So Yong Kim is a director who’s known for making rather intimate and quiet indie films that focus on the human condition.
Such is the case for her latest film, which marks her fourth outing behind the camera. It’s called “Lovesong” and it’s about two friends whose relationship is transformed when they go on a road trip. The film recently made its L.A. debut at the Sundance Next Festival.
The Frame’s James Kim recently spoke with the director about how she got into filmmaking, her personal inspiration behind the movie, and why she's attracted to making intimate films.
Getting into filmmaking:
I didn't really choose filmmaking as a career path, per se, I feel like it kind of chose me. My first degree was in business so I had to learn about money [laughs]. That was the requirement from my mom. She said that she would pay for my college education if I study business for four years, and she promised me that afterwards I could do whatever I wanted. So it was my ticket to freedom.
My partner, Brad [Rust Gray], was going to film school and was making his first feature. And I watched him and helped him on that film, "Salt," which was made in Iceland. I thought, I could do that, and I started to write and started to make films.
The real-life inspiration behind "Lovesong":
As I'm getting older you kind of reflect on some of the regrets you might have in your life. I also wanted to explore a love story, because to me, doing love stories are exciting and it's fun. It kind of renews your belief in life in a way.
To me, "Lovesong" is a fun story in a way. I think people might think, Wow, I wouldn't call "Lovesong" a fun, romantic story, but I wanted to go into relationships between friends: What is that boundary, and when does that get muddied, and how do you get through that so that you could still be friends? I think those kinds of boundaries are very difficult to navigate, especially when you're young.
I had a relationship in college with a best friend that was kind of muddy and [I] didn't know where it could go.
Bringing her personal life into filmmaking:
Filmmaking is also about learning about myself and trying to understand more deeply. I think that's just part of our existence.
I was born in South Korea and I grew up on a farm with our grandparents. I think just growing up with them in the fields and orchards made me very melancholic at an early age. But my family immigrated to Los Angeles when I was 11, so I'm also a product of Los Angeles. I feel like I'm trying to capture a certain element of that melancholia in my films.
I think intimacy is the key that I try to create between the viewer and my characters because I think that's the most important aspect of storytelling in film.