Writer/director So Yong Kim has repeatedly infused her personal experiences into her films. She explains how she uses her vulnerabilities and fears to not only craft a script and create compelling characters, but also to collaborate with her cinematographer to extract images from her imagination.

Key Insights

  • Find the story that compels you, the story that you haven’t seen but would like to see.
  • When creating characters, explore what makes them compelling. They can be relatable, personally connected to you, unlikeable, terrifying to write, etc. Whatever the reason, make sure you have the capacity to fully explore them.  
  • Writing is a process that demands you to be intimate with your characters. One of the difficult parts of the process requires you to take a step back to evaluate and make choices about what will happen with your characters. 
  • Communicating with your director of photography can be intimidating. Especially when you’re first starting out, find a collaborator who you trust and feel will go through the journey of discovery with you.  
  • Emotional truths live in the spaces that are scary to explore. Take risks and use your unique point of view to find the special qualities of your work.

So Yong Kim is an award-winning Korean American filmmaker. Kim received the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her debut feature, IN BETWEEN DAYS. Her critically acclaimed second feature TREELESS MOUNTAIN, filmed in Kim's hometown in South Korea, follows the intimate story of two young girls who are abandoned by their mother and must find their own resilience to continue. Kim's third feature, FOR ELLEN, starring Paul Dano and Jon Heder, is often cited as Dano's best work. It premiered at Sundance and was theatrically released by Tribeca Films in 2012. In 2014, Kim released SPRK AND LIGHTS, a short film starring Riley Keough and commissioned by fashion house Miu Miu as part of their ongoing series Women’s Tales. Kim premiered her fourth feature LOVESONG at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival starring Jena Malone and Riley Keough. more...

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