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A Thousand Faces Chapter 39

Updated: Feb 14

"Are you sure that's okay?" 


Junwoo's lips curled up in satisfaction. 


Seeing his contented expression, Choi Han-gyeol thought to himself, 'Got him right where we want him.' 


'...But why do I feel uneasy?' 


There seemed to be a hint of something predatory in the kid's smile. 


The rookies, nodding in agreement, suddenly felt a chill run down their spines. Instinctively, they glanced at the firmly closed door of the practice room. 


Junwoo's gaze swept across the empty room before settling on the wall clock. 


His expression showed a hint of dissatisfaction. 


"First, let's start with the script." 


"The script?" 


Swiftly, Junwoo pulled out something from behind. 


"... What's that?" 


How could that bundle of papers be a script? It looked like it could've been picked from a trash bin. 


It seemed to be a collection of used paper, with each actor's section formatted slightly differently. 


The rookies, dumbfounded as they received Junwoo's script, were baffled. 


'When did he...?' 


'Did he anticipate a fallout?' 


Junwoo gave them some time to familiarize themselves with the script. As soon as the rookies indicated they had understood it, 

"You said you've done a lot of filming. Let's start with the basic setup." 


He positioned them along the wall. 


Junwoo then walked towards the empty space in the center of the practice room. 


"Due to production limitations, we can only use three cameras. There are two support cameras here, and the main one is here. 


The angle will be high... Ah, it would be great to have a crane or a gimbal, but is that possible?" 


"...Uh? Maybe if we talk to the company...?" 


Choi Han-gyeol, not fully understanding, responded tentatively. 


Junwoo began outlining the placement of the overall equipment. 


He thought for a moment, then gestured at waist height as if operating a piece of equipment. Then he twirled his finger above his head at a specific spot. 


"The key light will be cast from here, at this angle. C-stands here, backlights and fill lights..." 


The rookies watched, bemused. They couldn't fully grasp what Junwoo was describing. 


Choi Han-gyeol whispered to his side. 


"What's he doing, gesturing at thin air..?" 


"I have no idea what he's talking about." 


Junwoo immediately furrowed his brow. 


"Are you listening? Aren't you paying attention?" 


"Oh, yes, we're listening." 


Choi Han-gyeol blurted out a response without even realizing it. 


"From here all the way to here, there will be a pan, and it's estimated to take about 7 seconds. The movement and emotions need to synchronize, so acting is crucial. You can do it, right?" 


Junwoo was speaking to Shin Dami. She couldn't bring herself to nod. 


In typical films, pans or zooms are often used for inserts. Junwoo was calculating camera movements and speed in sync with the actor's emotions. 


The more Shin Dami listened, the more she was awestruck. 


Actors, cameras, equipment, external factors – everything was harmoniously integrated. 


This meant that Junwoo had already visualized the entire sequence from start to finish in his mind. 


'It's not just talk. He has a clear vision of the angles and shots he wants.' 


A perfect understanding of equipment like cranes, dollies, and Steadicams, the detailed methods to substitute these with the available cameras for the team mission, the post-production adjustments of light and color to make the scene realistic for the audience. 


He even considered factors like weather and the sun's position, though it seemed challenging. 


"Didn't they say he hasn't done filming before..." 


Choi Han-gyeol, who had been listening in a daze, muttered to himself. 


Junwoo paced around the practice room, ceaselessly explaining every detail. 


Shin Dami struggled to grasp the intent behind the words Junwoo casually threw out. 


In a film production, there are various roles assigned for its creation. 

Actors, directors of photography, lighting directors, key grips, DPs (directors of photography), operators, cinematographers, and other staff members. 




How could one even describe it? 


It was like watching someone who had invented film itself orchestrating everything from the ground up. 


Such a feat seemed impossible in an empty practice room. 


Shin Dami thought about her own experiences on set, the long nights spent researching films, the days she lost weight from the stress and effort. 


Without those experiences, she wouldn't have been able to feel such awe. 


'You should be clinging to this opportunity, and what are you doing instead?' 


Shin Han-jun's words came back to her. Did he really know what he was talking about? 


Probably not. If it had been her, she would never have thought of putting someone like Junwoo together with a group like theirs. 


