Park Chan-wook, South Korea’s best-known filmmaker and director of the revenge flick “Oldboy,” has joined forces with his young brother and media artist Park Chan-kyong and shot a 30-minute short on a small budget of 150 million won (around $133,000) using the world’s most popular gadget, Apple’s iPhone 4.
Titled “Paranmanjang,” which roughly translates from Korean to “life full of ups and downs,” the film is a whimsical tale of life and death about a fisherman who becomes entangled in a murder when he catches the body of a woman on his hook; it seems right down the director’s usually gruesome and surreal style. Korea Realtime (via Bleeding Cool) elaborates further on the plot: “The [30 minute] short is a fantastical tale that begins with a middle-aged man fishing one afternoon and then, hours later at night, catches the body of a woman. The panicked man tries to undo the intertwined fishing line, but he gets more and more entangled. He faints, then wakes up to find himself in the white clothes that the woman was wearing. The movie’s point of view then shifts to the woman and it becomes a tale of life and death from a traditional Korean point of view.”
Actress Lee Jung-hyun, who plays the woman, told The Associated Press that the film “mixes all elements from horror and fantasy to some humor,” all of which are in the usual thematic mix for Park.
“There are some good points of making a movie with the iPhone as there are many people around the world who like to play and have fun with them,” Park Chan-wook said. The directorial duo simply attached lenses to their phone and shot the film, saying that it was not much different than shooting a “regular movie.” And for those tech heads out there who are even more curious as to how he shot and edited the film, a behind-the-scenes look is on the way as the director tells Korea Realtime, “From hunting for a film location, shooting auditions, to doing a documentary on the filming process, everything was shot with the iPhone 4. We went through all the same film-making processes except that the camera was small.”
While Sofia Coppola is among the directors that prefer classic film and old lenses from the 1980s, Park Chan-wook isn’t afraid to get his feet wet and take advantage of the opportunities provided by new filmmaking technologies and their potential to give birth to a whole new generation of filmmakers and cinematographic creations. However, despite the media attention that his latest experiment has garnered, he is not the only one. More and more filmmakers are embracing new technologies as the new “it” way to shoot a movie. For instance, Korea Telecom Corporation, the wireless operator that distributes the iPhone in South Korea not only helped pick up the production tab for “Paranmanjang,” but also sponsored a short film festival last October where 12 of the productions were shot with the iPhone 4.
The film is expected to start screening in South Korean theaters on January 27th — hence the poster and new still from the film — but it’s unknown at this time when it might be released elsewhere. But it sounds fascinating, and we’re definitely intrigued even if shooting on an iPhone seems terribly gimmicky. — Laura-Alexandra Vrabie