Taekyu Kwon

Director of  The Front Line

Taekyu Kwon grew up in South Korea and initially attended Korea University to major in Radiologic Science. After his second year, he served in the Republic of Korea Army for about two years. After being discharged he decided to study abroad to learn animation and was accepted to the Computer Animation program at Ringling College of Art and Design. While learning the entire pipeline of animation in college he came to respect the story aspect of animated films and decided to become a story artist. The most significant film that has influenced him to pursue animation is the Pixar animated film Inside Out. The positive influence it gives to the audience is what he wants to achieve as a filmmaker. Taekyu hopes to communicate with the world through this medium to bring hope, love, and joy back to society.

Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
The Front Line is about a South Korean soldier, Moon, on duty at a guard post near the borderline of the Korean DMZ. One late night, he receives a radio transmission warning him of an unidentified figure spotted on the borderline. Soon, Moon is ambushed by a creature out of the dark and he manages to make a counterattack. However, Moon is struck with awe when the identity of the creature is revealed.

What are your ambitions with your project?
I hope to share with the world the story of young soldiers in this generation. Inspired by my personal experience of serving in the Republic of Korea Army, the film takes viewers on a gripping journey through the intense reality of serving on the front line. The Front Line offers a unique perspective on the human costs and sacrifices made by those who defend their countries. By exploring the experiences of soldiers of today, I wanted to take a timely and thought-provoking approach to the ongoing impact of war on individuals. Most importantly, I hope the audience enjoys the sheer experience of watching the film itself.

 Tell us somethng about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
It was a great chance to learn the cinematography of thrillers and horror movies through this film. What was pleasantly surprising was how I had to keep the camera close to the character most of the time in order to not lose the suspenseful moments while carrying out the narrative.


 For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
First, I want to send my regards to all the soldiers of today’s generation for their service and putting their lives on the line. Also, I want to bring awareness to the normal audience of the ongoing wars happening today and what impact it can have on individuals.

 Why should distributors buy your film?
The audience can go on an entertaining ride watching this film where they can feel suspense to the full extent. It is quite rare that an animated short film can achieve this. So, I think it stands out as a piece that can bring out that experience while being so short. Otherwise, it can raise awareness of the ongoing wars and individual soldiers who are at service.

 How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
My work is specific to my personal experience in the military. It is mandatory for most men in South Korea to serve in the army because of the unsettled war between the two Koreas. During the service, many times I would question myself “Why am I here?”, and “Would I be able to shoot a real person when I see an enemy?” There was no question being on duty because I was taught and told to be there. But why? – This is how I started this film.

Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
Animation was a big part of my childhood. Not only was I entertained by many animated films, but I was also influenced by it in a positive way. Even as a grownup animation gives me hope, love, and joy in life and I hope the films I make do the same for others.

 Who is your role model?
My role model is Pete Docter. His films have always influenced me to break out of my shell and look at life in a different way. I follow his philosophy as a filmmaker of faith and want to make films that can influence others in the same way.

 Which movies are your favorites? Why?
My favorite animated films are Inside Out and Soul mainly because of the story they tell. I also enjoy watching Tarantino and Waititi films because the story unravels before you without forcing it and you can never expect what will happen next.

 Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
Live action films, Animated films, TV series

 Which topics interest you the most?
Recently, I am into films that deal with how human relationships bond.

 What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
I would say completing my short film The Front Line is the greatest achievement in my career. I always forget to recognize myself for finishing an animated film that took nearly two years from story building to final rendering.

 What do you consider most important about filming?
At this point, I believe the most important part of filmmaking is not to lose the passion and motivation that you started with. Filmmaking can take years and the nature of making an animated film just makes you not want to watch it anymore after watching it too many times. But reminding yourself why you even started it in the first place and the emotional support of friends and family can help you reach the finish line.

 Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
I think matching the camera distance to the emotional distance that the audience is feeling about the character in each shot is the most important technique of shooting. Shooting from a distance can give room for the viewers to be observers of what’s happening while shooting the camera more directly at and closer to a character allows them to put themselves in the character’s shoes.

  How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
I consider it a good thing that there are a great variety of films being made today. But that also means a bigger audience. I think many times films end up mediocre trying to satisfy everyone but staying true to what the filmmakers want to make can make the films more universal.

 What can disappoint you in a movie?
Narrative has always been the most important aspect of a movie for me. No matter how visually pleasing it is or how crazy the action gets, if the story is not there, I would be disappointed in the movie. However, after completing my own film, I came to appreciate more of how music and visuals can support a movie to taking it as far as bridging the gaps and filling the holes in a story.  

 Who supports you in your film career?
My family and friends are the biggest fans and supporters of my work and are excited for what is more to come.

 What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
Viewers of my film tell me that it was a breathtaking experience and that they enjoyed how acting, lighting, editing, and music plays well altogether to achieve that. Of course, many questions are brought up about what happened in the end, but I think that it brings more attention to the message that comes after.

 Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
I have just finished my film and am sending it to all the festivals, so I am really looking forward to visiting them in the near future.

 What are your future plans in filmmaking career?
While learning the entire pipeline of animation in college I came to respect the story aspect of animated films and decided to become a story artist. I hope to communicate with the world through this medium and have a chance to direct an animated movie in the future.