Can you introduce yourself and your project as well as tell us how it all came together?
I am Minjoo Kim. I am a South Korean animator specialising in 2D - for example, 2D digital and traditional (hand-drawn), stop-motion, rostrum and mixed-media. I normally go for simplistic style of animation and drawings, but I love and am capable of doing different or more sophisticated styles too – I have always been keen on trying new styles and methods.
My film Positivme, is a series of three faux advertisement animations introducing a futuristic product called, Positivme; it enables us to change our personalities to what we want, even if it means changing ourselves. It is a short 2D mixed-media screen-based animation. I used stop-motion and live-action film for the background, and 2D digital for the rest of the film, such as animating characters.
My inspiration for the concept of this film came from something less related to personality, but more inspiration from fashion trends. For instance, I was looking through the clothing on the mannequins in many fashion stores, especially in fast fashion stores. I was shocked and intrigued at how it changed so quickly - within a week, the whole trend of clothing was different. I then thought, what if something unchangeable becomes easily changeable, and therefore affects us and the society?
Then, I immediately thought of personality. Though personality can be changed, for people to change themselves, they need to go through many experiences, times and possibly have the motivation or significant incidents. Besides, personality is something that we all relate to yet misunderstood since disagreement with others can come from our differing personality, which could make us frustrated. Furthermore, sometimes, we get frustrated with ourselves because of the negative sides of our personality. Therefore, I imagined what if there is a product that allows changing our inner self easily and quickly (for example, swapping negative parts of ourselves to something more desirable) to what we wanted to become - as easily as changing our clothes to what we wanted to wear? And if such a product existed, what kind of world would we see?
In my opinion, I would vision a rather unsettling world as we would be becoming someone that we are not. Moreover, I would assume that our negative personalities would not be desired by society. Only the positive aspects of personality would become popular and accepted. Eventually, everyone will become similar - after all, the negative sides of our personality are part of our identity as well.
Initially, I wanted to create a short narrative intro animation with the main character about what would happen to our world if such a product like Positivme becomes mainstream and how the world would look like. Nevertheless, I thought maybe introducing the product in an advertisement form would be more impactful; I would be promoting this controversial product, which would make the audience think and question it.
How did you get involved in film?
Since my childhood, I always enjoyed watching animations on TV and in the cinema. I was awed by the ideas from their stories, how they executed them, and how they designed characters. I spent most of my free time drawing my own characters and comic strips to tell and develop my stories and concepts.
When I studied and specialised in animation during my university year, I felt that I belonged to the animation industry. Because in my personal experience, animation was the only field that encouraged and helped me develop character design skills and my stories that I created since I was young. I learnt so much about the animation industry, different roles and artistic skills and styles; I enjoyed every second of it. Hence, that led me to become an animator, hoping to become an animator director one day and publicly show my animated stories to the audience.
For Positivme, it was a personal solo project from my undergraduate study. I solely directed, produced the film and soundtrack (apart from the main theme song from Bensound.com), animated with an animator assistant Leo (Shuaikang) Li. The voice-over was done by Ze Ryž. For this project, we had to make between one to two minutes of animation with freedom of the topic and media.
Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?
If it is a team production, I would meet up with all team members, assemble our schedules, and negotiate them. Also, we would divide the roles evenly. Therefore, we would make a unison schedule that everyone has agreed upon.
Every once in two weeks, we would have meetings to review and examine the progress, performances, issues and outcomes and ensure that the production is on schedule and stick to it.
If it is a solo production, like Positivme, I would assess all the roles that need for the production and set myself deadlines: divide them evenly for the research, experiment, animating then final video editing within the given time. Then, just like the team production, I stick to it as well.
How long did it take to research and make your film?
It took me between two to three months to do the research and experiments such as test animations and then another three months to complete it. In total, it took me six months to complete it.
What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a film director?
If anyone asks me the most important quality of a film director, I would say, 'never give up'. No matter what challenges you face, you have to have the endurance and responsibility to ensure that the project continues and meets the final outcome. Moreover, directors would normally have other team members who trust and rely on you. Not only losing the will to carry on with the work would cause an unfavourable situation to the directors but also other members who have been working with. Director needs to have strong leadership, and strong leaders do not give up. There can be failures. However, I personally believe that it is up to you to achieve your desired goal by keep pushing yourself, despite the difficulties. Also, if you give up on your film, who will believe you and your work?
What were your key challenges in filmmaking?
To find the best design to execute my concept and story and figure out which feedback from others to listen to. I personally think executing the visual to convey the concept most effectively is harder than initiating ideas. To me, concept and ideas can be firmly developed and finalised with thorough planning and research. Natheless, finding the ideal design that speaks the concept is more challenging because you have to do many experiments and tests. Then, you have to negotiate with others’ subjective opinions and your preference.
While studying in the university and doing Positivme, I gathered numerous feedback from my tutors and peers with my character design and story flow. Nonetheless, at the same time, there were some of the designs and ideas I wanted to keep regardless of what they said. It was a clash between my preference and others’ opinions. Based on my experience, the only way to resolve this was to gather all the feedback, compare them with my project and direction, filter the irrelevant, and take the useful ones. Still, if there are some designs or ideas that you feel strongly about, then stick to yourself and pursue them; after all, it is your work.
An actor is being unprofessional. How do you manage the situation?
I would pull them aside discretely and ensure they feel comfortable with the role. Then I would offer them my guidance and support. However, I would also give them a forewarning that professionalism is necessary in this industry.
