TM Chapter 58

Chapter 58: Begin Filming (1)

TL: emptycube


 

-Tell me.

CEO said without hesitation.

Although the thought that I should talk with Kim Hyunjo or the team 3 leader first briefly crossed my mind, I had already set my mind.

I never knew CEO Baek Hansung would personally call me.

Let’s act first and report later. If I talk to Kim Hyunjo tomorrow. Hmm. I guess I’d get the same look I’ve received a few times.

The ‘he’s crazy’ look.

I relaxed and calmed myself down with my mother’s ginger honey tea before saying,

“About what you said last time. If Cat Guardian Ghost is a success, to tell you then…”

-Ah.

A low laugh.

Was it because he was the CEO? Why couldn’t I even listen to his laughter comfortably?

-It looks like you found something you wanted?

As carefully as possible, I talked about Son Chaeyoung, Teacher Shim Kyungtaek, and Lee Songha. It seemed he had already heard this from the team 3 leader as he also seemed to know the whole story.

While I was seriously setting things up for my final words, CEO Baek Hansung indicated he was listening with short replies.

After I expressed everything I could, I said,

“Rather than a spoken apology… I’d like if she paid the appropriate price.”

-How odd.

“Pardon?”

The voice from the other end continued.

-When I listen to you talk, it feels like you are certain the drama will do well.

“Th-that’s because it’s a good drama. I believe that it will definitely be a success.”

Good. That seemed natural.

-Okay. Then try making it a success. I’ll think about the price.

I clenched my fist.

Teacher Shim Kyungtaek’s overbearing face and Son Chaeyoung’s mocking face appeared in front of me. I thought I’d have trouble sleeping after seeing those two poor excuses for human beings today, but my mind became calm at last.

Then I suddenly recalled CEO Baek Hansung’s motive for calling me.

“What you wanted to ask me was…”

Just what did he have to ask me?

While spinning my head and thinking of different circumstances, I heard a relaxed voice.

-That drama. How do you think it’ll do in China?

“Pardon?”

-I’m asking a lucky person to guess.

*

Beijing, China.

In the living room of the glamorous suite room lavished in red, CEO Baek Hansung, who was leaning against a spacious sofa, said a few more words before hanging up. He tossed his phone to the side of the sofa and threw his head back.

“CEO, we need to go down in twenty minutes.”

The director entered the living room and sat on the sofa. His exhaustion due to the busy schedule was clearly evident on his face. Although they were on the same schedule, he looked twice as exhausted as CEO Baek Hansung.

“But who did you call for so long? Was it the team 3 leader again?”

CEO Baek Hansung, who was lost in thought with his eyes closed, curled his lips into a smile.

“No, Jung Sunwoo.”

“Who? Jung Sunwoo… Jung Sun- The team 3 Luck Tosser?”

When the director became puzzled, CEO Baek Hansung’s smile grew even more apparent.

“There was something I wanted to ask him.”

“Just what did you have to ask him… Ah, the problem regarding Chaeyoung and Songha?”

“There’s that too. I asked him to guess what the reaction of Cat Guardian Ghost would be in China.”

Taken aback, the director said exasperatingly,

“… He’s not some sort of shaman. At this rate, we might have to pay him a commission.”

While sitting on the sofa and looking through the thick folder he had brought, the director asked,

“So what did he say.”

CEO Baek Hansung paused for a moment. As if out of habit, his white, long finger tapped on the sofa.

“He said he thinks it’ll be good.”

“Oh, I wish it does. But, while it’s true that his ability is extraordinary at times, I don’t know about his senses. The reason why he rejected Dowon when he asked him to be his manager, it seemed that he later said he got a bad vibe.”

“… Really?”

His finger stopped in midair.

CEO Baek Hansung straightened his relaxed posture. He brushed back his tangled hair and narrowed his eyes. His eyes shined as if he found a good source of entertainment.

“He said he got a bad vibe from Sung Dowon?”

“Well, it was probably a joke.”

“Quite odd…”

Then the director said to the quietly mumbling CEO,

“Ah, there’s one more. I heard this from the PR team. Well, they told me this was also said as a joke.”

“Hmm?”

“Mermaid out of Water, he said he got a bad vibe about that too.”

This time, CEO Baek Hansung tilted his head.

“Now that’s unexpected.”

“That’s why I’m not sure about his senses. It might just be his habit.”

The director changed the subject.

“But, did Luck Tosser say anything about the problem regarding Son Chaeyoung?”

“Ah. We decided to talk about it again in January.”

“January? Why…”

“The two dramas start broadcasting that time.”

CEO Baek Hansung’s tone was mixed with interest and an odd feeling.

“What does that have to do with…”

The director cut his words short when he saw the CEO lost in thought.

After around 10 minutes had passed, CEO Baek Hansung stretched as his muscles inside his thin shirt showed their vigor. After ridding himself of exhaustion, he stretched out his hand.

“The portfolios?”

“Ah, I did prepare them as you told me to.”

The director took out a few portfolios from the folder he was holding.

