Saturday, February 13, 2010

Filming of "The Slave Hunters" Oh Ji-ho, Lee Da-hae and Jang Hyuk

On a cold winter day in January, director Kwak Jung-hwan of KBS TV series “The
Slave Hunters” was at Unju Temple in the South Jeolla Province. It is the place,
mentioned in the tenth episode, which Dae-gil (played by Jang Hyuk) guessed
correctly right away when told Tae-ha (Oh Ji-ho) went to where a statue of
Buddha lies on its back facing the sky. “There is a statue of Buddha laid on the
ground and facing the sky in the Unju Temple. It is said to contain the
unfulfilled hopes of the commoners. I couldn’t not go to shoot there after
hearing that story,” Kwak explained of his reason in choosing the temple as a
location which would also symbolize Tae-ha’s yet-to-be opened world and the
dream of the slaves.

But Unju Temple does not just have symbolic meaning
for “Hunters.” It is also where many of the main characters gather after a large
number of supporting actors are killed off the show in the ninth and tenth
episodes. Tae-ha holds the baby king in one hand as he meets his old friends and
Dae-gil’s clan gathers at Unju too. About five scenes were shot at the Unju
Temple this day. And each scene focused more on the meeting and the parting of
the characters rather than its usual spectacular action. But the atmosphere on
set was as somber and sincere as the emotions involved in the meeting and

“Turn around as soon as you take a step forward,” Kwak
instructs Tae-ha, played by Oh Ji-ho. He then explained, “We didn’t rush in the
beginning because we started shooting the first few episodes several months ago
but these days, it’s all about time management.” But once he goes into shoot, he
digs into the details so insistently that it seems as if he forgets all about
time. He does not miss a single thing, down to the smallest movement a character
makes to the most trivial historical fact. To Kim Ha-eun playing the role of
Sul-hwa, he will direct her to “breathe harder after running here.” And after
receiving confirmation that “in the past, nobody entered the main temple
building through the central door other than the chief monk,” Kwak reflected
this fact into the scene where a boy monk greets Dae-gil who is chasing Tae-ha.
Add just a little exaggeration, it could be said that the amount of Kwak’s
exercise almost equalled that of Dae-gil and Tae-ha got from shooting their
actions scenes. He endlessly checked the monitor, went back onto the set,
checked everything, made orders, and then monitored again.

Not a single loud noise comes from the set of “Hunters” but that atmosphere on set is also the atmosphere amongst the actors. The Chuno clan, composed of Jang Hyuk, Kim Ji-suk and Han Jung-soo, sat around ahead of going into shoot to quietly discuss
their scene while Oh Ji-ho and Lee Da-hae focused on their own acting and did
not speak a single word to each other. The moment they finally smiled and talked
to each other was when Oh Ji-ho finished shooting his scene. “You’re leaving
before I am because you’re done? That’s an offense!” Lee jokingly said to Oh.

Shooting began at 8 a.m. in the morning but the clock was heading toward
8 p.m. But the crew of “Hunters” had been shooting a single scene since later
afternoon — the moment when Dae-gil breaks down. It will be a scene in the 12th
episode where Dae-gil’s emotions explode like they have never done before during
the show’s run so far. And hence it was when director Kwak and Jang Hyuk’s
energy also collided at its highest point. Ahead of going into shoot, Jang Hyuk
watched scenes him and Hae-won’s romantic scenes to focus on his emotions. And
Kwak continued to repeatedly shoot the scene from various angles — a full shot,
close-up shot, with the Jimmy Jib, then on-the-move. The staff moved swiftly,
operating every piece of equipment in time with Kwak’s orders. Jang Hyuk repeats
crying, laughing, shouting and gazing up into the sky. Only a few minutes of
this hours-long shoot will go on air. But Kwa, Jang Hyuk and the staff continue
to concentrate, knowing the importance of this scene. Like the slave being
chased by a slave hunter, the set of “Hunters” is short on time. But everyone
was trying everything they could do produce the best result.

Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk
Editor : Jessica Kim, Jang Kyung-Jin


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