Life, Once Again! - Chapter 680
There was a quiz. The subject was math. The math teacher was known to give out hard questions, so he studied quite hard. He checked his score after the quiz ended, and he scored 80 points. Woojin, who sat next to him, also scored 80 points. Hojoon got 82. He thought that he did pretty well, but it was just so-so.
As always, he did decently. He didn’t excel at anything, but he wasn’t bad at anything to the point that he was pointed out for it. Whether it was studying or games or sports, he was always average. If there was one thing he could boast about, maybe it was that he never missed a class. He had the confidence to never miss a class even if it was for a cram school. He did have the desire to do better, but he always ended average or just a little above it. He was like a mass-produced item. No matter what he did, the result was always conformed to the specs.
He lied down. Although sleep overwhelmed him, he didn’t want to sleep. He thought about studying or maybe playing a game. He was more than willing to do so, but his body refused to leave the bed. Haah, Haejoon sighed and covered his eyes with his arm. He didn’t know what it was that he wanted to do.
Just then, he remembered an unfamiliar smile. It was from the girl sitting next to him. They had been in the same class for the semester, and it had been a few weeks since they started sitting next to each other, but the number of times he talked to that girl could be counted on one hand. There was no real reason to talk to her, and he didn’t want to do that either. Actually, the more accurate reason should be that he wasn’t interested. She was just one of the many classmates that he would spend the year with. Today, she made a bright smile. He had never seen that smile before.
* * *
Hearing the cut sound, Maru took his arm off his eyes and sat up. The camera director, who had been shooting from the corner, handed the camera to his assistant and exercised his shoulders.
“The director is coming,” said the assistant director as he opened the door.
Following that, Jayeon entered the set.
“You did just as I told you to.”
“For now, your movement was according to the plan, but your mood is a little too dreary. The character known as Park Haejoon is a student that might exist anywhere. He’s not a character from a tragic story, so I think you need to adjust that tone a little.”
“Should I try being a little more cheerful?”
Maru left the set. He shook his body off lightly before waiting for the assistant director’s signal. The assistant director, who was nodding while putting his finger on the in-ear monitor, shouted to him to stand by. Maru grabbed the doorknob. Following that, he got the cue sign.
He pushed the door open and went inside. He took his steps while being conscious of the camera director who was waiting on the left. This scene didn’t have a single line. His only form of expression was his facial expressions, actions, and sighs. He widened his steps a little to speed up a little. He moved according to Jayeon’s request and sat down on the bed before starting to act.
Maru thought back to the character known as Park Haejoon. He was someone who gained comfort within the fences of ordinariness, and yet he was also an ordinary student who yearned to be like his friends that were playing outside those fences. He sometimes sought to escape from everyday life, but whenever he was given the opportunity to, he would always refrain from doing so after thinking about the realistic problems. He was dissatisfied with the repetitive life of going to school and then to cram schools, but he had no intention of expressing that. He had a sense of rejection to revealing himself, and yet he contradictorily also wished for someone to look at him and think that he was special. However, that balance was delicate and neither pulled him up nor dragged him down. Like the Earth rotating around the sun, Haejoon was just spending his school life while in orbit.
He was a character that could bring out sympathy within people. He was an ‘ordinary’ person after all. However, transforming that ordinariness into acting was pretty difficult.
Acting had to contain an intention or a meaning. Actions that made up the act likewise had to have intent behind them for the people watching to focus. If the objective was to show an ‘ordinary student’ as it was, there was no real reason to use an actor for it. After all, having an ordinary student do that role instead would be perfectly sufficient. There was only one reason why an actor was used. It was to show the ordinary so that it did not look ordinary. The ‘natural act’ that people talked about was not supposed to be understood literally. The very act of acting itself was at the epitome of unnaturalness. When actors talked about being ‘natural’, they didn’t mean that they should show what they were supposed to as it was; they meant they should show it in a ‘convincing’ manner. The two might sound similar, but there was a big difference between the two. Shooting a class full of people would show a group of ‘natural-looking’ students. However, people did not call that acting. It was only called acting when someone that was not a student was wearing a student uniform and ‘convincingly’ expressed being a student.
To convincingly express something, the actor had to become infinitely close to the essence of the target. How would the Park Haejoon, who was analyzed and interpreted by Maru after looking at the script, act in various situations? While Maru proceeded with the act that Jayeon requested him to do, his head was looking for another form of expressing Park Haejoon. This character, who was satisfied being average, belonged to the more earnest side. From the fact that he spent time preparing for the quiz and that he was never late to school and cram school classes, it could be gleaned that he was someone who always did things ahead of time in case he was late.
He raised his arm and blocked his face. The script did not contain a detailed description of the situation. Haejoon, who enters the room, thinks about some things for a while before sitting at the desk. Jayeon had re-interpreted this description into one where Haejoon would enter his room and lie down on the bed instead.
Maru continued his thoughts as he continued to act according to what he saw during the rehearsal. Being earnest could also be interpreted as having and maintaining one’s own schedule and movement patterns. Is throwing his bag on the bed despite not experiencing anything fatiguing and then falling on the bed really suited to this character? There were a number of fixed patterns after finishing school. Mixing things that an ordinary, earnest student would do might be something trivial, but it would definitely bring out character.
After finishing his thoughts, Maru sighed. He couldn’t start improvising halfway through. The thing that a new actor had to prioritize above everything was to listen to all of the producer’s instructions. Even if he couldn’t accept it, it would be fine as long as the producer was satisfied with it. Being able to go against the director was something that only verified actors could do. New chicks had their new chick ways.
