Understanding Filmmaking with Junga Song
Interview with Filmmaker Junga Song
Born in Korea at a time when opportunities for young girls to pursue their dreams were scarce, Junga Song moved to Canada to study film at The Toronto Film School. Her talent landed her in the post graduate program at Sheridan College where she wrote and directed several short films, documentaries, and music videos. Her short film, Love Recipe, put her on the map, screening at several major film festivals, and her first feature film Peace of Mind received accolades including the Manhattan Film Festival (2012). Her new film, The Petrichor, tells the story of Maya, a former competitive figure skater who at the age of 30 gets back on the ice to pursue her dream of competing again. A film that celebrates ice skating with magnificent performances from world class competitors, the message of pursuing dreams at any age, and despite all odds, shines through with captivating performances from Olga Korask and Alexey Serebryakov.
Coming from Korea, what movies made an early impact on you and ignited your passion for filmmaking?
Mostly Korean movies directed by Chan-wook Park and Bong Joon-ho, they definitely inspired me!
Did you have mentors who helped you pursue filmmaking?
No, I don’t have any mentors. I just follow my passion and my own path to pursue my dreams.
The Petrichor has world class ice skating performances, including Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva, what drew you to the ice?
There is a Korean Olympic Gold medalist figure skating champion, Yuna Kim. She was the first figure skating medalist in Korean history. After that, I watched figure skating intensely, it’s so beautiful, I’ve wanted to make a gorgeous figure skating movie since then.
Were there any challenges shooting the ice skating scenes?
To rent the ice rink it was very challenging as it required lots of money to rent and an expensive permit. Even if we had money to pay it, nobody wanted to rent it out for our movie because it was high hockey season. We had to cancel the scheduled ice rink shooting and wait to get the ice rink and the ice time we needed. Fortunately one private ice rink allows us to have their ice at an affordable price, but only gave it to us overnight, 7pm to 7am, in order to maintain their day business. The whole crew had to work suddenly overnight and the main actress, Olga Korsak, had to skate the highlight of the movie overnight. Not only that, the ice rink is meant for private hockey practice, so the ice was very rough and the rink was very cold. She had to skate in the freezing cold wearing only a thin dress on rough ice while delivering a highly emotional performance to music. It was very tough.
The movie champions the underdog in the vein of Rocky and The Blindside, and your main character Maya has enormous odds against her as she competes again at 30, how does your story update or celebrate the underdog theme?
As long as your heart is there, you will never lose your desire to pursue your dream and you will find a way to make your dream happen. It’s you who believe you can do it and also you who believe you’re the underdog, but when you just go for your dream, you will forget you’re the underdog and find confidence to reach your goal.
Your stars Olga Korask and Alexey Serebryakov are well-known in Russia, how did they come to be in the film and how was it working with them?
Olga Korsak is not a well-known actress in Russia, but an up and coming Canadian actress. I cast her for my previous film and while we were talking on the set, I got to know that before she became an actress, she used to be a competitive figure skater but she got injured while competing in an international competition in Calgary, so she had to stop skating. Her story made me to decide to make this skating movie. She is not only a talented and very driven actress but also, she is a great skater which makes this film authentic.
Alexey Serebryakov is extremely famous in Russia, though I didn’t know that when I started working with him. I realized his level of fame when we started to shoot, especially during the shoot because many of the Russian crew got nervous when he was around and there were Russian visitors on set, there just to see him. And his acting was extremely outstanding, so for me as a director, it was easy to work with him.
The movie has formidable women behind and in front of the camera, what did you all take away from working together, and how would you encourage women to pursue their dreams?
We had a female oriented crew as most of the key crew were female. I think because of that, the set was very warming and welcoming. Even for the overnight shoot, we had a good time, helping each other consistently with jokes. I definitely got the benefit of working with female key crew.,
I don’t think it’s much different to pursue your dream whether you’re a woman or not. If you have a dream, just keep pursuing it as long as there is heart and passion for it.
For further information, visit: https://thepetrichormovie.com