“Everyone else’s image isn’t really good enough to replace Dowon… The advertisers want a high-class, refined image. Jijoon is the closest to what they are looking for, but he’s not well-known in China.”

CEO Baek Hansung received the portfolios and wordlessly flipped through them. The director scratched his half-balding head and asked in a quiet voice, even though they were the only two there,

“But… Why are you trying to replace Dowon? The advertisers chose Dowon, and since they’ve clearly experienced the effects of marketing with a star, they will try not to let him go.”

CEO Baek Hansung stared at Sung Dowon’s portfolio in his hand. Sung Dowon’s profile picture was of him, barefooted in a white dress shirt, lying down on a sandy beach with a smile. It was the cool, elegant smile that made him a popular Hallyu{1} star.

“We need to clean up the uncontrollable bomb.”

CEO Baek Hansung closed the portfolio and tossed it below the sofa.

Looking at this, the director subtly licked his lips and said,

“What about Chaeyoung? Apparently, the advertisers had wanted to keep Dowon and replace Chaeyoung with a new face, but they stopped once Mermaid out of Water received heated reactions in China.”

“Really?”

“Although Korea is in a frenzy about Cat Guardian Ghost, the reactions for Mermaid out of Water is pretty good here. Well, since it’s to the point where the copyrights for this unreleased drama sold for $1.7 million.”

After rubbing his chin multiple times, CEO Baek Hansung placed Seo Jijoon’s portfolio on the table. Then pushed Son Chaeyoung’s portfolio, which was next to it, aside and replaced it with a thin, paltry portfolio.

It was Lee Songha.

“How does this look?”

“Uh, umm… They look good. They look good, but I don’t think the advertisers will like it.”

The director, who had replied hesitantly, scratched the hair behind his ear.

“Not many people know Jijoon here, but Songha is completely unknown. Maybe if, like Luck Tosser said, the drama is a big hit in China, but that’s something decided by heavens. Would it really be that lucky?”

“We have to see. Did you say that contracts of the Cat Guardian Ghost copyrights are still ongoing?”

“It looks like Pan Production is trying their best, but it seems the contract needs more adjustments. It looks like they are in a bit of a mess because it hasn’t been long since the production itself was founded, and above all, they don’t have a Hallyu star to push. Maybe I should have talked to Blackout since playing around after their concert.”

The director mumbled while licking his lips.

CEO Baek Hansung checked his watch and leisurely wore his necktie.

Soon, he opened his mouth.

“Find out the CEO of Pan Production’s number.”

“Pardon?”

“Also, tell him to get meetings with a few big online video platforms here.”

The director let out a silent sigh as he expected that, listening to the CEO’s words, they would have to push back their return date. Unlike the director’s round, slumped shoulders, CEO Baek Hansung’s lips curved upwards as he gazed at the three portfolios on the table.

“… I’m curious about this as well.”

“What?”

“How much of Jung Sunwoo’s vibes are correct.”

*

It felt like I was speeding on the Autobahn in a sports car.

Each day passed by at lightning speed. Although I had never gone to the autobahn or ridden in a sports car, I just thought it would feel like this.

Extremely fast.

In a blink of an eye, we had another filming of Next K-Star and two more episodes of it had been broadcast. The highest viewership rating was 3.1% on the first broadcast, 3.6% on the second, and 3.9% on the third. It kept reaching a new highest viewership rating every broadcast and continued to go up.

Maybe it was because we were close to hitting 4%, but the staff’s smiles were reaching their ears.

Although Producer Go Joontae still put Neptune, especially focusing on Lee Songha, through various edits and milked Lee Songha’s trendiness, he didn’t directly screw them over again like the first broadcast. Of course, since we didn’t know when he would screw us over again, we had to keep our eyes open.

Either way, since their faces kept showing up on screen, they were becoming more and more well-known, and since they continuously received good scores from the judges, they were gradually building the image of a talented girl group.

Broadcasts were indeed great as, once their name became a little known, they started to receive more event requests and increased pay, and they now made enough to at least pay their makeup expenses. This was worth clapping for.

“We’re almost done.”

Accompanied by the cold night air, the traitor entered the open hall.

“Did you smoke?”

“Does it smell?”

“Of course it does. You didn’t smoke before, right?”

“I quit… But I started craving it recently.”

The traitor clicked his tongue as he shook his clothes. Maybe it was because of the cigarette, but his face, which looked as exhausted as Kim Hyunjo’s, seemed to have found some of its vigor.

Due to my family environment, I never touched a cigarette during school or even mandatory military service, but I’ve become tempted recently. Other team managers would look livelier after a smoke during filming as if they had an IV injection.

“Today’s Songha’s first drama filming, right?”

“Yeah. Finally.”

After finishing the photo shoot for the poster and Gosa{2}, Cat Guardian Ghost began filming not too long ago. They were busy filming the flashback scenes of the male and female leads before snow started to fall. Although it was Songha’s first filming today, I heard that Seo Jijoon and Chief Lee Bongjoon were already spending their days going back and forth between the outdoor and indoor film sets.