The shoot ended in the same spot as the first shoot. Maru sat up. Jayeon came over this time as well. She could have told him everything through the assistant director, too. It could be seen that she was quite a passionate producer.
“It is the picture I want, but it somehow feels lacking.”
“Director Yoo. I told you you shouldn’t be so greedy on your first work. He looked good in my eyes. From how he didn’t look awkward when it came to his gaze and actions while lying down, don’t you think that that was a successful cut?” The camera director spoke with a smile.
He seemed to be acquainted with producer Jayeon as Jayeon accepted his words without feeling displeased.
“You’re right, but something’s just not to my liking.”
“Is my acting insufficient?”
“No. You were good just as the camera director said. You were good, but it just isn’t enough for me. I’m not saying that your acting is the problem. I’m saying that there’s a flaw in my production methods.”
Finding insufficiencies from oneself. School textbooks thought that that was the normal thought process, but anyone with a decent amount of social experience would know how absurd that was. The higher a person climbed, the more authority they gained, and the more achievements they sought, the more they shifted the responsibility onto others. That was an unwritten rule in this society.
Producer Jayeon tried to find her insufficiencies from within herself. Meaning, she wasn’t someone who would shift the blame on others. Maru couldn’t be entirely sure from just this one thing, but it seemed that she was on the relatively decent side of society.
“Would you like to solve this yourself?”
“Sounds like you have something in mind.”
“An actor not drawing a picture inside his head after receiving a script would be a negligence of duty.”
“That’s the answer I wanted. Honestly speaking, I don’t really know what it means to be ‘ordinary’. That’s why I want to listen to as many opinions as possible. I already told this to the other actors. If there’s something they can’t understand or can’t accept after listening to my directions, I told them to say it to me on the spot without hesitation. It will be no use if it happens after the shoot. You know what I mean, right?”
“Good. How are you going to express it?”
“As I analyzed it, I thought that this fellow needed to base his actions on the ‘right actions’.”
“It’s nothing grand. It’s those things that adults always tell the youths, the ones that appear in textbooks. To be more precise, the right actions that are generally sought. For example, washing your hands after going out or organizing your items.”
“After listening to that and thinking about Park Haejoon, he really sounds like a boring character to me.”
“It is as you say.”
“But I also like it.”
“Try coming up with a movement path so that the camera director can capture you accurately and properly.”
“For now, the entering process is the same. However, I won’t throw the bag. I’ll just go to the desk and start organizing the desk so that it looks neat and tidy.”
“Then should I have the desk neatly cleaned up?”
“No, we must give the feeling that Park Haejoon is going through such processes. It’s not like he’s a clean freak nor is he paranoid over things like that. Having a moderately messy desk is good since it looks like it belongs to an ordinary student.”
“Good, I got that.”
“After that, he sits on the bed.”
“Okay. After that, do the things you are thinking about as well. Also, from waking up from the bed to sitting at the desk. That will be one cut.”
“Senior, please take a pretty shot. Maru, do what you just said.”
Jayeon left with the walkie-talkie in hand. Maru also picked up the bag on the bed before leaving the room. This was the third shoot. The cue sign came soon. He opened the door and went inside before standing in front of the desk. Since he was given permission to improvise to a certain extent, he used his mouth a little. He yawned and took out his textbooks from his bag before piling them in a corner of his desk. Putting them neatly on the shelf was unnecessary so he skipped that part.
He put his bag under his desk before sitting on the bed. Then he pulled his pillow towards him. He hugged it before lying down. Being conscious of the fact that the camera was tilting a little, he opened his lips slightly. Sighing deeply might feel too artificial, so he replaced that with breathing slightly heavily. He rolled around in bed a little as he thought about the unordinary ‘her’ who had barged into his ordinary life. He was in his youth, a time when he couldn’t express himself clearly because he didn’t know the identity of his feelings. Maru looked at the ceiling in a daze before walking over to the desk.
Cut, the sound could be heard from outside the set. Producer Jayeon entered the set along with some footsteps that sounded like they came from a burly man.
“Isn’t it a little too girly to hug a pillow?”
“Kids these days can get emotional, you know?”
“Are you like that too?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Okay, let’s leave you aside since you’re a little strange. Don’t you think a boy hugging a pillow and rolling around on bed is a little off?”
“If it’s strange, should we leave that out and try it again?”
Jayeon, who was tapping on her neck with her index finger, eventually shook her head.
“Did you hug the pillow to suggest that you had some feelings of first love?”
“It’s not something grand like a suggestion. I just tried expressing the ‘unordinary’ through that. Love finally showed signs of appearing to a boy who doesn’t have any ups nor downs in life. It’s rather stereotypical, but that just makes it easier to understand. It also suits an ‘ordinary’ character.”
Maru could not become Park Haejoon. Synchronizing with the character was the specialty of the masked man inside him. His specialty was to analyze everything meticulously in order to increase the level of similarity. As he had multiple analyses of the character inside his head, he didn’t feel that bad even if someone felt dissatisfied with his expression of the character. He just found it a bit of a pity. If he borrowed the masked man’s powers and became Park Haejoon down to his bones, he might have retorted to producer Jayeon’s words – perhaps he might have asked her what she knew about Park Haejoon.
“If you don’t like it, I can always go with another….”
“Nope! I will let you go for now. Your words persuaded me. Good, I really like this kind of thing.”
Producer Jayeon made a satisfied expression.
“Now we just have to get a cut of the creased duvet, a cut where you stand up, a cut of the clock, and finally a cut of you sitting down at the desk and fidgeting with a pencil.”
Jayeon pointed out the things they had to do in a clean fashion.