A couple weeks ago I had the chance to attend a ceremony honoring this year’s winner of the top slot in the Filmmakers Development Lab (FDL), sponsored by KOFIC. The lab, for those of you who don’t know, is… Okay, I give up on saying this in my own words. Here’s the blurb from the 2007 FDL website:
The Filmmakers Development Lab chooses five emerging filmmakers from submitted scripts. These Fellows are matched with individual Mentors drawn from the film industry in Korea and the United States. The Fellows and Mentors spend a week in Hawaii in one-on-one sessions developing their scripts. The Fellows and their projects are then presented to producers, financiers, production companies at the Independent Feature Film Market in New York in September, and at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea, in October. The Lab and its activities are wholly funded by the Korean Film Council, and held in partnership with the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, and the Independent Film Project in New York, and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) in San Francisco.
At the ceremony I chatted with Philip Chung, a fellow from last year, and with this year’s winner, Nathan Adolfson. Nathan was impressed with the way the lab doesn’t just honor you and leave you out in the cold. When they say filmmakers development, they mean it. They want to boost the fellows’ filmmaking careers. They work you hard, but it’s for your own good.
This year they’ve added something new: money. Nathan gets $40,000 to make his movie, but there’s a catch. It gets doled out at a couple of different points in the movie-making process. See, they want this movie to happen. Like I said, not an empty honor.
Nathan said I could talk about his script, so since I’m dying to, here goes. The script is called Model American, and I loved the idea the minute he pitched it to me. Basically, it’s about a Korean gangster in LA who has to flee the city and ends up in an idyllic small town in the Midwest. Naturally, the small-town Midwesterners are somewhat taken aback by the sudden appearance of this stranger in their midst, so he has a rocky time, getting taken advantage of and having to try to learn to live with the people of the town. Then his old troubles from LA catch up with him…
One of the beautiful things about this script idea is that it’s totally mainstream. Sure, the protagonist is Korean, but this is a movie that might play in Peoria (which is what Nathan was going for). I think it’s exactly the kind of crossover Korean film Hollywood needs.
So that’s FDL 2007. I suppose I really should have mentioned this year’s other fellows, but I didn’t. Bad, I know. Applications for FDL 2008 are being accepted starting Feb. 11 through the website (the 2008 part isn’t live yet).
P.S. I still haven’t figured out whether you have to be of Korean descent to make it into the lab or just write a Korean-themed script.