When a water contamination issue forces a trailer park to be closed, a young girl must come to terms with leaving everything and everyone she has ever known behind.
TNC spoke with director Kyung Sok Kim and writer/producer Rex Reyes about their unique short film.
Hi Kyung and Rex, thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?
Kyung: Los Angeles is definitely having a hard time right now, but I’m trying to stay as busy as possible. I’ve been using this time to finally complete some scripts that I’ve been writing for a long time.
Rex: It’s been tricky with Covid-19 related dilemmas in Los Angeles, but I’ve just been able to stay afloat with freelancing. Also, on the brighter side it has allowed me time to write, be creative, and step back from my life and really take things into perspective. For example, I tend to think about what I truly value and want to achieve in my life, as another day is not always guaranteed.
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?
Kyung: Due to the pandemic, most of my daily lives have got much more similar to each other than before. Sometimes I lost track of time and thought my days were kind of repeating. And this experience made me more interested in parallel universes, a simulation hypothesis, etc. Some of the scripts I’m completing right now are also related to these inspirations.
Rex: Yes, it’s actually given birth to a new idea that feels almost like a spiritual successor to Furthest From, but from an adult’s perspective. It would be a post-covid story about an adult’s coming of age journey, and how some teenagers can be more grown up than their adult counterparts.
You are alumni of the AFI Conservatory, how much did this experience help you on your filmmaking journey?
Kyung: I believe I spent a precious time at AFI. Its competitive nature allowed me to be more precise and also creative at the same time as a writer-director, and I learned how to collaborate with my teammates and bring the best out of them. The best part is that I was able to meet many promising artists who can be my future teammates. I’m very grateful for that.
Rex: For me as a writer/producer, I had to really think about the creative whilst balancing out the logistics of production. For me, this allowed me to grow as a filmmaker. I think coming into AFI I’d felt like I was very anxious, but now I feel like I can think step by step about the process, and I can see where things went wrong or where I can improve upon without hindering production.
"I think Furthest From was a chance to find my voice and host a comfortable work environment all at once."
- Rex Reyes
What would you say is the most valuable lesson you took away from your time at the AFI?
Rex: I came into AFI as someone concerned with how others perceived me, but I left as someone concerned for others. That’s the biggest difference. A producer must certainly put their heart and soul into production, but also treat the set as a camp of working human beings with needs and expectations. You won’t always please everyone, but you must be aware of everyone.
Kyung: I learned that collaboration is a very powerful tool. But in order to make the collaboration work, you need to know how to communicate well with your team. You should listen to what they are saying and offering but also you need to share your vision and goal well enough to them as well. That’s the most valuable lesson I learned.
What did it mean to be part of Barcelona Short Film Festival's amazing lineup of short films?
Kyung: It was a great honour. I really enjoyed all the films that I watched at the festival and was very excited to be part of it. It’s a shame that we couldn’t visit there because of the global pandemic, but I hope I can have another chance to visit when it all ends.
Rex: It’s truly an honour. I feel so humbled to be apart of the lineup. As a boy, I could’ve only dreamt that any story I considered valuable would be heard, let alone by folks from around the world. I’m very grateful.
How much did your experience on your previous films help prepare you for making Furthest From?
Rex: A lot of trial and error. Well, learning from my past shortcomings. I think Furthest From was a chance to find my voice and host a comfortable work environment all at once.
Kyung: Although I regard myself as an experienced filmmaker, there were some parts that I haven’t tried before this film, such as working with so many child actors. But, I still think my previous set experiences helped me stay calm in new situations.
What were the biggest challenges you faced making Furthest From?
Rex: Finding the trailer park should’ve been the most difficult, and in some ways it was, but luckily we began a relationship with the park community early on. The hardest part by far was finding Jessie, as it took a few months before Amanda Christine walked in and just was the character.
Kyung: As Rex said, finding the right Jessie for this film was the biggest challenge. And we were very lucky that we found Amanda Christine for this role. Other than that, shooting many scenes inside the real trailer was also challenging because it was tiny in there. We could’ve built a set if we wanted to make things easier, but we chose to shoot in the real trailer instead to provide a more authentic atmosphere for the performers.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
Kyung: Probably I could’ve shown more aspects of the trailer park itself, but still, I’m not sure if that would be possible considering the time limitations for the short films. But I could definitely try if I could go back in time!
Rex: I think the relationship between the sisters and others in the park could’ve been further explored, but perhaps that’s something for the future.
"Change is scary, but as long as you have your family and friends who would stand next to you, it will be alright."
- Kyung Sok Kim
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Kyung: I found out that I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was in the hospital at the age of 18. I wanted to create something that lasts even after I’m gone, so that’s how it all started. Before then, I wanted to be a pilot or a historian.
Rex: Well, depending on how far we are going back, I can only say I wanted to do this since I was about 8. Before that, I would’ve said astronaut cop, or something like that.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Kyung: Since going on a path of becoming a filmmaker is not easy, I’m sure there will be a lot of obstacles that filmmakers will face. I believe being persistent and reminding yourself of why you want to be a filmmaker is very important. As long as you don’t forget those, I think they’ll always find the way.
Rex: The best advice for anything is not to give up. The only advice I can offer is to watch movies. Not to copy them, or anything like that. I just feel like you have to contextualise where you are in time. You have to see what was to understand where you are, and then think about where you want to go with this art form.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Furthest From?
Kyung: I hope people can relate to Jessie and her journey. Change is scary, but as long as you have your family and friends who would stand next to you, it will be alright.
Rex: I hope they are willing to see that change isn’t always the worst, because sometimes keeping everything the same isn’t the healthiest thing either.