Director: E.J. Yong
Starring: Lee Ha-nui, Yoon Yeo Joong, Kang Hye-Jung
Lauded South Korean filmmaker Lee Jae Yong (romanized as E.J. Yong) has long been regarded as an unconventional director and this is particularly evident in Behind The Camera. He once stated: “Movies were the only thing I was interested in. I couldn’t imagine wearing a suit and working in a bank.”
In 2012, Lee was approached by Samsung to direct a promotional film entitled How To Fall In Love In 10 Minutes and Behind The Camera is a mockumentary which depicts the making of that project.
E.J. Yong assembles his cast from some of Korea’s biggest stars, including reluctant, veteran actress Yoon Yeo Jeong, Oldboy star Kang Hye Jung and musician Kim. C of Indie band Hot Potato, amongst others.
What Lee neglects to tell everyone but Yoon, however, is that he won’t appear on set, but direct the film instead via webcam from Los Angeles. He claims that doing so will not only land him in the record books for the first film to be directed in this novel way, but also raise his profile with the Americans.
The production is to be shot on a tight two day schedule, but predictably drags into an extra day due to endless discord on set. The plot also bears an uncanny resemblance to the real-life scenario, focusing on a director who pretends to be stuck in Hawaii to spend time with his girlfriend, while attempting to produce his film over the Internet.
The actors become suspicious Lee is tricking them about being in America and a minor mutiny develops. Sick of his demanding nature, the disloyal cast and crew subsequently plot their revenge on the director with a mean-spirited practical joke.
The hapless E.J Yong suddenly finds himself contending with all manner of petty setbacks, including a female radio presenter who requires endless retakes, an actor who improvises all the time, an actress who wants to quit due to Lee’s absence and rival filmmakers trying to usurp him.
The film has myriad humorous moments and Lee even mocks himself, when a female crew member disparages his 2006 film Dasepo Naughty Girls to director Kim Joon Ik, stating: “He wants another record besides worst-rated movie.”
One hilarious scene occurs when Lee first appears on webcam to his perplexed production staff, proclaiming: “I’ll be here the whole time, but just through a monitor. You don‘t have to worry.” Immediately afterwards the Internet signal fails, leaving the crew laughing at the ironic timing of the glitch.
Seasoned veteran Yoon Yeo Jeong single-handedly steals the show with a stream of cynical wisecracks regarding her illustrious career. Asked by a production assistant of director Hong Sang Soo if she remembers working with her, Yoon snaps back: “I remember you, I don’t have Alzheimer’s yet!”
E.J. Yong has maintained that this film was completely improvised, although this claim is implausible as many of the events are obviously staged for comedic purposes. Unconvincing proclamations aside, Behind The Camera is a blistering film industry satire which comes highly recommended.