BETTER THAN A HARLEY DAVIDSON, 23min,. South Korea
Directed by Seung Yeon You
Young Joo's heart beats whenever she sees a motorcycle. However, it is not easy to ride a motorcycle in the atmosphere of the family that ignores Young Joo just because she is a daughter. One day, Yong Seok, Young Joo’s father, recklessly buys "Harley Davidson" and brags to Young Joo. Being upset with his boast, Young Joo buys a motorcycle secretly from her family and is placed in unexpected situations...
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
This movie was inspired by my personal experiences. I ride a motorcycle, much like the main character, Young Joo, in the film. Additionally, my father is a Harley Davidson rider. I have one brother who, unlike me, is quiet and doesn't relish taking on challenges. Frankly speaking, I believe that I share a stronger connection with my father in terms of personality and preferences. However, my father is more inclined to connect with my brother, primarily because he is his son. Just as in the movie, my father expressed his desire to pass on the Harley Davidson to my brother, who isn't particularly interested in bikes. This aspect, combined with my longstanding contemplation of household gender discrimination, served as the inspiration for the film.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I worked on the screenplay in September 2021, made preparations in October, and conducted the shooting in November. The final shooting session was held in March 2022. I deliberately scheduled the last session three months later to portray the growth of the main character and the seasonal changes.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
I had previously worked on a few short films, but this 23-minute-long film was a new challenge for me, and it required extensive preparation. It was also one of my initial experiences collaborating with a large crew, which presented challenges in terms of effective communication and sharing ideas. Most of the difficulties I encountered were a result of my own lack of experience, and during that period, I went through a tough phase where I was quite miserable. At times, I even found myself harboring self-doubt for several months. Nevertheless, I was fortunate to work with individuals who believed in me and persisted in bringing the film to completion. In hindsight, those demanding moments have turned out to be a valuable period of personal growth. I want to express my heartfelt appreciation, especially to the director of photography “Jeong Ha Lee”, who dedicated a significant amount of time to pondering and completing the film alongside me.
Another additional challenge was casting the characters who ride the motorbikes. The main character, Young Joo, and the bike seller, Kang Sun, needed to be capable motorbike riders.
However, due to various circumstances, I ended up performing the stunt riding myself. This added an extra layer of meaning to the film.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was truly amazing to see that the audience, who come from different countries and have had unique life experiences, could connect with my film and feel the same emotions. Once again, I realized that this is one of the most captivating aspects of film. I was incredibly pleased when they appreciated the elements I had thoughtfully created. As I've been busy working on my new film, I momentarily forgot about this film, but this feedback video served as a reminder of how much effort and love I put into making this film. I am sincerely grateful to the many audience members who watched the film and shared their reactions.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
When I was in middle school, I made my first video as a school assignment, and it sparked a desire to continue making videos. So when I entered high school, I chose a school near my home with a film program. There, I learned the fundamentals of filmmaking, much like studying mathematics in a normal school.
Understanding the language of film, I realized that I wanted to bring out my inner voice through movies and continue to share my stories. What made it even more enjoyable was that I worked on this film project with friends from school who shared my passion. During that time, making films was as simple as saying, "You handle the camera!" and "You take on the role!" We had a great time filming, and it felt like there was nothing too challenging.
After graduating from high school, whenever the opportunity arose, I gathered my friends to make movies. Although I didn't major in film in college, I found myself continually making films like instinct. At that time I realized that making films was really what wanted to do.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I think I've watched the movies 'Chicago' and 'The Handmaiden' the most in my life. Both of them have been significant turning points for me. I happened to watch the movie 'Chicago (Directed by Rob Marshall)’ on TV in middle school. Until then, I hadn't seen a movie in my life like 'Chicago,' in which women speak up, fight, and achieve what they want. The shock I experienced back then, discovering a whole new world of women's cinema, is still vivid in my memory.
The movie 'The Handmaiden (Directed by Chan Wook Park)' also had a profound impact on me in various ways. In the history of Korean cinema, there hadn't been such a bold and large-scale queer film like it. The solidarity and love between the female protagonists, along with the stunning cinematography and artwork, make it impossible not to love this film.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
The most memorable moments for me are the post-screening discussions with the audience. It's truly gratifying when the audience watches the film, which I've seen hundreds of times during the editing process, and applauds it. It feels like a rewarding moment that compensates for all the hard work I've put in. So, this feedback video was especially touching. I'd like to keep it and watch it for a long time.
10. What is your favorite meal?
I love kimchi stew. I'm currently living in Vancouver to prepare for my enrollment at the Vancouver Film School. I still have some time before starting, so I've started learning cooking. And it's even more delicious because it's Korean food being enjoyed in a foreign country. I also really enjoy Canadian cuisine, especially poutine. When I was in Korea, I used to visit a poutine place called "Beth's Poutine" in Itaewon quite often, but I haven't found a delicious poutine spot in Canada yet.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
This year, I produced a film called "Eulogy." South Korea remains a conservative country that has not yet legalized same-sex marriage. Making queer films in this context holds significant meaning as an act of advocacy. "Eulogy" portrays events that occur after the legalization of same-sex marriage in a future South Korea. The protagonist, In young, has been estranged from her mother for a long time. After her mother's passing, In young receives a will from her mother's female partner, Sun Rye. In her quest to inherit her mother's legacy, In young confronts Sun Rye, and the film humorously unfolds their relationship while discussing family dynamics. "Eulogy" is scheduled for screening at the 2023 Seoul International Pride Film Festival and will be available for viewing in November. I also hope for an opportunity to screen it in Canada.
As a queer director making queer films, I aspire to create many more queer films that the queer community can enjoy. I want to make entertaining queer films with my unique, lighthearted, and comedic directorial style. My journey continues as I start at Vancouver Film School next week, where I eagerly anticipate connecting with diverse individuals and living out all the experiences I've ever wished for. I hope to have another chance to meet like this if the opportunity arises. Thank you, see you :)