Lee Ha Jun
AS: What do you do when you first get a script?
LHJ: What I do first after receiving a script is research- I go through books at bookstores, libraries, the internet, research papers. I figure out the characters of the film and this helps me to design the environment. For instance, Ki-woo (the poor son in Parasite) sleeps on a couch in the semi-basement apartment without his own room, and Yeon-kyo (the rich wife) has a big shelf with expensive dishes in her kitchen. Those choices are all influenced by their characters.
AS: Do you use other movies for reference?
LHJ: Of course. I try to watch as many films as I can that have a similar tone and manner. I figure out what is good to take and use and what not to take. There is no library as great as other films.
AS: Do you do a lot of your own sketching and drawing for your movies? Or do you have a set designer who does all the sketches?
LHJ: I sketch the basic idea myself. When I explain details to the designers, I draw. Before we had such advanced computer applications, we drew from the beginning to the end of the process. Nowadays everything is a fight against time. We often use 3D programs as the sets are developed but we do not have a concept designer in my art team. All of us can handle 3D programs and use Photoshop. For Parasite we designed the sets in 3D and made sketches based on those models.
AS: In addition to the 3D computer models did you also build physical scale models?
LHJ: We only used 3D programs when we designed. But there was one more procedure that we used while in pre-production for Parasite.
Normally during preproduction director Bong will go to the locations often. But for Parasite, we built all the main sets. Since they didn’t already exist in reality, we needed to provide him the something that he could use to visualize the locations during prep. Based on the 3D designs and renderings my team created, the visual effects team made a 3D virtual environment that, when using a keyboard like a game, one could wander around inside the houses. It was a totally new experience for us too.
AS: How involved are you with visual effects on your movies?
LHJ: Basically the concept art and 3D models that my team generates becomes a blueprint for post CGI. The work of the visual effect team should be based on the content of the production design team. The mountain in the background of the rich house’s garden and the neighborhood background for the poor family’s apartment were shot separately and were later composited during post production. Our team views the results and discusses any fine tuning that might be needed.