HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with writer, director, producer, actor, editor Josh Kim writer of How To Win at Checkers (Every Time)

This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
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Next up: an interview with writer, director, producer, actor, editor Josh Kim writer of How To Win at Checkers (Every Time)
josh kimJosh KIM started production as an intern at NPR in Washington DC and later moved to CNN in Hong Kong. In 2010, he worked as an Associate Producer on the Korean remake of John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2010. He has since directed videos for Google, UEFA and Elite Models. His debut feature film, How To Win At Checkers (Every Time), premiered this year at the Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival.
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced?
police box 1My first short film is called The Police Box. I shot it in 2006 when I was living in Hong Kong.



  1. Can you tell us a bit about the journey as to how it came about?
Originally, I was planning to study for a year in Hong Kong to build up a portfolio so I could apply to film schools in the US. But after the first 3 months of classes, I dropped out and convinced my parents to let me use the remaining tuition money to make a short film.

  1. Tell me a little bit about the experience of having the project come to completion. 

Making this first short film was my film education. I was able to see the whole workflow from beginning to end.


  1. What was the hardest obstacle to overcome in achieving that first project?

I think just getting used to the camera set up times. I had no idea it took so long to set up the camera and lighting for each shot. Originally, I had only budgeted a few hours at the bar. I think in the end, we had to come back to the bar another day to finish the shoot.

In terms of the first feature film, I think one of the biggest lessons was learning to look at the emotional arch of the story instead of the plot. Plot can be changed around so easily, people’s emotions less so.


  1. What have you learned about the industry when it comes to being a writer?

how to win posterIf you are not confident in writing something from scratch try finding a short story which you can use as an anchor. Many times these are writers who have not been discovered yet so it’s easier to secure the necessary option. And because of the short length of the source material it still gives you room to add your own voice.

How To Win At Checkers (Every Time) came about this way as well. It was originally a book of short stories, I chose two which I felt I could add value to and reworked it into one feature story.



  1. What are you working on now?

I have this side project called Google Glass Diaries. They are these one-minute videos documenting the lives of people around the world from their own POV. It keeps me sane for the times when projects are stalled and I am sitting around doing nothing but waiting.


  1. What is your favorite movie or TV series?

I like a lot of things. You can learn a lot from even the bad ones – like what not to do.


  1. Where do you think the movie and television industry is heading?  What do you think its future is?

I’m excited about virtual and augmented reality.


  1. What parting advice do you have for writers?

how to win 3If you’re stuck, go lie on the bed, take a nap, watch a movie, eat out by yourself or go out for a walk. A lot of times, I find solutions to problems I have in the script when I do these activities.


  1. What do you do when you’re not writing?  What do you do to get away from the industry?

I read a lot. Watch movies and listen to music. Also temp work is not a bad thing as it provides a way to make a living and by the time you finally stop working you have become so motivated (i.e. guilt-tripped) into being productive.



And check out the other interviews in the series:


Jim Thalman http://ow.ly/JQ8YT

David Au http://ow.ly/JwM0A

Dwayne Alexander Smith http://ow.ly/J8GJI

Haifaa Al-Mansour http://ow.ly/ITabq

Chad Crawford Kinkle http://ow.ly/HXLq0

Mikey Levy http://ow.ly/HA9Xm

Hilliard Guess http://ow.ly/HcOmr

Amir Ohebsion http://ow.ly/H8aPq

Donald McKinney http://ow.ly/GvPfn

Michelle Ehlen http://ow.ly/GvPr1

So tell me what you think.

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