Bong Joon-ho: “The fear is hard to get rid of”
Director Bong, although your films are well-loved for their dark humor, they can also be cynical in their outlook. Would you describe yourself as a pessimist?
I don’t think I’m pessimistic at every point, but I want to be honest in the face of the reality that stands in front of us. With Parasite, my thinking was that mankind’s achieved such great development — like the mobile devices we see in front of us but if we think about the past 30 years, has the gap between rich and poor dissipated? Not really. I have a son myself, do I think things are going to improve in his generation? I don’t really think that either. That is the source of a lot of fear, actually. So I wanted to be honest with that fear and sadness and really deliver that.
Is that fear more prominent today, or is this something you’ve been thinking about for a while?
Well, I began developing this idea in 2013 which is already six years ago but of course the issue of gap between rich and poor, of economic polarization was not that different back then. I was working then on the post-production of Snowpiercer, which is also about class difference and class struggle, where the rich and poor inhabit different carriages on a train — so you could say I was already pretty much in the grip of this idea of class difference already. But with Parasite, I wanted the story to be more about my own surroundings, my own day-to-day surroundings.
- “Everyone’s life comes to an end. We’re all going to come to the same fate. So you just keep going while you can, doing what you like.”
- “I think my photographic career has been one of growing, learning, experimenting and trying different things. That was a big journey for me! It’s always a progression, it’s about challenging the idea of what photography is.”
- “I don’t like plan Bs. If you don’t have a plan B, then you can’t take plan B. Don’t give yourself an out.”
- “I’m doing things more personally than ever before because that’s what my project is based on, that’s who I am and I have never been this happy my whole life — but it was a long road to get here.”
- “If you work with somebody for a long time, you have to challenge them otherwise you jeopardize your relationship. You have to constantly reinterpret your work together and provide a new vision of your relationship.”
- “Belief is very important. It’s like when you are riding a horse and you want it to go to the left, you look to the left first and then pull the horse’s head. As a human being it is the same thing: wherever you put your attention is probably where you are going to find yourself.”
- “I have a moral standard of my own. I know the difference between right and wrong, I know what I feel comfortable with. And if you live up to your own moral standard, you’re going to have a more comfortable life.”
- “Just about anything is possible if you can find the map or the blueprint to get there. I think you’re only limited by your imagination.”
- “You’re always looking for a second chance. You’re always looking to do a little bit better than you did the last time. And you hope that the readers will stay with you.”
- “My work is integrated completely into my life and vice-versa – I’ve been working since I was sixteen and my work is my life and my life is my work. It made me who I am.”
- “I think the final circle in being an artist is connecting, making some conversation to the world you’re in. I think if you have that feeling of why you need to do something, you’ll find a way. And I think that really takes you forward! If you’re feeling that, maybe other people need that to.”
- “Wherever any of us have been wounded, if we dive into what those wounds are, if we go down into and do the hard work within those wounds, we’ll actually find ourselves, we’ll find our real giftedness, a sincere, true giftedness.”
- “Failure is just something you have to go through on your own. Nothing can prepare you for it, just like a broken heart. I thought about folding, but I’m not a quitter. I’m not going to quit.”
- “I just keep imagining myself thirty years from now thinking, ‘Why didn’t you take advantage of all the opportunities you had? Look at all the people you could have worked with, the roles you could have done. Go for it.’ And that’s what I am thinking.”
- “The more experience you have, the more time you’ve spent on this earth, the more regrets you accumulate. It’s normal. You can’t do everything right, nobody’s perfect. But if you think too much about that, you’re not here. You have to make some efforts to stay open-minded.”
- “If I knew that tomorrow a meteorite would destroy our planet, I would start shooting a new film today.”
- “For me it’s a lot about physicality, about how I feel. When you have these hardships or when you see someone you love in pain or you struggle, all the petty shit goes away. You are like, “I can’t believe I was worried about this other thing,” when you see what really matters.”
- “Writing itself should be so extreme, so wild, and so much fun that it doesn’t matter whether or not you ever sell the book.”
- “I believe that you’re a result of the choices that you make. Each action has a reaction. Somehow it’s just all connected and I wouldn’t change any of it.”
- “I follow the beat of my own drum. I think I’ve gotten more confident and self-trustful in my ability and my natural appetite for play, and not over-adorning it with anything. I’ve always been disciplined and I’m still nothing if not conscientious.”
