If you’re my friend on any social media outlet, you’ve probably noticed the sudden influx of high-quality (non-selfie) pictures of me and two other lovely ladies. Here’s the long, grueling tale of how those pictures came to be.
One morning I was asked by the property owner to play a role in the property’s new promotional video. I took a quick look at the script, which only had me saying 8-ish lines, and thought, “eh, what the heck, why not? It looks pretty painless. I’ll do it.” Because going abroad is all about ADVENTURE, right? And trying new things, right? Right? Hoo boy, am I an idiot…
Guess what? the filming was scheduled for 2 days AFTER they asked me to be in it. So, as soon as I agreed, my Kakao inbox was flooded with messages from the director and the property manager about where to meet, what time to meet, what to wear. I had to send several photos of different outfits to the director for her approval. Specifically, she wanted me to dress in a simple, casual clothes, like a student would. I’m thinking, “Well, I AM a student, so wouldn’t anything I wear on a normal day would make me LOOK like a student?” Apparently not. Since my small summer wardrobe I brought with me to Korea mainly consists of neutrals, I sent her pictures of me wearing combinations like a black shirt and jeans, a white shirt and jean skirt, simple, but very American style things (V-NECK. PLUNGING NECKLINE). Each picture was met responses like “No, no, no, don’t you have anything brighter?” “Is there something with a pattern?” “Do you have anything other than black?” If they were going to be so picky about what I’m wearing, they could’ve had a freaking wardrobe ready for me or bought me new clothes, but I digress… (Strike one.)
Eventually, I just decided to wear whatever I wanted, as long as it had some color in it and didn’t make me look like a sack of potatoes. White shirt, jeans, red headscarf from The Wrap Life. Turns out, this was a good idea because the director LOVED it. The other two girls who were asked to be in the video were very pretty and dressed in the casual Korean style (WHITE SHOES). Most of the morning was spent taking individual and group photos (which no one told me we would be doing….) After that, we were taken to different parts of Ewha’s campus to shoot our parts in the video. Luckily, we didn’t actually have to say any lines on camera, we just had to act out our parts and then record the voice-over later. This was a huge relief because it was difficult enough to take stage directions in Korean; I couldn’t imagine having to memorize and deliver lines perfectly too. I already found her directions difficult to follow. Sometimes it was because of the language barrier, and other times it was just because I found her directions nonsensical. She told me, for example, not “look lonely without looking sad.” I have yet to figure out that the heck that means, but I just kept making faces until she was satisfied or gave up.
(Real talk, we were pretty cute though…)
After lunch, we were taken to another location– the cafe in one of the new apartment buildings the property owner just had built– and were told to “eat, drink, and chat comfortably.” Mighty difficult to do when you’re being told when to take a bite of food, when to sip the coffee and which way to angle your chin, but there it is. Finally, after we shot all the scenes scheduled for that day, they let me do my voice-over and go home.
The second day of filming was pretty similar to the first, except I grew increasingly irritated when the director kept asking me to stare in the direction of THE SUN for a long period of time (Do I look like Trump during the eclipse to you, lady?) and she wouldn’t let me stop until I had a “thoughful, hopeful about the future” look on my face.
And I was even more irritated when I was asked (read: told) to edit the English version of the script, to write in natural English and match the Korean script. Like, at that point, I feel like they were just exploiting my native English speaker status. I was asked to be in a video, not be a translator and editor, but I digress…. (Strike two.) If I was more mean spirited, I totally would’ve just mucked the whole thing up on purpose. After that whole thing, I had to sit pretty and smile throughout this welcome party thing the property owner was hosting in the cafe. I couldn’t even relax and enjoy the food, or the traditional Korean music, or the company of my housemate because there was a camera being shoved into my face (on ZOOM) every few minutes. I’m not very good at hiding me feelings, so I had a feeling the irritation was showing on my face. After seeing the pictures from the shoot, that’s CONFIRMED.
(My face in all its shady glory)
Hate to be the one to ruin the mood of the party with my sour face but I was sick and tired of the whole thing by then. No one told me the filming would take two whole days, or that I would get stuck editing the crappy English translation of a Korean script that Google translate spat out. (No shade, Google translate; you’re definitely improving.) Plus, this was just three days after I’d arrived in Korea, so I was still jetlagged. I learned (again) that I should be turn into a PI and ask HELLA questions before I agree to ANYTHING. But I got through it. I got paid. I thought it was all over when I left the party. Hoo boy, am I a BIG idiot…)
About a week later, I get another message from the property manager asking me to come back to the cafe to take some more photos. I thought my face at the party had ruined the first batch of pictures completely and we had to redo them or something, so I had to live up to it and just go retake them. Nope. It was something different entirely. The manager met me in a suit and asked me to pretend to sit down and chat with him in the cafe. The same director from the PR shoot just starts taking a billion pictures of us. No instructions, no nothing. It was somehow even more awkward than the PR shoot. This didn’t take as long though; only 10 minutes. It was after this 10 minutes that the manager said, “If you’re in my new profile picture, it’ll get a lot of likes, don’t you think?”
Was this whole thing for a PERSONAL picture? Not something for promotional purposes? (Strike three….!)
You know, someone I met at Sogang two years ago told me that this kind of thing happens to foreigners in Korea all the time, but I didn’t want to believe her. Hoo boy, am I an idiot.