Next Entertainment World (NEW) is a rising company that is doing much better than just pioneering its way in the Korean film industry dominated by CJ Entertainment, Lotte Entertainment and Showbox. Having distributed the recent hit drama, Descendants of the Sun, NEW is proving to be a surprising force in the film and drama market. Jang Kyung ik, the executive director of NEW’s film and drama sector, spoke with The Granite Tower (GT) about NEW.
GT: What kind of firm is NEW?
Jang: NEW is a corporate firm that provides diverse media contents. We conduct business in various fields that include film, drama, music, performance, and publication rights. The work we do is different from producing contents. We do not write scenarios nor do we make the film; we gather investment which is key to the production of a film and we distribute the final material when the filming is over.
GT: What are some films distributed by NEW?
Jang: NEW has participated in the distribution of numerous films from low budget ones such as Pieta (2012), which was awarded the Golden Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival, to Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013) and The Attorney (2013), which managed to draw more than a million viewers. Moreover, NEW discovered its potential in the field of drama through its recent participation in the distribution of the hit drama, Descendants of the Sun.
▲ Logo of New. Provided by filmbaza.pl.
GT: How is a scenario selected?
Jang: We first gather scenarios through various channels. An average of ten scenarios get registered by the NEW Korean film team every week, and we collect scenarios from other resources on the basis of direct and indirect human networks. From among the collected scenarios, NEW selects the very few we wish to handle. That is decided through a meeting in which all members of NEW participate.
GT: How are the actors and actresses cast for a film or drama?
Jang: The casting process is something we consult on with the film production company. What is important is whether or not an actor or actress fits the character.
GT: How are the producer and director of a film decided on?
Jang: That is also something we consult on with the film production company. Creating a harmonious team is the most important thing. Therefore, if the director has little experience, we make sure the producer is someone who has enough experience to be able to lead a team of more than a hundred people. If the film director is a veteran, on the other hand, we try to find a producer who is able to blend in with the veteran director’s unique style.
GT: What is the role of a film distributor in the preproduction stage?
Jang: Pre-production is the stage when the production company and the distribution company share their plans about how to produce and find investment for the production. The production company is usually more concerned with the cinematic quality of the scenario, while the distribution company is more concerned with its commercial potential. Since film is art and a capital-intensive cultural content at the same time, it is important for the distribution company and the production company to reach an agreement where they can pursue both values at this pre-production stage.
GT: How are products placed in a film or drama?
Jang: The insertion of a product is flexible according to each drama or film. Because Descendants of the Sun was the first drama distributed by NEW, we can only provide an answer that pertains to what happened for that particular drama. First, the firm that wishes to place its product in a drama and the production company state their conditions. Then, the content of the advertisement is sent to the author. The decision of whether or not the product will be inserted in the scenario is made by the author. In the case of Descendants of the Sun, there was a secondary author that reviewed the product placement requests. When the requests were confirmed by the secondary author and finally the main authors, the scenario was amended, and the producer made sure the product was well exposed in the scene.
GT: What advice would you give to those who think of working in the field of cultural contents?
Jang: Usually, people who dream of working in the field of cultural contents are people who initially had an interest in the field or have been working in some other industry but changed his or her career path because he or she is attracted by the cultural contents industry. Whatever the initial attraction is, we are interested in how the applicant had been working to achieve his or her dream; what the work itself means to the applicant is more important than writing one more line on a resume. Moreover, since the field of cultural contents is extremely broad, there is no mold in which the applicant has to fit. I would advise students to experience diverse cultural activities and build themselves into the kind of person they want to become.
▲ Jang Kyung ik, executive director of film and drama sector of NEW. Provided by Jang Kyung ik.
GT: How does the future of the cultural contents industry look to you?
Jang: As the overall quality of life has increased, so has the demand for cultural contents. On top of that, we project that the cultural market will further prosper in face of the extensive changes the Chinese cultural market is going through. Moreover, cultural contents industry i s an industry that needs the hands of human beings―something that can not be done by robots. That is what makes it meaningful.