All about an animation producer! An interview with producer Kim Jong-Min from the Animation Division of CJ E&M, who directed [Sinbi Apartment] and [Papa Dog]
What dreams did you have in your childhood? As an adult, have you realized your dreams in life? Some say that a dream is beautiful only when it is a dream, and others say a dream is something that comes true.
There is one man whom I want to ask about dreams - Producer Kim Jong-Min from Animation Production 1 Team of the Animation Business Division of CJ E&M, who grew up as a "comic book store kid" and is now working as an animation producer. CJ Creative Journal recently met with producer Kim Jong-Min, who is living his dream in reality.
"A single animation may change the future of a youth."
If you are old enough to know how an elementary school was called in the old days in Korea, you might also remember video tapes. If you insert a tape in a player and press the play button, you might have seen this. Do you remember what it was?
It's a public service advertisement that says "In the old days, children were most afraid of tiger attacks, smallpox and war, but children in modern times watch illegal videos...A single film may change the future of a person."
Whenever I watched the ad, I would remark how “a single film” could change the life of a person.
But in fact, no one knows what will happen in the future. Actually, I met a person whose life was changed due to a single film.
Producer Kim Jong-Min from Animation Production 1 Team, Animation Business Division of CJ E&M was not a "congenial" student who knows only home, school and private institution, speaking only nice words.
He preferred a comic book store rather than a private institution, and would read a damp, smelly comic book at breakneck speed. The stories of black and white filled in comic squares were engraved into the imagination of the boy.
The life-changing piece of work for Kim was Macross, a series of Japanese anime in the 1980s. Watching the near-future cosmic fantasy romance, he came to the decision that:
"I will become a person who makes animation films. I will become a person who reveals stories."
He arrived here after walking amid the forest of stories and flying over the far ocean.
The forest of stories through which he walked through until he became an animation producer was a long way to walk. When he worked as a show scriptwriter at Mnet, he joined some programs such as [Jung Jae-Yong's Pure 19] and [Flowerboy Arongsate!]. With his distinctive witty imagination, he made viewers laugh out loud every time.
And it was as natural as breathing for him to change his job to an animation producer. Everybody knew he was an animation buff and former comic book store kid and his unlimited imagination was proven by the shows he made. When Tooniverse posted a recruitment advertisement for experienced producers, everybody pointed out in the direction of producer Kim Jong-Min.
“Animation producers are largely divided into three types. First, a pre (pre-production)’ PD is responsible for planning, scenario and story. They are like a role combining film planner and director.
Second, a main production PD is responsible for producing. It is all about visual work for an animation film. They embody characters, perform graphics work and draw pictures.
Third, a post (post-production) PD is responsible for post-production of animation films such as dubbing and music.”
Producers at Tooniverse are divided into two types of producer: pre-PD and post-PD. Post-PDs are in charge of localization and dubbing of imported animation films, which we usually think of as the job of producers at Tooniverse.
After experiencing various jobs, Kim joined the Animation Business Division of CJ E&M, which was launched in 2015, as a pre-PD.
Marking his fourth year as an animation producer, Kim has so far produced some works such as "Papa Dog" and "Sinbi Apartment: The Secret of the Ghost Ball".
Probably due to having made them with great care and affection, spending 2-3 years for each work, his face lit up in excitement while he was explaining about his works.
"The last viewer that is easy to satisfy is myself. While I am producing a work, I ask myself hundreds of times. 'Are you interested?' 'Do you want to continue watching it?' No matter what others say, if I cannot feel anything interesting or meaningful, that's not right."
This is probably why we can feel his somewhat mischievous humor from the stories of [Papa Dong] where a father suddenly becomes a dog or [Sinbi Apartment] where children go out to catch ghosts.
After all, we each have an inner troublemaker, don’t we?
CJ E&M is expanding the territory of its content empire at a faster pace by entering the world of animation development after filmmaking. The Animation Business Division of CJ E&M is currently a group of some of the most dynamic creators.
The division is making animation films that apply to various platforms including television, cinema and mobile, based on Tooniverse, Korea's No.1 kids' media source, expanding its presence to the global market beyond Korea, including China, the US and Europe.
Although he is looking far and walking fast, the essence of an animation creator he believes was much simpler than we expected.
"I think every animator is a kind of troublemaker." From childhood, they like doing something different, imagining, reading comic books and imagining their own animation while watching cartoons drawn on paper.
I think an animation producer is a person who has dreamed of their own world and imagined their own stories inside the world."
I nodded my head when I heard his explanation. While watching works made by globally famous animation studios, such as Pixar, Ghibli and Disney, I think I have never paid much attention as to where they were produced and how detailed their subtitles were.
Instead, I remember getting lost in the world of imagination they presented to me, thinking that 'the way they think is not much different from ours'. The creators at the Animation Business Division of CJ E&M are troublemakers who won't grow up and people who are lost in making imagination into reality with the heart of fandom.
Animation is powered by fandom? No! It's an art of communication, cooperation and teamwork.
What messages will producer Kim Jong-Min want to deliver to aspiring animation producers?
"I think what is as important as what I like and know, animation is the power of planning. This is because the role of an animation producer is to make a work that can be seen, understood and enjoyed by the public rather than something I like. I want to say that you can't succeed as an animation producer only with your fandom.
It is right that an animation producer should be assumed by those who have read lots of comic books and love animated films but, at the same time, the job is for those who can create a story while envisioning a big picture like a film director or a theater director."
Kim says that over the past 15 years of his working for media, he have experienced both types of PD: a PD who had little he wanted to do and a PD who had too much he wanted to do. He says that a good producer is the one who keeps his balance between the two extremes and seeks to find an answer for what he really wants to do.
"Another tip is that animation requires teamwork among people who know how to communicate with others and work along with others. Animation production requires collaboration among many different people in pre-production, main production and post-production.
The problem is that there are some fandoms who emphasize their own world too much. It is true that imagination and inspiration come from my own world but don't forget that you cannot turn it into reality without the power of communication and collaboration."
Regardless of one's calendar age, the eyes of a person reveal the true age of the person. Look at their eyes and you will see what kind of dreams they have and how truly old they are.
From the eyes of Producer Kim Jong-Min from the Animation Business Division of CJ E&M, I could sometimes read a smile of an 11-year-old troublemaker who thinks it's lots of fun, and sometimes the seriousness of a worker in his thirties who contemplates what he can do for his colleagues.
I wanted to ask him who is living his young dream in reality. "Which one is happier: realizing your dream or leaving your dream as a dream?"
But I decided not to ask the question because I felt stupid to ask a question that has no right answer. One thing I learned for sure is that: producer Kim is a happy person as he can live his dreams right now.