Baek Seung-kee's 'Super Nova' pays homages to 'Interstellar'
Plotlines from “Armageddon” (1998) and “Gravity” (2013), and scenes from 1997 film “Contact” and 2015 film “The Martian,” were inspiration for sci-fi movie “Super Nova,” created by part-time art teacher Baek Seung-kee. Baek drew on these films for his own movie, which is both a parody of and homage to Christopher Nolan’s 2014 movie “Interstellar.”
Baek’s film, which hit local theaters on March 25, was first shown at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival last year. Tickets for the two showings of the movie were sold out in just 45 seconds. Baek first submitted a movie to the festival in 2012 and has since established a loyal fan base.
The Korean title for “Super Nova” is “Incheon Stella” to represent that its relation to “Interstellar,” which depicts humans' journey to find a new planet to live on. During the search, a father and daughter scientists duo find a way to connect. Baek settled on the title after realizing the story he had in his mind was remarkably similar to the movie he went to see in November 2014.
Baek came up with the idea for the movie earlier that year when he was filming another movie in the Himalayas with actor Son Yi-yong, who played the lead character in “Super Nova.” The original idea of Baek’s was centered around a son who travels into space but then falls into the black hole and goes beyond space and time to meet with his late father.
Baek thought his movie would never be made, but then an idea struck. If his movie would be considered a copy of “Interstellar,” he would confront it head on and pay homage to the move.
“The boundary between a copy and homage is vague,” said Baek in a phone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “If it were to be a parody, it has to be obvious. I think it would be wrong of me to do the parody poorly. So I put all the space movies that I like in the movie I made.”
While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, was the entity featured in “Interstellar,” Baek created ASA, the Asian Aeronautics and Space Administration, which acted as the setting for where all the aerospace research is done.
Baek used a budget of 60 million won ($53,000) on "Super Nova," the largest he's ever had access to. He was awarded a sponsorship of 50 million won from the Incheon Film Commission, and gathered the additional 10 million won from companies which had product placements in the movie. In contrast, the budget for “Interstellar” was about $165 million.
“I was originally going to film in a room with no lights to achieve a space background without any computer graphics, but thankfully we got the production sponsored,” said Baek.
“Since it was the tax money of Incheon citizens, I really put my soul into it to make the movie good quality and not to waste a penny.”
Many of the places featured in the movie were filmed in areas in Incheon, which Baek had spotted while getting around his hometown.
Baek defines his movies as low budget, set in Incheon and starring Son Yi-yong. Son and Baek went to the same high school and even worked together as dance duo Risky. So far they've made four movies together.
“Low-budget, sub-culture movies aren't about having access to inferior things,” said Baek. “It’s about putting your best efforts into making the
best out of the things available to you. You give up what you have to give up and use the resources that you have.”
Baek established his own production company 10 years ago but continued working as a part-time art teacher to earn money to make films. This year he was assigned to be the art teacher for a class of high school freshmen.
“If you take a look at all four movies I have made, they all take love for mankind as the main theme,” he said. “I think I just have a big interest in humans.”
When he was making his first movie, he decided to make it "the worst" movie possible in order to learn as much as he could through the experience.
“Being poor isn’t a sin so we didn’t want to pretend as if we had something to show,” he said.
The next movie he is working on centers on a sports fan who devotes his entire life cheering for his team. The idea comes from a video he recently watched about a soccer fan of a not so famous team. The fan was just playing a drum, singing and cheering for the team all alone. When a player from his team scored a goal, and then approached that fan and bowed, the fan started to cry like a baby. He said he was so touched.
“Maybe we want to be cheered on by someone else,” he said. “My dream is to make movies of all kinds of genres until the moment I die.”
BY NA WON-JEONG [email@example.com]