Seoul Nights (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

Seoul Nights is a short film, written by Emil Lewis and is supposed to be a true story about an American guy named Jamie (Kyle Caldwell) who’s staying in South Korea to immerse himself in the club scene and have sex with lots of hot Korean girls. He teaches English on the side to make money to support his clubbing. He has two wannabe rapper friends named Tae Quinn Olbrich) and Mike (Daniel Alonso) who he goes clubbing with all the time. The ten minute story starts out with Jamie waking up with a one night stand, and ends up with him trying to score another, only things don’t work out the way he planned. As he’s trying to get the girl to leave the club with him, a Korean guy comes out and pushes him. They get in a fight, and the next thing you know, a cop is there. He gives the Korean guy a good punch, and then takes Jamie out and tells him to leave the country. In fact, he’s pretty adamant about it. In the narration, Jamie says he left a few days later, and that it’s all a distant memory to him, but it was the best lesson in other cultures that he ever had.

This is just a ten minute film, but it suffers from numerous problems, both techinical and non-technical. I’ll start with the non-technical ones first.

The biggest problem this film has is that it just sort of drops you into this guy’s life as he wakes up one morning with a one night stand sleeping next to him. She’s gone in a flash, he drinks more beer, sends an e-mail and then falls asleep until the evening when it’s time to go clubbing again. The narration basically talks about what I said above, but that’s really about all there is as far as story until the end when he gets in the fight with the Korean guy and they have to deal with the cop. I don’t even know who that guy was. I’m assuming it was a jealous ex-boyfriend or maybe just a Korean guy who didn’t want a white dude hitting on the Korean girls. I don’t know, because it wasn’t really explained at all. Then, when he first saw this girl in the club, she was sitting at the bar and his friend Tae got up and said he was going to get her for him, but then all of a sudden Tae’s gone, and Jamie is with the girl at the bar asking her to dance. Huh? Then the ending was just…flat. He’s walking down the sidewalk narrating about how he left a few days later and it was all just a distant memory. It was very anti-climactic and just sort of dropped everything with no real explanation.

Now onto the technical problems. While the camera work and editing were ok in this film, it did suffer from one huge tecnical flaw, and that was the sound recording and mixing. There were parts where the dialog was almost too quiet to hear, and others where it was recorded and mixed in way too loud. In the club scene in particular, when Jamie is at the table talking to Tae and Mike, the dialogue is coming out the left speaker while the music is mostly or entirely coming out the right. The recording and mixing needed a lot more attention and work during the production process, but aside from that, the film was ok from a production standpoint.

The acting in the film was ok, though it rarely felt natural at all. The dialog didn’t sound like it was memorized and recited robotically, but it was missing a naturalness that would allow you to actually connect with anyone in the film.

The film itself was shot on location in South Korea, and there was talk of possibly making a feature length version. While this film could have benefitted from at least ten extra minutes of running time to go a little more in depth with the characters and the situation, I’m not sure a feature length version of the film could keep a viewer interested. The characters would have to be given a lot more depth and dialog, and the technical issues would have to be corrected. If these things could be worked out, I could see where a feature length version could be possible, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it, at least not at this point. I’d prefer to see them focus on producing more short films for the time being to really develop and enhance their technical and production skills before taking on a feature. The potential is definitely there, it’s just going to take a lot of patience and hard work to take it to the next level.

If you’d like to check out the film, you can view it on YouTube here.