- “My work and my life are the same thing to me. I don’t have a life on one side and work on the other side. My entire life has been my work. I don’t have a family, I am by myself, I have made very strict choices.”
- “The only thing that you have to be very sure of is that nothing can go wrong. You can’t get in the way of the whole thing by messing it up with great ideas or smart moves. Absolute trust is, I think, the crucial ingredient.”
- “Having come out as a gay man and the self-confidence that gives you is huge! It affects every aspect of your life, including my work. People like honesty. They respect honesty. And my film career took off once I came out.”
- “I think my love of pushing the boundaries in film comes from my desire as a kid to do something artistic that would amaze people. I wanted to do nothing less than that. Those are the projects that I love: figuring out what might just be possible but hasn't been done yet.”
- “I don’t want to be good. I want to be the best. Even in failing that, you’ll hit a higher mark than if you never tried.”
- “If you have to defend something that you like, it makes you to like it even more. My parents hated the comic strips, they hated rock ‘n’ roll, and when they found out what movies I was going to they also were against that. So everything I loved I had to defend.”
- “I don’t want to only do what I know how to do. I want to be pushed somewhere else.”
- “I have the freedom to express myself. And it doesn’t matter if somebody’s going to pay me or pat me on the back for it. I chose to do things that I embrace, that I feel passionate about for whatever reason and I create my freedom around that.”
- “It's just so boring listening to false modesty. I've worked for many, many years so I'm really enjoying that my hard work has paid off… I think you should know your worth!”
- “In your life there’s a moment when the door opens and you need to walk through the door then. You can’t say then, “Well, I’ll go through it two years from now. I’ll do it, I’ll save up some money...” Because by then the door will be closed.”
- “I work till the breath goes out of me, and that might be at one or two or even four or five (in the afternoon). The point is that you must work every day if you ever expect to let the vision take hold of you.”
- “I don’t think I’m ever going to stop wanting to see and experience things. I think the day that you don’t long for that anymore is the day you have kind of given up.”
- “I think as you are growing up, deciding what you want to do is really the process of elimination rather than gravitating towards something until you land on what really makes you happy.”
- “Making something or creating something is about looking and exploring the potential, and I want to do that right up until the day of the performance. And then when we’re performing, I want to do it a bit more. There’s no reason we can’t.”
- “I like the accidents, the things that happen by chance. I let the life come to the picture and the creativity flow.”
- “I think that when you’re a creator, you set out to create the perfect thing, but the idea of reaching that kind of creative nirvana — that’s something that you should never quite reach.”
- “Being creative and keeping your brain occupied is very sensible because if you don’t you die, slowly. Sometimes I feel tired and think I ought to give it up, I don’t want to just retire. I enjoy it all.”
- “I think you always have to have risk when you’re creating a piece of art. Without that, I don’t understand really what the drive is to succeed. It’s the risk factor that, weirdly, keeps you feeling safe. It keeps you on your toes.”
- “I think it’s so good to try new things and open the window and let some fresh air in and try to eliminate any regrets.”
- “You don’t have to please everybody. As long as you and the people whose opinions you respect are comfortable and happy with it, then… keep going! Keep making that weird stuff.”
Taika Waititi: “No idea is final”
Mr. Waititi, did you have a big imagination as a kid?
I definitely did! I had many friends but I did often spend a lot of time in my own head, by myself, using my imagination to kind of… Maybe sometimes to cope, but also just to entertain myself. In New Zealand, in the small towns where I grew up in, you can get pretty bored so you’re spending a lot of time just imagining things and trying to entertain yourself. I think that’s probably where a lot of our comedy comes from in New Zealand — it’s observational, we’re looking at things from the outside. But I feel like kids today aren’t encouraged to be bored as much as they should be. Kids say, “Oh, I’m bored,” and people freak out and try and stimulate them with other things.
Or they’ve all got constant entertainment from their iPads.
Exactly, now they’ve all got iPads and it’s done for them! I think it’s really important for a kid to be left alone and left to figure it out for themselves how to pass the time. As a kid, I spent so much time bored and coming up with ideas of how to do things, so I’d write stories or I’d draw pictures or invent worlds through drawing or just in my head, just thinking about things. I think that a lot of my creativity has really come from being bored.