On the last day of the Udine Far East Film Festival, CUEAFS members Hannah Albone and Natasha Harmer interviewed Lee Won-suk, director of the hilarious comedy ‘How to Use Guys with Secret Tips’ (South Korea, 2013).
Hannah Albone: Are you pleased with the reception of the audience to your film here at the festival?
Lee Won-suk: Yeah I love it, I’m drunk every day, there’s alcohol everywhere! I love the people here; they’re very friendly, very relaxing.
Natasha Harmer: It’s a film about the film industry; can you talk us through some of your experiences that may have influenced the film?
LW-S: I think everybody has similar experiences, and working in any industry will be very similar. It’s like working hard is not important, taking the chance is very important. That’s how I started it, for me it was very funny because you go to a bookstore and there are self-improvement books like how to be successful or be happy, and a lot of people buy those books and I just wonder: does it really help? And I always wonder about it, that’s how this movie started.
HA: The film touches on the subject of gender equality, would you say that this is an important issue to you?
LW-S: Yes, because I have a lot of friends that are female who work in the industry, and it’s really hard for them. Sometimes they become… I don’t know if I can say this but… bitches, on purpose because they don’t want people to look down at them. They try to act meaner. My boss was like that, she was perfectly angelic, but when we worked she’d become a monster and she did it on purpose so no one will look down on her. I think every society’s very similar, still there is a war.
NH: This is your directorial debut; it has quite a quirky fun style. Is this something you want to experiment more with or will you try out some different styles?
LW-S: I’m going to do something different, next time I’m going to do a more cinematic film.
HA: We really enjoyed the style, and were wondering if it was something you were going to continue with.
LW-S: Thank you, I really like that kind of style, but I cannot do it all the time. I’m going to do a more normal one and then the next one I’m going to go back to it.
NH: Was there a particular film that inspired that kind of quirky style?
LW-S: I like Italian films, Italian films like Fellini’s, it has a little weirdness…and American B-rated movies like ‘Barbarella’.
HA: You lived in America for a while, aside from ‘Barbarella’ are there any other Western influences in your work?
LW-S: When I went to film school, I wasn’t really a film kid, so I didn’t watch many movies. What I did was I went to the library and watched almost everything. I was trying to study so I watched about five movies a day. I think that was really a good experience for me.
NH: So, do you believe in any of the ‘secret tips’ in the film used to attract the opposite sex?
LW-S: I don’t know, a lot of those tips we got from celebrities and dating coaches. But if you meet four or five people they all say the same thing: there’s no skill, it’s all about confidence. Like looking in to someone’s eyes and smiling. People know all this but they never do it!
Interview by Hannah Albone & Natasha Harmer
Photography by Daisy Ware-Jarrett