HOKMA College of General Education held a book concert on Nov. 14 with director and screenwriter Kim Bo-ra discussing her debut film “House of Hummingbird.” Several important cut scenes from the movie were presented and analyzed. Also, she delivered crucial messages from the production.
Kim graduated from Dongguk University as a film major. She left Korea in 2007 and received her master’s degree in Fine Arts at Columbia University. “The Recorder Exam,” the first short film she produced in 2011, won Best Woman Student Filmmaker at the Directors Guild of America and the Best Student Short Award at the 12th Woodstock Film Festival. Based on this production, she began to work on the script strongly inspired by her own childhood.
After seven years, Kim produced “House of Hummingbird” in 2018. It is about a 14-year-old girl called Eunhee who confronts the world and the city in 1994, which is the year the Seongsu Bridge collapsed. While her family members struggle to deal with their own problems, she confronts an adult who can truly understand her situation and feelings. This production brought about sensations to indie film and she received a lot of awards from festivals such as the Grand Prix by Generation 14plus International Jury for Best Film at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. It was also selected for the Independent Filmmaker Project Narrative Lab and received postproduction support from Sundance Film Festival.
Kim started off the book concert by describing “House of Hummingbird” as a movie where warmth and darkness coexist. She added on by saying that the opening of the film is crucial since it can be considered as a first impression. Moreover, Kim carefully decided upon using electronic music inserted in past recollection scenes to avoid the old vibes since the background of the story is placed in 1994.
She also highlighted the importance of human emotions and feedback from the general audience.
“One of my brother’s friend told me, ‘As I pushed the bell I heard the sound of a dog barking, and was suddenly terrified. My family didn’t raise a dog.’ I realized that an auditory cue could signal his fears of being abandoned by his family,” Kim said.
The panic of being abandoned by others is a feeling that could be relatable in real life, so Kim wanted to portray this imagination through the characters’ behavior and attitude.
Next, she discussed key points for creation. Creation sparks from segmented pieces of concrete images such as the coldness of a metal doorknob and a smudged bill with red pepper powder. Based on her past experiences, she organized these images in her diary since 2012 and integrated the individual sounds and broken pieces into one.
In addition, she alluded that creation involves the process of confronting oneself and realizing what is making one suffer. For example, Kim shared that one of the moments she felt astonished was when Eunhee who is a middle-school student insists to enter Seoul National University.
“This scene hurt my feelings the most, because I felt that the Korean society has injected hierarchical thoughts and rigid guidelines for living a successful life at such a young age,” Kim said. “I view this as an issue of our social structure which should be questioned continuously.”
Kim further shared tips for scriptwriting. One of the main aspects was to have desire and to complete the rough draft of the scenario because a single idea can consecutively bring about many innovative ideas. She stressed the importance of generative image, which is like the first sentence of a novel.
“Generative image is an essential component when producing a film,” Kim said. “A movie is comprised of only several memorable image cuts and is recalled as a visual narrative, not a chronological explanation of the story.”
Lastly, she mentioned impromptu writing for 10 minutes as a channel to contemplate a meaningful life for oneself.
“I recommend people to try impromptu writing for a specific topic such as recalling the saddest moment, because it allows one to thoroughly realize how they view life. It enables an individual to organize one’s thoughts as well without taking into account of other’s perspective.”
Kim Yu-hui, a junior from the Department of Business Administration, shared comments after participating in the book concert.
“The book concert gave me an opportunity to reconsider how movies can deliver meaningful and thought-provoking messages rather than a mere medium of entertainment.”