Life, Once Again! - Chapter 313
“The atmosphere is not looking good.”
It was just as he said. The atmosphere at the drama set was rock-bottom. Although the shoot was continuing, it was unknown when a battle would erupt out.
The dispute between the camera director and the producer started from the first shoot. Two weeks ago, they were at the point where it made people worry that the drama might end just like that. Although they avoided the worst case scenario thanks to someone’s advice, they were still glaring at each other whenever the opportunity occurred.
When she thought about it, TV media was a happy world covered with lies. The people in the camera frame were all happy with each other, but the moment the camera turned off, they just shut themselves up and glared at each other. Chaerim thought that such was TV media after looking at two people, that were portrayed as being on good terms on a TV show she watched before, shouting at each other off camera. It was a world where stubborn experts were everywhere. Of course, she was also one of them.
“But are you alright, noona?”
“I’m fine. But can you stay quiet? I’m feeling a little dizzy right now.”
After shutting Jiseok up, Chaerim closed her eyes. She was in a horrible condition today. Sharp gazes were hitting her from all around. Although annoyance was surging within her, she couldn’t express that out loud. After all, she was causing all the NG scenes here.
It was clear that today was just a bad day for her. First, there was the chatterbox, and then she started committing mistakes everywhere during the shoot. The producer from the TV station encouraged her saying that she shouldn’t be nervous, while the staff’s gaze towards her was incredibly hostile. The short break was about to end soon. She would have to stand in front of the camera again. She had no time to worry about things like committing another mistake. She had to get an okay sign this time.
“Let’s resume shooting.”
Chaerim tapped on her cheeks as she stood up. The minor role characters were all smiling at her saying that it was okay, but she thought that they would be insulting her on the inside. They were probably thinking something along the lines of ‘to think that someone like her is the main character’ or something like that. She couldn’t accept such a judgement. She had to not make a mistake this time.
Actually, the gazes of the staff and the minor characters didn’t matter at all. The problem was with the students that were watching from afar. Chaerim decided not to go on the internet tonight. Although the students were restricted from taking photos, there was no way to stop them from taking pictures from afar. After all, the shooting location was something they were borrowing. She thought about the girls that would laugh at her while looking at her making so many mistakes. It was obvious that they would write things like ‘I saw Chaerim today and she’s god awful at acting’ or things like that. Although she had seen numerous malicious comments on the internet during the past two years, reading them still made her heart thump from nervousness. Her stomach started aching and she started sweating coldly. She used to be extremely sensitive about such things to the point that she took medicine.
She didn’t want her acting skill controversy that she put out with all of her effort to surface again.
“Good. Don’t get nervous. Stand by, and cue.”
The director spoke while clenching his fist.
* * *
It was a series of confusion for Maru from the moment he received a call from a number he didn’t know. The one that called was someone with the title ‘liaising writer’. He felt that the voice was familiar, and then remembered the woman with the red cone during the drama. Before he even asked what happened, she asked if he could come to Sangam High School immediately. No, she was saying as though he had to be here. He asked what happened once again, and only then did the liaising writer reply to him that they needed a replacement actor because a problem had occurred.
-Please come immediately.
The current time was 3:21. He was in the middle of practicing the play with his club since today was extracurricular activities day. They were about to put an end to practice since Jiyoon had an appointment with her family, so there was no problem with going there.
“Did an accident happen? It’s not like someone would suddenly be unable to act.”
-Something like that. We originally intended to call someone else because we were in a hurry, but some of the staff here including the camera director recommended you. This is an opportunity for you. You’d be a minor character rather than an extra like before.
“Then do I get a guarantee as well?”
Since this was an important question, he asked immediately. The writer became silent. Following that, a flabbergasted voice came out from the other side.
-Is money important right now? I’m telling you this is an opportunity.
“I’m saying it because it’s not up to me. If there’s monetary gain, I have to talk about it with my agency, don’t I? That’s how it works.”
-You have an agency?
“JA Production. I get that it’s an opportunity, but things might become problematic if I accept without consulting them first. What are you going to do?”
-JA? You really belong to that place? Phew, wait a moment. Also, give me your manager’s phone number.
She hung up. Maru wondered what happened on the set. From how they were looking for actors, it didn’t seem like the drama stopped entirely. Since they sounded urgent, he sent the woman a message first. It sounded like he had some lines from what she said. Meaning, that this role required prior preparation to do. They were looking for a person that could urgently play such a role. Maru wondered if an accident happened.