Shin Dami felt incredibly foolish for practicing without Junwoo to guide them to an extent that she couldn't even express. 


"That's all for now. Everyone got it?" 


The session ended while they were still in a daze. 


Their faces showed clear confusion about what they were supposed to remember. 


And when the actual practice began, 




"Where are you looking? The camera is right here. Were you listening earlier?" 


Junwoo flicked his finger in the air as if pointing to a camera. 


A camera? Where...? The rookies were utterly bewildered. 


"You got the lines wrong." 


He seemingly knew every line and cue of all roles, 


"You're going to walk away like a fool after delivering such a cool line? Come back and do it again." 


The direction included adjustments in walking and gestures. 


The newcomers were overwhelmed. Even under the strict directors they had worked with during filming and during the Spartan training at the agency as trainees, it was never this intense. 


"What are you doing right now? You're completely failing to immerse yourself." 


"How can we possibly do this scene right now? Just the physical part alone would take at least two weeks." 


"The problem is that your actions and emotions aren't aligned. When you're driven by such emotions and thoughts, movements should come instinctively. Right now, you're just spouting your lines and floundering." 


Junwoo was demanding an unrealistic scene, one that even involved action, insisting that every movement be imbued with emotion. 


It was beyond their comprehension at this early stage, barely a day into practice. 


"How can we grasp the emotions when we haven't even fully contemplated our characters yet?" 


"That's why we're practicing now." 


Practice? This felt nothing like practice, just a session without cameras. 


"Are you deliberately trying to mess with us? Normally, we'd start with a script reading. Why should an actor worry about cameras and all these unnecessary things?" 


Choi Han-gyeol, clearly frustrated, shook his script roughly and spoke up. 


But his complaints didn't sway Junwoo, who remained firm. 


"What are you talking about? You need to understand to act." 


Junwoo was a bit exasperated. It seemed they were not getting the right feel. 


"Then, if I show you, can you follow it exactly?" 


"Show us what?" 


Junwoo began demonstrating each role right there on the spot. With limited time, he swiftly moved from one scene to another, showcasing an incredible ability to immerse himself in each moment. 


'...What is he?' 


His demonstration even incorporated the acting habits and characteristics unique to each of the rookies. It was a display tailored to help them overcome their ingrained habits in a short period. 


"Think you can do it?" 


No one could respond. 


The rookies realized belatedly that they had been completely captivated until just moments ago. They couldn't even tell how much time had passed. Overwhelmed and dispirited by the shock of what they had witnessed, they couldn't muster the courage to try and follow his lead. 


It was then that they realized something they had overlooked. 


The rumors about Junwoo that had been circulating weren't about anything else but his incredible acting skills. 


Then, what did all of that mean until now? 


'He expects us to act in a film under his direction? Wouldn't it be faster if he just played all the roles himself?' 


Junwoo swiftly shifted his gaze towards Shin Dami. 


"And the lead role is the most important..." 


Shin Dami was completely out of her element, overwhelmed to the point of not even being able to assess what she could or couldn't do. 


Seeing her in such a state only made Junwoo more certain of his approach. He turned his attention to the firmly closed door of the practice room. 


'This is going to take even longer...' 


Outside, Park Jun-gil and Shin Hanjun observed the situation through a window. 


"Did they say that practice started five hours ago?" 




Junwoo's voice carried out of the practice room. 




A rookie was attempting something in front of Junwoo. Before they could even finish their movement, 


-Again, please. 


At that moment, Shin Hanjun made brief eye contact with the rookie. 


Shin Hanjun was slightly taken aback. Why do they look relieved to see me? 


It was a look that seemed to plead, almost as if silently begging for rescue. 




In front of the exhausted rookies, whose focus was fading, Junwoo's face remained utterly impassive. 


It seemed as if their physical stamina and energy were of no concern to Junwoo. 


Shin Hanjun suddenly felt a bit sorry. 


"...If I had known it would be like this, I should have been a bit more gentle earlier." 




Junwoo had now shifted his full attention to Shin Dami. 


"Just think of it as a slight difference." 


Shin Dami managed to follow the role as defined by Junwoo to some extent. 


The tone, personality, emotions. But there was still something missing. 


"Again, please. It's too realistic." 


