Interview with Screenwriter Janet Oh (WOOSUNG 2020)

1. What is your screenplay about?

“Family Day” introduces Victoria Im, a second-generation Korean American woman, struggling to attain recognition for her artistic pursuits. But when a tragic event gives her an opportunity to catapult her into worldwide recognition, she must carefully weigh her options. After all, the opportunity would require her to re-enter her greatly powerful chaebol extended family.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This idea was born from my love of Netflix’s The Crown and other British period dramas that featured aristocratic families. For years, I’ve deeply admired their writing, acting, and production qualities, and wanted to emulate their styles in the hopes of being seen as a more serious writer due to my internalized belief that my Korean American identity was an obstacle instead of an asset. However, thanks to more Asian representation in Hollywood these past couple of years, I began to want my people in the things I like. Thus, Woosung, named after the cram school business my mother opened during her mid-20s in South Korea, was born. I also believe this screenplay should be made into a movie because I know there are capable Korean American actors out there who will resonate with the messages of my screenplay, and I want to create an opportunity for them to really utilize their talents to perform a story they’re passionate about.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Crackling. Intricate.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Doctor Who’s “The Day of the Doctor”

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

One year.

7. How many stories have you written?

13.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“Fox Rain” by Lee Sun Hee

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I started writing this screenplay at my parents’ house during lockdown. After being away from home during college, there was definitely a lot of deep reassessment of my relationship with my parents, all while doing a full-time job remotely and working on an MFA application at the same time. So, trying to figure out Victoria’s character was challenging and required a lot of self-reflection. But the more I came to understand myself and my journey up to this point, the more I was able to flesh out Victoria’s character.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love teaching literature to young students and helping them to become more intelligent readers.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

It’s a great site to easily discover festivals you might not have heard about and that could really be beneficial to you. I’ve had a good experience so far and have recommended this site to all my writing friends.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

The reviews were a great motivator for me. As a writer at the beginning stages of her craft/career, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to have someone outside of my circle give me feedback.

The feedback was exactly what I needed. I was surprised that the reader had connected with my piece as a lot of the story and characters came from my personal experiences and the stories I heard from my immigrant parents. From my experience, I’ve had readers who were not aware of the societal context of my scripts. So, it meant a lot to me that the reader had this knowledge and understanding as it’s something that would be extremely helpful for writers of color. The constructive criticism was also very spot on, and I was able to finish another draft very recently because I knew what I needed to improve on.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

This script is a greatly structured story about the challenges of someone who isn’t familiar with her culture and is trying to integrate herself into it. Dealing with that while also being appointed CEO makes for a story with high stakes. Mixing the chaebol culture with an Americanized protagonist makes the story relatable and accessible for those who are unfamiliar.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Steve Rizzo
Justin: Bill Poulin
Tae-Min: Sean Ballantyne
———–

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