ground with their ideas for the look of the show. Episode 1 was theirs, and traditionally that means they would set the look for the rest of the season. But Hoffmeister felt this usual practice was too rigid for Pachinko and there should be room for a looser brief. “Normally, block one would set the look and block two continue with it. But I felt Justin Chon, as a filmmaker, is so different from Kogonada that there was definitely room for watering down this ‘series bible’. It would be far more interesting if the second block made decisions of their own, based on filmmaking preferences.” For instance, that would mean more handheld shooting for block two, where block one didn’t feel it was appropriate. Also, block one wouldn’t differentiate between the look of different places; oppression in Korea looked much like oppression in Japan, although there was an inherent time disparity. “Block two would look to separate them by using different lenses for distinct purposes,” Hoffmeister operates from a place of managing his own ego, as far as work goes. He quotes Polish cinematographer Sławomir Idziak, whom he studied under at film school. “I will always remember what he said: ‘Cinematography is only important in the first five minutes and the last five minutes. One sets you up; the other releases you into the night.’ In the middle, it’s all about the script, characters and performance. the DOP adds. EGO DEATH
CRITICS’ CHOICE Receiving rave reviews, the visual elements of the storytelling – from cinematography and costumes to locations – has been roundly praised. Along with Hoffmeister, Ante Cheng acted as DOP for two of the episodes
SPECIAL EPISODE In the penultimate chapter of Pachinko , episode 7, the production really flexed its muscles and, literally, went off script. In fact, the story of Hansu isn’t one that you’ll find in the book – this was a Soo Hugh invention. It featured megastar Lee Min-ho as Hansu, but was created as his origin story before his time in the main episodes of the show. The special episode was the last one shot in Korea before production moved to Canada, so the crew were ready for this complete change of story and shooting regime. “We were stepping out of the usual narrative and changing the filming rules as well.” These started with the adoption of a 4:3 aspect ratio and were followed by a new look – an almost
“You have to overcome your own ambitions at times – and really contemplate when to show something, or when it’s better to stand back as things develop. At certain moments, you don’t over-craft it.” In fact, Hoffmeister is almost challenging the audience to fill in the gaps. He doesn’t believe in disrespecting their intelligence, especially in this current world with mountainous levels of available content. “We shouldn’t think they’re stupid,” he concludes.
Did you know? Main character Sunja is played over different time periods by three different actresses – Yu-na, Min-ha Kim and Oscar-winning Yuh-jung Youn.
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