Interview with Filmmaker Daeryun Chang (CALL COHO)

Daeryun Chang’s short film CALL COHO was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the December 2017 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Daeryun Chang: I made “Call Coho” to have people think about how we interact with other people. I wanted to flip the spotlight away from the usual person of interest to the “supporting player.” In the case of the film, it is the surrogate driver who are often used but who hardly ever gets any attention. What is he like, what does he feel, what life background does he have? I wanted to build a story in very small but revealing pieces around him, the supposed “server,” and his clients who now have the tables turned on them since they are “serving” him at least from the storytelling standpoint.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

From the inception of the story to the post production of the film, “Call Coho” took about 8 months. The production (the shooting excluding pick up shots) itself was undertaken basically over an intense 36 hours in countless number of locations, often with different cars on a process trailer. While it was fun, from a technical standpoint, it is a demanding shoot. The headache with a driving movie is that we have to be constantly on the move.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Inner Peace

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

During the year the movie was made my father fell very ill and it was obvious that he did not have many months to live. Family members had to take turns nursing him and especially going into the pre-production meeting it was touch and go as to when we could actually shoot the movie. But he regained his health for about a week or so allowing me to confidently tell the cast and crew that we could finally shoot it. Sadly he passed away as we were in post-production and he never saw the finished product. I dedicated “Call Coho” at the end of film to his memory and his love of movies, especially westerns.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was quite gratifying to see that the movie resonated as strongly as it did given that “Call Coho” is about South Korea, an unfamiliar profession (being a surrogate driver) and in Korean but with subtitles. It proved to me again that some themes such as the ones that I wanted to evoke such as the banality of superficial vanity and the need for mutual respect are universal. Films, even a short one such as mine, allow different cultures to connect with each other.

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I was watching a documentary one day about a fast-service motorcycle courier who was raising a young daughter by himself. He made just a few dollars for each delivery and sometimes he took on jobs that required him to ride in heavy rain or even snow. He said he did it because he wanted to make up for his past misdeeds to his parents and the wife who left him by taking good care of his child. He was saving money to buy her a big doll. I adapted that story into mine and converted it into a surrogate driver since I wanted the protagonist to have varied interactions with his different clients that would reveal different facades of Korean society but also through them an arc of “Coho.”

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

“Tucker, the Man and his Dream” (1988) by Francis Ford Coppola. It is one of his lesser known movies but one that I have seen at least 50 times. It revolves around the true story of an innovator like Steve Jobs. I use it to teach Marketing because there are many lessons that can be easily conveyed. But even as just a movie, it has become my favorite film because it has a star performance by Jeff Bridges as Tucker as well as great supporting roles by three of my favorite actors, Joan Allen (pre-Bourne days), Martin Landau and Federic Forrest. The movie has emboldened me to always have a dream and even to dare to make them come true -and it has as I now make movies.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I am very happy about the FilmFreeway as it has allowed me to submit movies in a very economic and efficient manner. Los Angeles Feedback is the 12th festival that has accepted “Call Coho,” and so as they say the proof is in the pudding. The movie has been screened world-wide not only in LA (twice) but also in NYC, Ferrara (Italy,), Copenhagen, and Sydney. Needless to say I cannot say enough good things about FilmFreeway.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

That is a tough question. I think it might be “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. A really close second (certainly in the last 15 years) is “The Nearness of You” cover by Norah Jones.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I have almost completed a romantic-comedy-horror mash up short called “The First Timer” on men’s grooming. This will be my first film to be shot entirely in English -so no subtitles needed! It will be released in the spring of 2018.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

CALL COHO, 16min, South Korea, Drama/Mystery
Directed by Daeryun Chang

Coho is a proxy driver who gets paid to drive other people’s cars so that they can freely go drinking. His clients only think they see a man who is all out of luck but what mysterious past is he actually hiding?

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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