The Magician Behind the Scenes: Sunghwan Moon

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Korean Film Editor Sunghwan Moon

 

No medium exhibits the importance of collaborating with a wide array of creative minds quite like film production. And possibly no other title at the center of this marvelous art form holds it all together like the position of an editor.

An actor’s rehearsed lines have no meaning without the editor’s contribution. The director’s constant input lacks any sort of importance or cohesion without the editor working his or his magic. And most importantly, the writer’s story has no discernible narrative if not for the hard work fashioned by the editor, which ties everyone’s work together in the final product.

Sunghwan Moon knows this better than anyone. His hard work, dedication, resilience, and knack for working well with others have helped establish him as a remarkable editor in the world of film and television.

It is no wonder that the Korean-born Moon was one of only 14 film editors selected annually to participate in the renowned American Film Institute (AFI) conservatory program.  His talents were quite apparent in the film and TV industries in Korea but once he moved to Los Angeles to attend AFI his career officially took off.

Attending AFI allowed Moon to build a significant and valuable network of relationships, including a couple of directors that would go on to provide him with some of the most challenging, yet satisfying jobs of his career to date.

One such film was director Kristine Namkung’s well-received romantic comedy Head Trauma. This film, which revolves around an Asian-American girl who gets a head injury and loses her ability to control her impulses, was right up Moon’s alley. The film’s simple yet elegant editing style helped gain attention noticed among festival goers including rave reviews at the Los Angeles Shorts Festival.

Shortly after receiving high praise for his work on the film, Moon’s successful momentum in the industry continued when he landed an editing position on writer-director Logan Sandler’s film Tracks. Starring Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton, Selma) and Dominique Razon (Criminal Minds, Scorpion) the film follows the life of an amateur skater who is left to care for the young daughter of his girlfriend on the day of an important skateboard tournament.

“The director’s vision for this film was very clear…He and the DP shot the film in a way so that the camera looks at the main character all the time like a documentary,” says Moon.

In fact, in order to emulate the appropriate effect for Tracks, Moon reached out to veteran editor Nicholas Chaudeurge (Still Alice, Fish Tank) whose work inspired Moon’s editing on Tracks. His advice was immensely helpful and shortly thereafter they became close friends.

“I tried to respect how it was shot and edit accordingly. And this film got into many festivals around the world including this year’s AFI FEST,” adds Moon.

In addition to being chosen as an Official Selection of the Cambridge Film Festival, Rome International Film Festival, and the 24FPS International Short Film Festival where it received a Best Actor Award for Keith Stanfield’s performance.

“I’m happy that he won because a big part of editor’s job is to shape actors’ performance,” explains Moon.

.Moon’s precise edits coupled with the enthralling story and crafty camera work earned the film a Grand Jury Prize nomination at the 2015 AFI Fest.

Moon definitely understands the importance of paying close attention to the director’s vision of any project, as well as the DP’s shooting technique in order to properly accomplish the desired effect.

He says, “In general, I believe how the footage is shot tells you how to edit. The footage tells you how to cut.”

Some of Sunghwan Moon’s other films to date include The Confession, The Superman, Mrs. Alderman, The Lost Generation, Together Alone and many more. Through each of his projects as lead editor it is easy to see this truly talented editor’s intuitive relationship with footage and his ability to create a seamless story that fits the goal of the film, no matter how different one project is from the next.

 

 

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