“What is it?”
Daemyung asked as he got ready to leave the classroom. Maru explained to him briefly.
“That sounds like a good thing, but it does sound a little disturbing,” Daemyung spoke with a worried expression.
“I think so too.”
“What are you going to do then? We’re planning to go to a meat buffet without Jiyoon.”
“You can go by yourselves for now. I’ll message you if I think I can’t go.”
After separating from the rest of the members, Maru first went to the bus stop. He sat down on the chair and looked at his phone. He spent about five minutes doing that when he got a call.
-I finished talking with your manager. Please come to Sangam High School as quickly as possible.
“But if I’m playing a minor role, don’t I have lines to do? I haven’t gotten anything though.”
-We’ll get everything sorted once you’re here so come quickly!
It felt as though she would kill someone if he went there late. A loud shout could be heard behind the urgent-sounding woman’s voice. Maru could imagine what was going on there. Since she said that she finished talking with his manager, there was no time to delay. He grabbed a taxi that was just driving past the bus stop.
“Sangam High School in Seoul, please.”
The driver’s eyes shone when he heard the word ‘Seoul’. He pressed a button on his dashboard and started driving. Maru had a look at the horse on the taximeter that was galloping gallantly. Every time the horse kicked off the ground, another 100 won was added to the fare. He messaged Daemyung in the taxi. After a moment, the entire club messaged him ‘good luck’. They were thankful people.
The taxi driver drove proficiently through roads that didn’t get jammed with traffic and thanks to that, Maru was able to arrive at the school before 5 o’clock.
He got off after getting a hand-written receipt. After meeting eyes with the security guard he saw before, he entered the school. There were students gathered around one spot on the school field. It was obvious where the drama shoot was happening.
Maru brushed past the gaps between the students. When he entered a certain range, one of the security agents told him to step back.
“I’m here for the drama shoot.”
Hearing that, the security agent called someone. The one that ran here was the liaison writer with the red cone.
Although her speech was short, Maru decided not to mind it since it looked like the situation was urgent. He quickly followed behind the writer who was running. The shoot was happening in a corner of the school field. The guy named Woomin from last time was currently supporting a girl idol wearing a ragged gym uniform. The girl had straight, long hair, as though to represent that she was an innocent young girl. Perhaps she was the Cinderella of the story. Since he only watched the episode with him in it, he didn’t know the story that well.
Woomin grabbed the heroine’s hand and spoke – ‘don’t bully her any longer’. It seems that he had the role of the prince that put the glass heels on the girl’s feet. Another male idol just laughed in disdain and turned around. That was the end of the scene.
“Producer! He’s here.”
Producer Lee nodded and approached Maru. He received a copy of the script from the staff nearby before giving it to Maru.
“There’s no time, so let’s go over the story first.”
Maru listened to the overall explanation while flipping through the script on the spot with the producer. His role was the class president that was bad at talking. This kid was forced into the position by others due to a prank. He was a quiet and shy kid but had a small sense of justice. It was a minor role yet there was quite a lot of detail.
In the scene he had to act in, he was the one that interfered when one of the main girls looked down on another student and was scolded instead. There was also a scene where he got pushed. He had to fall down again. It seemed that he was somewhat entangled with this whole falling character.
“We’re going to go to the classroom and shoot right now, so get ready for that.”
He had a look at the script again. His lines were quite long. He had to reply to the main girl’s every line. There were some lines where he had to say multiple sentences.
“Can you do it? We’ve already delayed it once, so it will be quite troublesome if you can't do it.”
“Time is money after all. I’ll do it.”
Producer Lee patted his shoulder heavily before leaving. Following that, camera director Kim Jangsoo approached him. He looked much brighter than last time. Perhaps his salary problem was solved.
“Thanks to you, we all got paid. We had to beg to get two months' worth of payment, but that’s still good.”
“That’s good. You should settle with them to get paid the rest of the amount.”
“We should. Rather than that, you know that I put you here before it went over to someone else, right? That pays the debt back somewhat, okay? So do it well. I’ll frame you well.”
The staff also cheered him on. This was what was good about getting close to the staff members. Business was like that as well. Every single problem came down to manpower. Having a good set of relationsh.i.p.s with other people would lead to success, otherwise, it would be very difficult to do anything. When Maru was young, he disdained that notion thinking that it was just dirty corruption, and didn’t like it that much even after growing up. However, he had to acknowledge that everything came down to people in the end.
