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Jung-won Shin (Director) - Chaw

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Chaw is Jung-won Shin's second movie, his first being 2004's Sisily 2km, and follows the residents of a sleepy Korean village as they fight for their lives against a strange wild creature. Darren Rea caught up with Jung-won Shin as Chaw was released on DVD...

Darren Rea: The opening few acts of the film reminded me very much of Jaws. How inspirational was Jaws on Chaw?

Jung-won Shin: Since I watched it when I was a child, I hadn’t thought of it when writing the script. But I did find similarities when I watched it again afterwards. Perhaps films like JAWS had been in my subconsciousness influencing my film.

DR: There were elements of Predator in there too. Which other movies would you say  were inspirational for Chaw?

Interview imageJS: There would be too many to name.

Films such as the Alien series and various films in other genres could have influenced my work.

There are many scenes which I specifically felt that movie fans would enjoy. If possible, I could have shown more.

Hope I can in my next project.

DR: You don't actually see the creature in Chaw until about an hour into the movie in order to build the suspense of what it looks like. Where you surprised to see that the movie posters featured the creature quite prominently?

JS: If the creature was too frequently shown in the film, it would just be another character. Not revealing too much of the creature was inevitable to build up suspense, but it wasn’t my intention to hide that this is a creature film.

DR: Do you think it's becoming more and more difficult to find ways to shock audiences? There are so many horror films out there, do you think that it's hard to come up with new and interesting angles to scare the audience?

Interview imageJS: Yes. There are numerous technical methods that are now accepted as part of film language and the ever craving audiences want stronger thrills. And we are at our limit. So, it’s vital to find elements other than techniques to overcome this.

DR: Chaw has a lot of dark comedy. How difficult was it to balance the comedy and horror elements? Is it hard to get the mix right in order to keep the audience on their toes?

JS: If film is a miniature version of life, people would laugh at least a couple of times each day. Based on my experience, I find that people tend to laugh instinctively even when faced with critical situations. Despite the terrors, tragedies, throughout history, humour is an essential element that cannot be omitted. And it will be the same for any kind of film genres.

DR: How hard is it to make a movie in South Korea at present? And how has the industry changed since you started working in it?

JS: Film has become an industry after I came into this business. While a few master filmmakers and successful production companies produce film in a manual labour fashion receive indirect Hollywood and conglomerate capitals, Korean films seem to lose their diversities.

DR: When you set out making a movie like Chaw do you direct it for a South Korean market, or do you direct it for a global audience? Do you think that the dark humour and horror elements are pretty universal - that a global audience will  get just the same out of Chaw as a South Korean audience would?

JS: I assumed that it would be less common of a film style for the Korean audiences. I felt that Korean audiences are ready to enjoy films that goes out of the genre boundaries and that this is the right moment.

DR: If a movie were to be made about your life, who would play you and why?

Interview imageJS: I would say the actor Choi Min-sik who’s famous for his performance in Old Boy. My wife and I were watching the film Chihwaseon (aka Strokes of File) directed by IM Kwon-taek when she mentioned that Choi Min-sik in the film sitting on the roof heavily drunk and living a free life of an artist was exactly the same as me.

DR: Of all the characters in Chaw, which would you say is the most like you?

JS: Each character holds a little bit of myself that only I can notice. But in terms of appearances, it would be the professional hunter Baek.

DR: What are you working on next?

JS: I’m unable to say at the moment, but it’ll be an extension of what I’ve been worked on so far. It’ll hopefully be a completion of my filmmaking, experiments, and experience. And after my next project, there will probably be another new direction for me to take.

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With thanks to Candy Vincent-Smith at Optimum Releasing

Chaw is available on DVD from Optimum Home Entertainment from 01 March 2010.

Click here to buy this Chaw on DVD for £9.98 (RRP: £15.99)

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