Life, Once Again! - Chapter 679
I want to do ordinary acting – Byungjae never felt that he wanted to become the main character. A decent actor who wouldn’t look out of place no matter where he was placed but was slightly lacking to lead the whole drama. That was his objective, an ‘ordinary’ actor. Those thoughts never changed throughout his time in high school when he belonged to the acting club. He was much more relaxed if he was a supporting character rather than a leading character. Your acting was okay – these words were the best compliment for Byungjae. You were the best, your acting was the best, that was once in a lifetime – these kinds of words made him rather awkward. Although he had never heard something like that before, he felt like his vision would darken if he heard those words. Byungjae simply didn’t have the confidence to endure the expectations that would be placed on him after that.
“Just do what you always did.”
Byungjae entered the set as he listened to producer Jayeon’s words. The room was small, the bed was narrow enough that a person would fall down if they moved while asleep, and the desk was a cheap one that could be assembled with ease. The space between the furniture looked like it wouldn’t even be a couple feet at best. Was a goshiwon always this small? Byungjae heard that they would start shooting in five minutes. He tried lying down on the bed for now and tried to take in the fact that this room was his residence.
The set had no ceiling. He could see lights that had been turned off up high.
“I won’t make a mistake.”
He never even thought about doing well. His objective was to digest his scenes fast so that the shoot wasn’t delayed and so he wouldn’t put any pressure on the other actors and the staff. He remembered when he first met Jayeon. Jayeon called him out when he was about to leave the audition room that didn’t have an auditioner in it. She looked at him for a while before telling him to say a few lines, so he obediently obeyed. He walked because he was told to, and he sighed because he was told to.
“You’re doing everything I’m telling you to, huh?”
After saying those words, Jayeon reached out her hand, saying that he passed the audition. After hearing that he perfectly suited the image that she was looking for, Byungjae didn’t know if he should be joyous or sad about it. Was the character that passive?
Choi Jihoon. Twenty-nine years old. He is an ordinary man who gets drafted after graduating junior college and gets discharged without any problems. After getting discharged, he is looking for employment and hears that being a civil servant is promising from the people around him. He spends the next five years in a goshiwon towards that goal. He is one of the sad youths of the times who works part time jobs in convenience stores at night and at bars on weekends.
Byungjae thought about the character he had to play. Was he similar to Choi Jihoon? Whether he looked similar in appearance to the image of the character that the director was thinking of or had similar personalities, Byungjae did not know, but when he thought about Choi Jihoon’s life, there were a lot of similarities with him. Both of them had never gone against adults or deviated from everyday life, and they just walked down the path that people told them to. After being persuaded by a relative who told him to try being an actor or a model with his decent appearance, he started acting, which was originally going to be left behind as a part of his high school memories. Luckily, he managed to reach this point.
The Choi Jihoon in the drama would also have become a civil servant if he was lucky. He might also have gotten married to a woman that he had spent a long time with since college without a fight. Conversely, the man known as Ha Byungjae might also have become a person who does part time jobs in order to get by aimlessly had he not been so lucky.
Byungjae put his script under the bed. He wasn’t that confident in doing well, but he wasn’t that worried. He just had to do what he could. Like he always did.
* * *
“Cut! Let’s keep this one and do one more. Byungjae, we’ll do that one more time.”
Yes – Byungjae’s voice could be heard. After entering the set, Byungjae became limp as though he was lethargic. Jayeon inwardly cheered as soon as she saw that even time itself was being stretched out. She was somewhat worried about her decision at first, but this proved that her decision wasn’t wrong. There probably wasn’t a better person to express Choi Jihoon, who had chronic fatigue.
“He looks completely different from when we were drinking,” Ganghwan said from next to her.
It seemed that he had finally escaped the clutches of writer Lee Hanmi.
“He is. He is different, but that’s probably the real him. He easily gets swayed by the ones around him, has no challenging mindset, and has zero motivation.”
“Don’t you think you’re insulting him too much?”
“Hyung, being adventurous and forward-looking aren’t the only qualities that make a good person. If everyone was like you, the world would probably have ended a long time ago, you know?”
Jayeon looked at Byungjae. He was quietly looking at the script. He never proactively created things to do or lead people, but he earnestly did the tasks he was assigned.
“He might be frustrating in your eyes. After all, you are someone who charges towards the goal without caring about anything else if it’s for acting. However, people generally aren’t like you. If there are people who take the initiative to guide others, there should also be the people that are guided in order for society to keep working. A senior producer told me that dramas were ultimately just miniature versions of life. Is being passive a bad thing? A wrong thing? I don’t think so. The reason society is working stably is because the passive majority is backing up the proactive minority.”
“You’re suddenly talking about life philosophy. But it does put me at ease when I hear that.”
“Put you at ease?”
Jayeon turned around to look at Ganghwan. She somehow found Ganghwan rather hateful when she saw him smiling with satisfaction.
“I told you, didn’t I? I won’t work with a producer who has no skill.”
“Having such a mindset is skill in your eyes?”
“Seeing people as they are and reflecting that into your work isn’t something people can do without deep thinking. Showing the viewers everything in the raw without packaging it. To do something like that, casting an actor who has a similar image to the imaginary character means that the producer’s eyes and skills are good. After all, discerning people’s natures is one of the necessary skills of a producer.”
I’m off to the bathroom – after saying those words, Ganghwan turned around with a smile on his face.