It was as if she was just immersing herself in the role as it would be in real life. 


Shin Dami realized she knew very little about herself. 


"You inherently possess a certain energy. It's not visible normally, but it shows on screen. It's still vague, but it's there." 




Shin Dami seemed utterly perplexed, as if she had just heard something profound. 


Junwoo furrowed his brow. 


"It's not bad. The problem is that you're not utilizing it at all." 


Shin Dami needed a presence that could dominate the screen. 


It made sense she hadn't been able to utilize it before; she had never taken a lead role. 


She had always tried to diminish her presence, never having considered how she might appear as the center of a story, how she should act, or how she should speak. 


During the practice, Junwoo noticed something about Shin Dami: 

Her unique quality became pronounced when she delivered her lines. 


She had a voice that sounded comfortable yet somehow not quite at ease. 


Junwoo felt a fleeting aura when Shin Dami's slightly discordant tone and composed demeanor came together in a scene. 


Even when zoomed in on her face alone, she stood out distinctly from the others. 


But having cast her as the lead, Junwoo couldn't be satisfied with just this. 


"But is it really possible to achieve that through technique or skill? Maybe I'm just not good enough." 


"It's possible. It's not exactly a technique." 


Junwoo was resolute. And then, 


"Let's redo that last scene." 


Again? Shin Dami was already on her twelfth repetition of the same scene, feeling her energy waning. But still, 


"Okay. The same way?" 


"Yes. Just the same." 


She continued without showing her fatigue. 


Because Junwoo was looking for something. With each repetition, he scrutinized Shin Dami from various angles. 


"Take a breath right before the last line. Not too deep, just for about 2 seconds." 


"Chew on each syllable of that sentence before you spit it out." 


"Stop for a second. No, not then, right before that." 


"Your gaze is too constant. Look at your scene partner only when you say the last word. Make it definite." 


Focusing on every single line of Shin Dami's, Jun-woo repeated a cycle of review and modification. 


Though she didn't fully understand the purpose, Shin Dami gradually altered the delivery of her lines, following Junwoo's directions. 


Throughout the process, Junwoo occasionally tilted his head in thought and nodded in approval. 


'How does this minor adjustment relate to that 'energy' he mentioned...' 


Shin Dami couldn't understand it, but she followed his instructions anyway. It felt like the right thing to do. 


Meanwhile, Choi Han-gyeol and the other team members became mere spectators, unable to do anything but watch the scene unfold. 


After nine long hours of practice, the attitudes of the NK rookies had completely transformed. 


They realized this was not the time to assert their pride or experience. It was a time for learning and growth. 


The sense of relief from finally escaping the grueling practice was short-lived for Choi Han-gyeol, who felt somewhat aggrieved. 


He suddenly interjected into the conversation. 


"Does it really work that way? Presence isn't something you can achieve technically." 


In truth, Choi Han-gyeol was no longer sure of anything. But he felt the need to speak up, especially if he couldn't be the main focus. 


"If it was that easy to fix, then anyone could be an actor." 


But there was something he didn't know. Junwoo, with an annoyed look, glanced over at him. 


"Exactly. If anyone could do it, I wouldn't be focusing solely on this person." 


Choi Han-gyeol flinched. Was he just implied to be as incapable as an animal? 


"So what are we supposed to do now? Just make her shine, and that's it? Shouldn't the whole cast thrive for the work to come alive?" 


He couldn't bring himself to ask for the same level of attention Shin Dami was receiving. 


With what little pride he had left, Choi Han-gyeol posed his question. To Junwoo, it sounded almost like whining. 


Junwoo glanced not just at Choi Han-gyeol but also at the other remaining team members, then slightly furrowed his brow. Why are they just sitting there doing nothing? 


"Focus on following what I showed you earlier. The rest of you won't even need close-up shots anyway." 


The newcomers bristled at this. Since when had they become just 'the rest'? As actors of a top South Korean entertainment company, they had their pride. This kind of treatment was new to them. 


Ironically, more than anger, they felt a profound sense of disappointment. 


Choi Han-gyeol had been confused from the start. 


"Are you just going to keep acting like a teacher and only give instructions?" 


Huh? Junwoo was perplexed by the question itself. 


"Then who should do it?" 

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