The Extra Mile sat down with Bargain director Jeon-Woo Sung during the Toronto International Film Festival back in September at a glamorous hotel in Downtown Toronto to talk about the new dystopian series Bargain.
Disclaimer: This interview was interpreted by a professional translator and therefore the following responses are paraphrased and inexact.
The Extra Mile (TEM): Bargain, It’s an adaptation of your short series from 2015, what kind of inspired you to make it a long series?
Jeon-Woo Sung: I was offered the project by Climax Studios who produced the series. I had a previous relationship with them and I was actually working on another project when I got the offer to make the short form into the long form TV series. As I was preparing, I knew one of the strengths of the original short form was the long take technique, and I knew that I had to use it for this television series. Obviously, it was very important to work with the actors to make sure we were all on the same page so we actually had a very long rehearsal, so we took about one month where we rehearse every single scene together and then when we started the production on the day of the shoot, we would actually practice rehearse the scene and then shoot in real time. That was one of the biggest preparations we had to do.
TEM: I wanted to elaborate on that, the single-take scene. Can you elaborate on that decision and how it can impact the viewer’s experience?
Jeon-Woo Sung: We thought that the long single take would really grab the audience’s attention. In preproduction, there were two things that were certain, first, the original short film story would be episode one and then the second part was there was an earthquake. So from that point on , we felt that we had to go with a single take where you just grab the story and move forward without having any pause.
TEM: And what was the casting process like?
Jeon-Woo Sung: So Jin Seon-kyu the main actor, I actually wrote the part with him in mind. And thankfully when I handed him the first draft of the script, he happily accepted the role so that was also a big sign of encouragement to me. And Jeon Jong-Seo the other character, was also somebody that I had in mind as well. So when I offered the role she was actually quite afraid of the experiential concept. So we met, we had discussions, I took in her feedback and reflected in the screenplay and she accepted it after.
TEM: The theme displays human trafficking and dystopian, what’s the social commentary that you want to display for the audience?
Jeon-Woo Sung: So I wouldn’t say I’m making a big social commentary with the series, but I do think there is a bit of reflection of the Korean capitalistic nature and I hope there are a little bit of metaphors explaining the capitalistic nature of the country
TEM: Are there any last words for aspiring directors or any message that you want to convey to viewers?
Jeon-Woo Sung: I actually want to say don’t dream too big, sometimes being too optimistic you kind of fail to see the big picture.
You can stream the first episode of Bargain on Paramount+ on Oct 5, 2023.