“Are you going to the set right after this recording?”

“Yeah. They said we need to be on standby by 4 a.m.”

It currently just past midnight right now. We needed to dash to the film set after erasing her performance makeup, putting on new makeup, and changing her outfit. While I was looking at my watch and estimating the time, the traitor let out a small sigh and said,

“Then you probably won’t be able to come to work tomorrow. I’ll text you the details of the meeting.”

“There was a meeting?”

“We’re starting meetings discussing the girls’ next mini album.”

Ah, right. We were.

There were countless celebrities who faded into obscurity after the programs, that made them well-known, ended. To prevent this from happening to Neptune, we were carefully considering our next step.

The most important thing was Neptune’s next mini album, which would be released early next year.

This was because, while we are focusing on entertainment shows and dramas, Neptune was a girl group. If they even had one hit song the general public knew the melody of, their activities could greatly expand to performances, events, autograph events, as well as others.

Because their future would be well set if this album was a success, all related employees were mobilized and were putting their heart and soul into it. Since there weren’t only one or two albums with Neptune’s name on it that failed, it felt like they were all grounding their teeth in determination.

Kim Hyunjo had pretty much become a roaming zombie, yet full of drive, trying to prevent Neptune from quickly falling from the music charts this time.

The only person who felt more expectant than pressured or worried was probably me.

Since I knew that there was a very likely chance that Neptune’s next title track would reach first on the music charts.

 

“Hey, Lee Songha. Good luck with filming!”

Said Im Seoyoung as she rubbed her tired eyes in front of their residence. Lee Taehee and LJ held their yawns back as they added their own words of encouragement.

“Songha, good luck. Don’t be pressured since it’s your first filming.”

“Do they give you breakfast there? I set aside some snacks in the back seat so if you’re hungry, of course, you will be, you can eat it all.”

Lee Songha was the only one left in the van as she nodded her head in front of the window. Of course, she showed the greatest reaction to LJ’s words.

I was about to start the van when Im Seoyoung said some gloomy words from outside.

“You have to do better than Son Chaeyoung! Son Chae-!”

“Don’t give her pressure, dummy!”

The back mirror reflected Im Seoyoung getting hit in the back of her head by LJ.

Kim Hyunjo and I tidied up Son Chaeyoung and Teacher Shim Kyungtaek’s atrocities before telling the girls, but wow, their reactions were killer. Either way, Son Chaeyoung became their mutual enemy at their residence.

Lee Taehee was silently angry, while LJ threw an uppercut to Im Seoyoung’s cat doll and ripped its leg. Im Seoyoung printed out a humiliating photo of Son Chaeyoung, placed in an easily viewable spot in the living room, and made time to appreciate it every day.

I heard that the company would have a New Year’s party at the beginning of the year. I couldn’t imagine what would happen when they met Son Chaeyoung there.

Well, since we weren’t sure, I jokingly talked with Kim Hyunjo about it.

Asking whether we should prepare a few cakes at our table.

We visited the shop, finished our preparations for the shoot, and immediately drove to the outdoor film site next to Han River. Lee Songha, who was sitting in the back seat, was eating the snacks prepared by LJ as if they were military provisions as she flipped through her script.

Looking at her expression, it seemed she had partially gotten into the role of Jung Haewon already.

I shouldn’t bother her.

Although it was very late, there were almost a hundred people crowding the filming set on Han riverbank. I slowly approached before opening the van window and sticking my head out. I was faced with the wet, howling wind along with the loud noises on set.

There was a long crane, lighting equipment, cameras, thick cables, and people going around holding reflectors. I was seeing the busy filming site I had only seen in behind-the-scenes videos with my own two eyes.

I felt adrenaline surging within me. I probably had the same face the quadruplets would have when they arrived at an amusement park.

When I parked the van between other vans, a familiar assistant director knocked on the window.

“You’ve come?”

“Yes, you’re working hard when it’s so late.”

“This is nothing since we’re only starting. Nothing.”

The assistant director gestured to the film site with his chin and said worriedly,

“The staff who didn’t get to see the script reading session as well as extras. They are all talking a ton about Lee Songha. Since this is Han River, there will be a big crowd of people when the day brightens… The director was worried Lee Songha would feel pressured. Will she be okay?”

I turned to my back.

Lee Songha was staring at the cover of the script. No. I couldn’t really tell whether she was looking at the cover or if the cover just happened to be where she was staring at. Beside her were leftover snacks she hadn’t finished yet.

I nodded my head to the assistant director.

“I think it’ll be fine.”

“Yes, then…”

The assistant director shouted into the intercom on the headset around his neck.

“Lee Songha has arrived!”

Then he briefly placed his ear next to the headset before looking in my direction.

“Yes, Lee Songha will do a rehearsal first…”

Then said his final words.

“Then immediately begin filming!”

 


{1} Hallyu – a term to indicate Korean entertainment and music spreading overseas.

{2} A ritual to avoid misfortune and bring good luck.

 

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