I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter.......
When I read the screenplay of Brokeback
Mountain. Before, I thought that a screenplay was simply a basic
blueprint of what the movie was supposed to be. Directions, dialogue,
technicalities. But when I realized that a well written script was a
work of art in itself, a story expressed in images, that a
screenwriter was the initial creator of a movie, that is when I knew
that I wanted to write as well as direct.
I know I've succeeded.......
When I google my name and find it in a
list of winning screenplays? I guess success is a funny word to use at
age 17, but there’s no reason to overrate success, is there?
My inspiration to write SOMEWHERE
BETWEEN CALM AND PASSION.......
Everything around me. The private boarding school, the college-crazy students,
daily lectures on how to write that winning essay, the roommates- I try to
take in everything and spit it out, in a (hopefully) more enjoyable form.
What inspired you to write?
Hyemin Koo: Since the 2nd grade, nothing in my life has escaped
captivation in words (I kept a DIARY- most important move of my
career) I go through my absurd life and try to make sense out of
things by writing them down. Tennessee Williams once said that he
wrote because he found life unsatisfactory. Well, I think I share his
allergy for life in its crude form. I write to express reality,
sublimate reality, forget reality. It was when I felt the need to
share my world with a larger audience that I was inspired to become a
screenwriter and a filmmaker.
FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to
write your first script?
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN CALM AND PASSION was my first script, at least the
first one I finished. I basically typed ‘screenwriting’ at amazon.com
and ordered the first 5 results at the school library. When they
arrived, I read these books from cover to cover, mainly The
Screenwriter’s Bible by Trottier. I tried to follow his advice on
storytelling and formatting, but in retrospect I think I pretty much
ignored everything in that book while writing SOMEWHERE.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is
this your first script and how long did it take you to write SOMEWHERE
BETWEEN CALM AND PASSION?
Yes. This script took about 2 months to plan and one day to write.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?
Being a full-time high school student, it’s hard to have a set routine
(except for my diary and composition assignments). That is why my
script was written on such a unique schedule- I had no choice. I would
scribble down ideas about plot turns and characters on my textbook,
during class, between classes, and organize them in my notebook after
school. After two months of doing this and sabotaging most of my
courses, I had one day left until the contest deadline and two days
left until finals. I took my laptop out in the hallway where the
electricity wouldn’t be cut off, took out my notes and wrote my
screenplay from 7 PM to 6 AM, slept from 6 to 7, revised it from 7 to
8, then went to school looking like a madman(woman).
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests
are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
When you’re as amateur as I am, I think it works as a great morale
booster. Since this was my first screenplay, I considered making Top
300 a miracle. Even if you don’t win anything in the end, any kind of
feedback (negative ones motivate you, positive ones let you believe in
your own potential) offers the best help an aspiring anything can get.
FilmMakers Magazine: What
influenced you to enter the
American Gem Short Script Competition?
Stephen King wrote in his autobiography that the nail on his wall
would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon
it (he apparently sent his stories to a bunch of magazines since he
was young). Following his tradition, I entered this contest for my
first rejection slip, but I guess the best laid plans often go awry.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?
Those that paint pictures with words, like Brokeback Mountain, Taxi
Driver, Dog Day Afternoon- those where the dialogue rings in your
head, like Annie Hall, Fight Club, Clueless, Dead Poet’s Society-
those generally well-crafted screenplays like Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind, Crash, Memento, American Beauty, Magnolia, and The
Godfather, where the screenwriter makes life easier for the director.
I think that pretty much covers everything I’ve read. Just read
anything you can get your hands on; there are bad experiences, but
never worthless ones.
Beside screenwriting what are you
passionate about and why?
Writing in general, film, drawing, literature (old English, modern
Korean), French (poetry, food, movies), Broadway, music, singing (I’d
like to take the lead in a musical before I die), 60s oldies,
Hollywood, Bollywood- Basically, I’m in love with art in any form.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter
I don’t think I have one. But I have a bunch of favorite writers.
Salinger once said that a writer, when she's asked to discuss her
craft, ought to get up and call out in a loud voice just the names of
the writers she loves. I love Salinger, Rimbaud, Austen, Steinbeck,
Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Shakespeare, King, Lee, Eliot, Chopin, Twain,
Mitchell, L’Engle and Rowling(!).
FilmMakers Magazine: Name
the director you would love to work with and why?
Michel Gondry. Seeing how bizarre his works are, I think he’d be best
capable of visually representing my mental world, which is my raison
Name the actor you would love to work with and why?
Hyemin Koo: Edward Norton. Primal Fear freaked me out, and that
was the first time that I got a gut feeling of what good acting was.
Also, I think he is one of the few intellectual actors who actually
understand what they are doing while doing it.
Any tips and things learned along
the way to pass on to others?
puberty-stricken 17 year-old, I’m in no position to give advice. Just
try anything you want to. It won’t work out every time, but if you’re
truly devoted to what you’re doing, it will someday. Like Steve Jobs
said, connect the dots, even the failures, and it will turn into
something. Sometimes you flunk your Physics quiz, and sometimes you
win 2nd place with the first screenplay you wrote between classes in
high school. Shit and dreams happen. But at the end of the day, it’s
only life, so don’t ever worry :)
What's next for you?
Hyemin Koo: Tomorrow, mid-terms. Next month, college
applications. Next year, college, hopefully the one I’m applying to
next month. More, better scripts which aren’t so adolescent. And some
day, a filmmaker directing my own screenplays. My ultimate, ultimate
dream is to write and direct a series of movies, like Star Wars, which
creates a whole new world just as fantastical. A world incorporating
kids, teens, adults, and all their imaginations, like Harry Potter or
Tolkien, with elements from literature all over the world (Film and
Literature, my two infatuations). I am searching everywhere for
something newer than Jedi Masters, Muggles, or Hobbits. Any
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from
Hyemin Koo: Where will a newbie college graduate be? I have no
idea. But I hope I’ll be someplace far away, trekking my home country
(Korea), rafting on the Congo River or partying in Havana.
Experiencing life, finding something newer than Jedi Masters, Muggles,
or Hobbits, you know?