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Program Director

   
 
By Yun Seul ki
Editor-in-Chief
cecilia@dongguk.edu

Do you know four big movie festivals in Korea? They are Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF), JeonJu International Film Festival, Gwangju International Film Festival and Pucheon International Film Festival.  Do you know who organizes these festivals?  It's a program director.  As people have become more interested in movies, movie festivals in Korea have become more international.  The Post met with a program director Jung Soo-wan to learn about what a program director does.

The Post: Tell me about the role of a program director.

Dir. Jung:  As you know, a movie festival gives people a chance to view unique movies.  A program director plans the whole movie festival including deciding the theme of a movie festival, choosing the films suitable for the theme and introducing them to people.

The Post: How long have program directors been in Korea?

Dir. Jung: Program directors started with the PIFF in 1996, at that time, there were no program directors, so movie experts had to take care of that festival.  Now, we have a festival programer who leads the whole organization, and several program directors work under him.  Foreign movie festivals have an art director for organizing festival and a managing director for festival progress.  There are 2-4 programers in Korean festivals.

The Post: How many program directors are in Korea?

Dir. Jung: There are about fifty movie festivals and about one hundred directors are working for them in Korea.  The biggest movie festival, PIFF, has four directors.

The Post: What qualifications are required to be a program director?

Dir. Jung:  I've interviewed famous the concerned who have worked at Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. They suggested four qualifications -  being healthy, holding diverse ideas about movie and having ability to communicate in foreign languages.  Directors have to be healthy because they have to travel to various movie festivals around the world.  When you choose a foreign language film, you must know the language to understand movies. Good social skills are essential, because a program director needs to meet staff, sponsors and movie director while abroad. If you want to know whether you are fit for this job, it's best to participate in a movie festival as a staff member or a volunteer.

The Post: How can someone become a program director?

Dir. Jung:  There is no course to become a program director.  Program directors begin their careers with simple jobs in the movie business.

The Post: How long does it take a program director to prepare a festival?

Dir. Jung: It takes almost a year.  However, directors usually start being busy five months before a festival begins.  At that time, we work almost all day long.  After the festival finishes, we take four months off.

The Post: Which aspect of the job attracts you?

Dir. Jung:  My professor in graduate school introduced me to this job.  And I've been a program director for 4 years. My first festival was the JeonJoo Film Festival.  I was the program director.  Even though people say it's hard work, I think it has two attractions.  There are a lot of people who work in the film field like movie directors, engineers, film-festival staffs and so on.  I longed for the other movie fields I've never been challenged.  Through preparing for the festival, people  are challenged by new fields.  Although program directors are really busy when preparing for a  film festival, it is a very exciting job. And when we hear people's positive reactions, it's all worthwhile.  

The Post : Are there difficulties to this job?

Dir. Jung:  JeonJoo Film festival, which I directed this year, selected non-mainstream movies to introduce various films to people.  Choosing these films was difficult.  There are always budget problems, too.

The Post: Is a program director a good career choice?

Dir. Jung:   It's obvious that being a program director is an exciting and charming job.  But it's a part-time work and the salary is not as high as you might expect.  In addition, there aren't that many film festivals.  Jobs are hard to find.  You need to consider this.

The Post: Do you have any advice for students who want to do your job?

Dir. Jung:  As I said before, this job is not as easy and fantastic as you might think.  However, the more people become interested in the arts including movies, music and museums, the more festivals there will be.  If it interests you, participate in a festival as a volunteer at first.  Then you will know whether you really want to do it or not.  And remember that working as a program director in a festival will give you a chance to communicate with people through film.

Yun Seul ki  cecilia@dongguk.edu

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