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19th ÉCU Film Festival, Paris

"I'm also incredibly excited to share the film with the audience and see their reactions."

Festival Screening:


April 14, 2024  

A Korean spy becomes the target of the Turkish mafia. However, complicating this situation is the fact that Korean gangsters, working with the Turkish mafia, are also pursuing the spy. Simultaneously, the spy grapples with an internal conflict rooted in his past. The painful history that he cannot forget not only weakens him but also transforms him into a formidable force.


Hi Jacob, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current. Are you looking forward to screening Dead Man Walking (DMW) at ÉCU this year?


Thank you for giving me this opportunity first of all. I'm very excited, of course, because Dead Man Walking, which is my baby and also my first project, will have its first screening in Europe. I hope everything goes well for us and for the audience. I also want to thank the ECU Festival from here.


You’ve had an incredible repose to Dead Man Walking (DMW), winning Best Student Film at the New York Movie Awards (2023). What did it mean to you to get this type of response for your film?


Yes, excluding the university where the project originated, the award at that festival was indeed our first. It showed us that we were on the right path and that our efforts had paid off. We are truly grateful to the festival, and I also want to thank my teammates for their dedication and hard work.


Does getting this type of recognition add any additional pressure on you as you start to think about you next film project?


Yes, it's definitely a boost to receive recognition for Dead Man Walking, but it also adds some pressure when thinking about what comes next. There's this expectation to either meet or exceed the standard set by the previous work. However, I try to see it as a source of motivation rather than just pressure. It encourages me to aim for excellence and to keep telling meaningful stories through my filmmaking. Overall, I consider it an opportunity for growth and learning in my craft.


With this being your graduation film are there any nerves ahead of your screening in Paris?


Of course, there are some nerves leading up to the screening in Paris, especially considering that this is my graduation film. It's a culmination of years of hard work and dedication, and there's always a bit of anxiety when presenting your work to a new audience, particularly at such a prestigious event like ÉCU. However, I'm also incredibly excited to share the film with the audience and see their reactions. Overall, it's a mix of nerves and anticipation, but I'm hopeful that the screening will be a success.


How important are festivals like ÉCU in continuing to champion and supporting independent films and filmmakers?


Festivals like ÉCU play a pivotal role in championing and supporting independent films and filmmakers. They provide a platform for showcasing innovative and unique storytelling that might not otherwise have a mainstream audience. These festivals also offer networking opportunities, allowing filmmakers to connect with industry professionals, distributors, and fellow creatives. Moreover, the recognition and exposure gained from participating in such festivals can significantly boost the careers of independent filmmakers, helping them secure funding for future projects and expand their reach. Overall, festivals like ÉCU are essential for fostering a diverse and vibrant independent film community.


Can you tell me a little bit about how Dead Man Walking (DMW) came about, what inspired your screenplay?


It was a graduation project as I mentioned. When I was studying in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, I was almost the only foreign student for four years. Most students, were making conventional films near the campus and I wanted to seize the opportunity of being the only foreigner. Also, having the advantage of knowing three languages, I decided to use all three simultaneously and shoot this film both in the country I lived in, South Korea, and my homeland, Istanbul. That's how the script came about, and it was always highly appreciated by the school and continues to be so.

What mad you want to shoot a script that utilised three languages?


I simply decided to bring this advantage into reality, in short, I wanted to utilise my advantage. In other words, I wanted to create a more global project.


What would you say has been the most valuable lesson you’ve taken from making Dead Man Walking (DMW) and what won’t you do on your next shoot? 


Actually, I mentioned in a Zoom interview with the festival that since this was my first project, I didn't pay much attention to the planning stage. Honestly, I didn't jot down too many details in my agenda. I always thought, "Let's start shooting and decide on set." But I believe that was the biggest mistake I made. As a result, there were many delays and disruptions. However, we managed to cope with them. Currently, we are already working on another project, and believe me, I'm jotting down even the smallest details in my agenda, something that most people don't do.


What where the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life?


The delays were due to lack of planning, but I promised myself I wouldn't do that again. I believe planning is everything in every stage of filmmaking.


When working on a project like this how much flexibility did you allow yourself?


Flexibility is essential when working on any project, especially in the unpredictable world of filmmaking. While I believe in the importance of thorough planning and preparation, I also recognise the need to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and be open to creative changes along the way. It's crucial to strike a balance between sticking to the initial vision and being responsive to the evolving needs of the production. Ultimately, allowing for some degree of flexibility enables you to overcome challenges more effectively and seize opportunities for innovation and improvement.


Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?


In hindsight, there are certainly aspects of the film where I would have made different decisions. As mentioned earlier, I would have placed more emphasis on thorough planning and organisation from the outset to avoid delays and disruptions during the production process. Additionally, I would have prioritised self-care and work-life balance to ensure the well-being of myself and the team throughout the project. These experiences have taught me valuable lessons that I will carry forward into future projects, emphasising the importance of meticulous planning, adaptability, and self-care in filmmaking.


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?


As my father managed a cinema hall, my interest in cinema grew. Watching films almost every day in the cinema hall marked the beginning of my passion for the cinematic world, leading me to start creating simple videos and uploading them to YouTube.


Do you remember the first film you saw at your father cinema hall that that sparked the filmmaker inside you?


It was a long time ago and unfortunately I don't remember. But I did my best to remember.


Is there any film genre or director you’ve come across that you really admire?


There are several film genres and directors that I truly admire for their unique storytelling abilities and artistic vision. One director who has had a profound impact on me is Christopher Nolan. His ability to craft complex narratives while maintaining a high level of visual and technical excellence is truly inspiring. Batman: Dark Night is one of my favourite movie by the way.


Is there any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


Of course, if I were to offer advice to a fellow filmmaker, I would add that they should stay true to their vision and not hesitate to try new things. Filmmaking requires patience, perseverance, and being open to new ideas. Don't be afraid to push the boundaries of storytelling and take risks. Surround yourself with a supportive team who shares your passion and values, and always strive to create work that is authentic and meaningful to you. Failure is an inevitable part of the creative process, but it's also an opportunity for growth and learning. Stay curious, stay inspired, and never lose sight of why you fell in love with filmmaking in the first place. These are also for me.

And finally, what is the message you would like your audiences to take from Dead Man Walking (DMW)?


The message I hope audiences take from Dead Man Walking (DMW) is one of empathy, and the importance of not limiting themselves, even if it's a simple student production. Creativity is crucial.

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