‘If you can’t go against the flow of the system, you can only ride it.’
Although he had stolen a spot that was probably meant for someone else, he didn’t have a guilty conscience about it. He only felt a little sorry for the person whose opportunity was taken away. He was no saint. He was just one of the ordinary folks that would grab any opportunity that came by. He couldn’t be a boat that went against the waves and capsized. If he wanted to, he had to become a massive cruise ship first.
Maru squinted and looked at the script. His concentration and memorization ability when it came to learning lines was incredible even when he thought about it, so he learned those lines soon. What was necessary now was to grab ahold of the character’s emotions. He projected the image of the class president that producer Lee talked about in his mind. It was a stereotypical character, and precisely because of that, it was more difficult to act out. What he had to watch out for was that the character was shy, and the fact that he went against the main girl despite that. He could picture the scene in his mind somewhat. It was something like the temporary deviation from life from the perspective of an ordinary civilian.
He raised his head up when he felt a hand smashing his back. There was an unexpected face here. It was Jiseok. Looking at his ever-smiling face, he felt energy draining away from him. This was the first time they met after shooting the movie. Maru hadn’t called him since then, and that was because Jiseok called him all the time. If phone calls counted as ‘meeting’, he ‘met’ Jiseok just three days ago.
“Why are you here?”
“That’s what I want to ask you.”
“Me? A replacement.”
“I’m here as an extra. It looks like the tie-in sale worked well.”
“Tie-in sale, you say?”
Hearing that question, Jiseok pointed at the short-haired girl idol that was walking in the distance. Maru had seen her last time. She was the girl that became slightly annoyed when Woojoo made a mistake.
“We belong to the same company. Thanks to that, I got a role here.”
Maru had heard about this before. Tie-in sales. There was no better mechanism than this to get new actors’ faces known. There was no advertis.e.m.e.nt better than having him stand next to a star belonging to the same company.
“But why is a spot suddenly empty? Do you know anything about it?”
“Oh, that?” Jiseok bitterly smiled.
He lowered his voice and started explaining what happened.
“You see, Chaerim-noona….”
“You don’t know who Chaerim-noona is? The youngest member of BLUE and the main vocalist of the group.”
“I don’t know her.”
“…The noona from the same company I talked about earlier.”
Maru looked at the girl with the short haircut again. So her name was Chaerim.
“I want to know what that ‘something’ is. I’m lacking understanding here.”
“Haa, the thing is, Chaerim-noona kept making mistakes during the morning to the point that there wasn’t a single good take. Everyone seemed extremely annoyed, but they couldn’t say anything to her thanks to the producer that came from the TV station, the director included. After a while, the anger exploded on the guy that was Chaerim-noona’s counterpart in acting. He did look pitiful though. He seemed older than us, but he walked out crying. Even I would have been like that due to frustration. The producer here didn’t say much, but the producer from the TV station caused a huge fuss about it.”
“So he ran mid way?”
“A minor character did? A pro who signed a contract?”
“It was no joke.”
“I would’ve been even more scared about the consequences of leaving and would’ve never left. What if the production company decided to sue him for damages?”
“Not all people think like you, Maru. Anyway, if you’re here to replace him, I guess you’re the class president?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Will you be fine? There seems to be quite a lot of lines.”
“For now, I’ve memorized the lines.”
“I’ve memorized the lines.”
“…Even though you just read the script for a brief moment as you walked here?”
“I’m a bit smart, you see.”
“Wow. Did you really memorize it all?”
Maru asked Jiseok to help him out with practicing the lines. He wanted to look at the general flow as he walked to the classroom. He did his lines and Jiseok said the rest.
“So you weren’t joking when you said you memorized them.”
“You don’t have anything to do, right now, do you?”
“Then why don’t you help me out before the shoot starts?”
“Alright. But treat me to a meal later.”
“…But can I ask you just one thing?”
Jiseok looked down. He looked very awkward since he always looked like an excited puppy running across the snow. Maru could guess what he was about to ask. After taking in a deep breath, he spoke,
“If you want to know about Geunseok, he’s doing well. Some things happened, but from what I’ve heard, he’s stable now. You should try calling him if you have the time. He should probably pick up.”
He brightened up visibly. The world worked in strange ways considering how someone like him had a friend. Maru looked at the script as he walked. There wasn’t much time.
 Taximeters in Korean taxis used to have a little horse icon that ran when the taxi was driving.