Jayeon looked at his back. It was two years ago. She went to see a play that was produced by Ganghwan and acted by Ganghwan. She bought a ticket without knowing what it was about, and just watched the play without thinking too much. Her objective was to see his face after a long time. She wasn’t that interested in the play itself. The play started. Jayeon started watching the play in comfort, but she soon realized that her waist was becoming stiffer and stiffer. The play, which was about the life of a wanderer, expressed the people living in the streets without holding back. Honestly, it made her uncomfortable. She was uncomfortable with the fact that she had to see the problems of society through a media known as a play. The play didn’t give her any room to breathe and kept showing the rawness of the people branded as ‘failures’ by society. The audience didn’t produce a single sound. They probably couldn’t. The play pressured their whole bodies just that much. There was no reversal in the ending either. It didn’t talk about ‘splendid worker A returning to his job because he was acknowledged for his earnestness’ or anything remotely close to it. Suicide via jumping off from a bridge. That was the ending of the play. Jayeon immediately ran out of the theater. She felt horrid and disgusted. She also felt angry that she paid money to watch such a play. She sat down on the stairs in front of the theater and thought for a long time. Weren’t dramas supposed to be fantasy?
“Hyung, I mean, seonbae. I still believe that there’s a ray of hope in life. I am going to draw a harsh life. The ending will be a happy one. Yours is just way too sad,” Jayeon said in a small voice.
The man who shook the person known as Yoo Jayeon twice. The play she watched that day became the motif of this drama. A true-to-life kind of life. The life of an ‘ordinary civilian A’ and not a Cinderella. A drama that didn’t contain happiness the size of a magical pumpkin carriage, and instead contained happiness the size of a 100-won yogurt would be her work.
Jayeon said as she sat down in front of the monitor.
* * *
“He looks natural,” Yuna said when Byungjae’s act was nearing its end.
The producer gave the okay sign as Byungjae left his room with his bag.
“You should get ready too. It will be you after Mira-noona.”
“I’ve been looking at the script for quite a while now.”
Yuna walked circles around the same spot nervously. After Byungjae’s shoot ended, the camera stationed in front of Byungjae’s room started moving. The lights and the monitor moved along with it.
“Can you come here for a second?”
Maru closed his script and walked over to the woman who was in charge of make-up.
“Close your eyes.”
He sat down and closed his eyes. The soft sensation of cosmetics brushed past his face. The woman didn’t stop after his face and went to his hair as well.
“Director, how does that look?”
Maru squinted his eyes open. Jayeon was in front of him.
“He needs to look like a goody-two-shoes, so I think we should lower his eyelashes a little more.”
“Then I’ll also brighten up his skin tone a little more so that he looks like someone who only studies.”
“Okay then. Please do that. Do his hair so that he looks neat but also rather outdated.”
“I just need to lower his bangs a little.”
Unlike when he was receiving make-up in the styling room, the on-the-scene make-up artist was quite rough and quick with her hands.
“Can you have a look in the mirror?”
Maru checked his appearance in front of the full-body mirror in one corner of the set. The boy who was wearing a dark indigo uniform vest looked extremely ordinary. It was a different feeling from the character from New Semester. There were similarities to the character he played in ‘Youth Generation’, but the current style was more dry. There were no distinctive characteristics at all.
“Good,” Maru said.
His appearance fit the image of the character Park Haejoon that he was playing. He liked it quite a lot because he looked like a stereotypical shy high school student. Expressing a character’s inner world through acting was important, but appearance was just as important sometimes.
“Follow me once you’re ready. We’ll do a quick rehearsal.”
Jayeon went inside the close-off set.
“The camera director will follow you inside. He’ll be standing here.”
The corner next to the desk was the camera director’s position. At that moment, the camera director came in. The director stood where Jayeon pointed.
“Once you open the door and come in, the director will slowly follow you with the camera as you sit down on the bed. You can’t be too slow or too fast. Bring out the feeling of when you just come back home with a tired body.”
Jayeon gave a demonstration. Maru inputted the time that the director wanted into his mind. It took around seven seconds for her to open the door, come in, and sit on the bed. For now, he decided to follow that time.
“Once you sit down and have a look at your desk, lie down on the bed with your feet on the ground. Did you get that?”
“For now, act just like I did. If it looks okay, we’ll use some ad-libbing. Start your lines once you lie down. There will be a boom mic above you, so don’t be conscious of it. After saying your lines, the cut will end with you walking towards the desk. It is pretty long, so don’t let down your guard.”
Maru slowly nodded. Perhaps because this was her first work, Jayeon seemed to be mindful of the little details. Unlike producer Park Hoon, who just threw the work to the actors and adjusted the details afterwards, it seemed that Jayeon’s style was to decide everything beforehand and adjust accordingly. Maru looked around the room and drew an imaginary movement path. The acting had to be mild without any kind of technique. Perhaps this was why it was even harder.
-If it’s too much for you, you can hand it over to me.
The masked man’s voice could be heard from his heart. He seemed eager to act. Maru told him to calm down. His cooperation wasn’t necessary for this level of acting.
“Don’t get nervous,” said the camera director as he tapped on his shoulder.
Maru replied yes. Jayeon left, and the first cameraman handed the camera on his shoulders to the camera director. The long cable was managed by the lineman, the youngest member of the camera team, so that it was lined up against the wall and did not enter the camera frame. Maru calmed his breathing and left the room. The staff closed the door for him, and Maru waited in front of it. There were people assigned to even the trivial things for dramas.
“Please get ready,” said the assistant director who had an in-ear monitor.
Jayeon, who was watching the monitor from quite far off, was holding a walkie-talkie. Maru could only hear the vibrations of a motor. Every sound produced by people disappeared. The only person who could break this silence spoke at that time,
The assistant director signaled him with his eyes. Maru uttered out a short breath and grabbed the doorknob.