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June 9, 2021

FIRST LOOK SPOTLIGHT: Hannah Bang

Hannah Bang, from Gwangju, South Korea is a 2020 graduate with and MFA in Film and Television Production. They are the recipient of the First Look Faculty Award for Screenwriting.

What’s your First Look project about and what drew you to the subject?  

Soak is about a 16-year-old who meets her runaway mother in the hopes of convincing her to return home. It takes place over one night and at the end of it, our protagonist is left with a very difficult choice. Family relationships and coming of age stories are something that I’m naturally drawn to because I still feel like I’m in the process of growing up and figuring out how to deal with the rest of the world.    

What was challenging about making it and what was most enjoyable?  

Shooting in Korea was something that felt initially daunting to me because I had never done it before. I think I was scared of everything right up until the moment I had to just do it: casting, location scouting, finding crew, along with everything else. On the flip side, once I started, the worrying dipped. My cast and crew were really kind and talented. Location scouting was fun. I grew up in Korea but had never seen the place through a filmmaker’s perspective. It turns out there are so many cinematic locations. I definitely want to make another film in Korea.  

Collaboration is extremely important in filmmaking. Who were your key collaborators on this project and what did you learn from your work together?  

Everyone who worked on this film was essential. I wouldn’t have had the courage to shoot in Korea without my two producers Sharon Park and Queen Kim, so having their support was a huge help. I am so grateful to my cinematographer Heyjin Jun whose passion for the story would at times inspire even me, not to mention the incredible job she and her team did. My production designer Sujung Han was magic. She instinctively understood the look of the movie so we would share ideas on the details and she would always get it done, or bring something better. Finally, the conversations with my editor Kelsy Lua kept me grounded to the script and key moments of the story from pre-production to post. It’s important find people who are easy to communicate with- whether it’s because they understand you or your script.    

Why did you choose the School of Cinematic Arts and your division and/or track? 

I visited the school before applying and actually spent a summer helping out on various thesis film projects. It felt like the right place for me, where everyone from students to faculty shared such love and respect for movies and story-telling. It was palpable in the building.    

What have you learned about yourself as a creator from being at the School, and how has that prepared you so far for the career you want?  

I keep talking about communication, and I’m about to again. I went to an art school before this, where the work was very much of a solo activity. So through SCA I really learned how to work with other people: communicating with actors and crew, on set or via the script. Then together you figure out how to communicate to the audience. It’s a pretty essential skill for a writer/ director.  

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply to SCA?  

I have met very few people who came into SCA knowing the exact kind of movies they wanted to make, essentially knowing their voice as a filmmaker. I think it’s difficult to know and something that is always evolving, but really important to pay attention to and try to figure out because it links to the other question, why should people spend the time and money to watch the stories you create?