New York Asian 2019 Interview: Director Park Noo-ri on Taking the Reins and Making MONEY

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New York Asian 2019 Interview: Director Park Noo-ri on Taking the Reins and Making MONEY
After years of working in the trenches as the assistant director of blockbusters like The Unjust and The Berlin File, Park Noo-ri visited the New York Asian Film Festival with her directorial debut, Money.  Director Park chatted exclusively with LMD about helming the cinematic ship for the first time, and her collaboration with rising star, Ryu Jun-yeol.
 
 
The Lady Miz Diva:  I just finished speaking with that delightful young man who followed you to New York City, Mr. Ryu Jun-yeol.  He told me how much he enjoyed your collaboration on MONEY.  Please tell us more about working with him to create the character of Il-hyun?
 
Park Noo-ri:  When Ryu first signed on the project, I really wanted to make it as if the character of Choi Il-hyun, and the actor, Ryu Jun-yeol, as one, because I felt that the more viewers are able to see these two people as one, the more they would be more able to empathise with the characters.  
 
So, I really wanted to incorporate several elements from Ryu Jun-yeol’s actual life, and that is why I asked him a lot of questions about his life, and we really did have a lot of conversations about the character, because I really feel that having those elements in the character would make the character a lot more relatable for viewers.  We were really free with our ideas and our suggestions, and I think I really benefited from Ryu’s contribution when writing the script.
 
LMD:  That is really interesting, because one of the things I brought up in my discussion with Mr. Ryu was even though there is dialogue, so much of what the audience is reading is coming from his facial expressions, from his movements, and the atmosphere that he creates.  I’m curious if that was intentional, to concentrate more on the close-ups of his reactions to the various crazy situations that are happening to him?
 
PNr:  That is a very accurate observation.  Especially with finance as the subject matter, it can be quite difficult to explain all these financial terms, and because you can’t actually explain in the film what these terms are, I think in an effort to make it easier for the viewer to understand through the emotions and the gestures of the characters.
 
For example, you see whether we have a character who is clicking {a computer mouse} with precision, or whether he is clicking very furiously; you are able to instinctively realise what kind of situation this is.  If it’s a dangerous situation, or if it’s a good situation where a person is making money; you are able to instinctively go along with the journey, so to speak. 
 
I don’t know if that came through, but hopefully that was an effective method to have that come across easily, without having to explain all these terms that we had to do.
 
LMD:  You worked behind the scenes in the film industry for a long time.  What was it like for you to become the captain of your own ship?
 
PNr:  I will say the biggest difference would be the sense of responsibility.  Of course, doing assistant directing in the past, that also comes a sense of responsibility, as well, but you are really driving your own ship as the director in a film, and you are responsible for a film as a whole.  And I think taking on that responsibility was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  I knew it was going to be difficult, but I think I was a lot more than I had anticipated.  
 
For example, in terms of just making decisions, in the past, I could just say, ‘Oh, this is what I like,’ but as a director, you have to really be able to calculate what the aftereffects of certain decisions are.  So, that was difficult, but I feel like I was able to learn how to work with that sense of responsibility, and coming out of this film, I do feel that I have come out a stronger person.
 
LMD:  Your antagonist is played by Yoo Ji-tae, who is very calm all through the film but makes everybody nervous as soon as he comes on the screen.  He has that quietly menacing vibe.  Il-hyun is very green and eager.  How did you work with those actors to have this two very opposing energies work well against each other on screen?
 
PNr:  So, to elaborate a little bit about Yoo Ji-tae’s character, The Ticket, that was my intention from the start; to be able to express a character that is not quite violent at all, but really has a powerful aura that you can’t quite grasp, and you can’t quite ignore.  For the character of Il-hyun, The Ticket is a character that has surpassed all sorts of expectations in terms of making money: So, he has the money, he has the influence, so I wanted to depict him as a sort of mentor/role model for Il-hyun, who wants to be just like that person, The Ticket.  
 
I think what actually helped in making that relationship work is that the actors, Yoo Ji-tae and Ryu Jun-yeol, they actually have that similar dynamic going on already; because Yoo Ji-tae being an actor whose career has already spanned over 20 years, and Ryu Jun-yeol, before starting his own work, he had studied Yoo Ji-tae’s performances.  He had grown up wanting to learn from his performances, as well.  So, I think in that sense, that relationship definitely help in terms of specifically working with the relationship on set.
 
LMD:  This is your first feature, but you are not new to filmmaking, having been the assistant director on THE UNJUST, THE BERLIN FILE, and MAN IN LOVE.  Two of those movies are directed by festival friend, Ryu Seung-wan.  What did you gain from those experiences on those films that helped you achieve this film?
 
PNr:  So, for example, Man In Love, we could categorise that as a melodrama; The Berlin File and The Unjust, there’s a lot of action, there’s a lot of powerful stuff going on there.  It’s interesting working with different genres; but I feel like all the films that I have worked on as an assistant director, there’s a lot of physical action that is going on, yes, but I do feel there’s a lot of emotional intensity, as well, that is permeated throughout the films. 
 
So, I think that’s what it carried over to this film, Money; where, in Money, you don’t actually see any physical violence, per se.  I think I was more focused on really gathering that emotional intensity and expressing the intensity of emotions, and the change of emotions.  
 
What I learned from assistant directing, regardless of genre, or subject matter, would be just how to be a good collaborator on the set.  That would be the most important thing I learned:  How to work well with cast and crew.  How to be a good crew member.  How to work with people.  How to work diligently.  I think that’s what I learned, and I think that’s something that I naturally was able to embody through being on set.  
 
This interview is cross-posted on my own site, The Diva Review. Please enjoy additional content, including exclusive photos there.
 
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Korean CinemaNew York Asian Film FestivalNYAFFPark Noo-riRyu Jun-yeolYoo Ji-tae

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