you hire/fire and why?
If I were Bush, then who could I blame? It’s all my fault… I should resign my power for the sake of the peace and coexistence of this world. That would be the most worthwhile achievement that I, as President Bush, would ever have done.