What is the role of film festivals?
I would say, showing and introducing various films and their ideas and publicising the new filmmakers. I usually gain insight into other filmmakers’ ideas with their great films while introducing my work to the public through film festivals.
Describe a time when you made a mistake in your duties. How did you rectify it?
I misguided the task to my other teammate from one of the group projects. My teammate misinterpreted the guideline for animating a specific character because I did not explain it properly. Before I would speak to her, I analysed my mistakes and gave myself a moment to process them and go through the guidelines for animation and emails between my teammate and I. After the introspection, once I gathered and sorted out all of my thoughts together, I then apologised for misinforming and discussed tasks and roles with her.
I learned that, especially in the film and animation industries, it is always best to discuss and communicate with your team whenever there is a problem rather than criticising.
What is the future of film?
I do not think I am the most appropriate person to ask about the future of film as I am still learning about it. However, I will do my best to answer it as much as possible from my knowledge and experience.
In my opinion, since social media and technology in art is continually developing, soon more people would have more access to make films, even for some who might not necessarily have the artistic background or career. From 2010 to 2020, social media platforms, such as Instagram, have been blooming. Thus, I had witnessed many of my friends, who had not studied art for their highest degree or never done art before, started doing art and filmmaking and posting the artwork to their social media accounts. Some of them even created a separate account purely for artwork. Therefore, they would show interest in art by sharing their work with others.
Furthermore, nowadays, art programmes on computer and apps are so accessible, high-quality and user-friendly, people who never had any experience with art or filmmaking would produce high standard work easier than before.
Moreover, I think the film would become more personal to us. Since VR and AR have been developing further, rather than having the shared experience in the cinema, TV, computer and phone screens with your family and friends, VR especially, would separate us to an individual viewer, as each of us would wear the individual VR set. Maybe, AR could have more of the shared experience since it is more of an interactive experience of a real-world environment. I would assume then you can have AR film with you and others to interact within the same environment.
While the filmmaking and format of the film could be changing, unless some will originate the new stylistic trends, I think the classical, core techniques and the basis for film styles and theories would remain up to a certain degree; they could be referenced and re-used.
What has been your favourite film to make and why?
Positivme. This project was from one of my stories that I created, aspiring to broadcast it on streaming services or TV channels as an animated serial one day. It is also unforgettable because I won awards and was selected for the film festivals, which I felt rewarded and grateful. Not only was Positivme idea based purely on my imagination, but also, I learned and had the most experience of what it is like to be a filmmaker. Positivme expanded my design skill, especially for characters. Thanks to my tutors and peers, I was able to get out of my comfort zone and explore more. Also, I became more organised, practical and learnt how to deal with challenges better since I was in charge of everything - I was my own leader. I did not have any team members to rely on as it was a solo project, so I had to learn to deal with it myself.
What has the audience reaction been like?
There were two reactions: one being creeped out by the product but the other being convinced by it. Many said that the children and mother scene was the freakiest and most memorable. I found it fascinating that some people were persuaded by Positivme – based on a real quote, some said that if this product were real, they would get it. This questioned me about our current society; does this mean that a number of people are not so satisfied with themselves like personality, possibly because of the social norms or pressurising people to become a better person or have the desired personality from our society?
On the other hand, I also received interesting feedback from the people who felt uncomfortable. One of them told me that after watching my animation, they questioned the optimum personality, what and how it would be defined. Besides, they also said, would this optimum personality be changed like a trend as time progresses? I was amazed by their questions and thoughts.
Overall, I was happy with their reactions as I wanted to make the audience creeped out, think about what it implies subtly. And some unexpected reactions were so intriguing as they came up with such interesting thoughts.
Can you say something about the collaborative nature of filmmaking?
The nature of collaboration of filmmaking allows me to open up the horizon for diverse ideas from other filmmakers and artists that I would have never thought of it by myself. Since everyone has different background, knowledge and skills, it gets interesting when their varied thoughts put together into one united artwork like film – like puzzles fitting all together to make one picture. I get to learn so much from them and expand my knowledge of film and art further, which is exciting. Also, you could develop a unique and close bond with other people with who you collaborated, especially if they are like-minded or have a complementary mindset and work ethic - expanding the connection with people further.
Also, collaborating with others for filmmaking aided me in self-development. Filmmaking involves teamwork which requires responsibility and organisation. It helped me become more professional. I tried my best to be more reliable and organised as I did not want to burden others because I was not professional and efficient.
Furthermore, collaborating with others in the film/animation industry was self-discovery in my experience. Before I studied animation for my bachelor’s degree, I never thought that I had leadership. Because I was studying the subject that I wanted to, therefore, worked hard as I enjoyed so much, I gained confidence and became more vocal with my ideas and thoughts. Consequently, along with my practicality and organisation skills, I developed leadership skill as well – I discovered a new side of me.
Is there anyway to see the film?
Yes, of course! You can go to the Vimeo link, which is: https://vimeo.com/342634010. And, please feel free to visit the Positivme page from my website to watch it: https://www.minjookim101.com/positivme. I have other animation, illustration and graphic design work on my website, so you can have a look at them too. I also have an Instagram account for my artwork which is, @kimtertain_101, so please feel free to check it out! Thank you so much for selecting my work as an Honourable Mention, the interview, and reading this. I hope everyone, especially those who read this and watched my animation, is safe and well.