Mutant Boar Terrorizes South Korea in CHAW
Korean and American Filmmakers Partner for New Monster Movie
Author: Kim Song-ho (Loomis)
Source: Polygon Entertainment official press release, Cine 21, official Korean press releases, Donga Ilbo, imdb
Polygon Entertainment and Soo Jack Films have wrapped up principal photography for Shin Jeong-won’s forthcoming action adventure/thriller CHAW. Polygon Entertainment is providing production, post-production, and visual effects services for CHAW, which is produced by Soo Jack Films and stars Eom Tae-woong and Jeong Yu-mi. It is the story of a small village in South Korea being terrorized by Chaw, a massive, man-eating, mutant wild boar.
Mysterious, gruesome deaths plague Sammae-ri, a peaceful little village in the Jirisan National Park of South Korea. Among the victims is the granddaughter of Cheon Il-man (Jang Hang-seon), a native of Sammae-ri and a professional hunter. Police cannot find any clues and there is no progress in the investigation.
Then Kim (Eom Tae-woong), a recently relegated police officer from Seoul who is now partnered with lead detective Shin (Pak Hyeok-kwon), finds out that the killer is none other than a wild boar. The news attracts many hunters from all over the Korean peninsula, but the situation quickly goes from bad to worse, causing counterattacks from the wild boar.
In this chaos, Kim’s mother (who suffers from dementia) goes missing. Kim forms a team with Shin, Cheon, a hunter named Baek (Yoon Je-moon) and zoo-ecology researcher Soo-ryeon (Jeong Yu-mi) to track the wild boar’s hoofmarks and face the deadly beast on it’s home turf.
CHAW is the second feature film by director Shin Jeong-won, who debuted with the gangsters and ghosts story SISILY 2km (a.k.a. TO CATCH A VIRGIN GHOST) in 2004. SISILY was a horror-comedy hybrid that was moderately successful at the Korean box office. At first glance, CHAW seems to be a straightforward action-thriller. However, though it is a bit early to conclude, it might be more than that.
According to an interview with a Korean weekly movie magazine Cine 21, Shin said that after his first feature he received many comedy scripts, none of which were funny to him. So he began writing CHAW to make ‘a funny movie’ by himself. The interview indicates that Shin’s definition of the word ‘funny’ is not what it traditionally means, and claims that his imagination is very twisted. He said in the interview that he began making films after admitting that he enjoyed crashing cliches.
Then why a killer boar? “If you see some documentaries, you will know that in the ecosystem of Korea, the most powerful predator on land is a wild boar,” he said. His statement is quite well-founded. There have been several wild boar attacks reported in the past few years in Korea, some of which caused human casualties. Experts analyzed that changes in the ecosystem and destruction of their natural habitat caused wild boars to appear near human dwelling sites, looking for food.
Shin completed writing the script in 2007, but could not find a way to bring his vision to the screen using the domestic film industry. Then came Kim Doo-jin, co-founder of the visual effects company Polygon Entertainment and also a former collaborator from when Shin directed music videos. Kim introduced Shin to Stefen Fangmeier, a renowned visual effects artist and the director of the fantasy film ERAGON (2006), and that lead to involving Polygon co-founder and CEO Hans Uhlig (a digital artist and supervisor on such films as STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE, SIGNS, and SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW).
For CHAW, the special effects crew created both a computer generated giant wild boar and an animatronic version which stands 2 meters tall and 4 meters long (approximately 6 and a half feet tall and 13 feet long). In a recent Polygon Entertainment press release, Hans Uhlig stated, “Although we were able to use a practical, full-scale model of the creature for some of the effects shots, the majority of these shots required computer-generated imagery. We assembled our own team of highly skilled and experienced artists who created a fully CG creature, and their work is truly amazing. Be prepared to see some really incredible and frightening visual effects!”
Also, Shin and the producers decided that they would shoot about 70% of the film in the United States, particulary in the San Francisco area. Uhlig, who also served as 2nd Unit Director, explained, “As the majority of the film takes place in a rural setting, we were able to shoot most of the principal photography right here in northern California.” One of the many reasons for filming in the U.S. is that it was much more easy to get permission for shooting in the woods than would be the case in South Korea. And the San Fransisco area commands a striking view and looks similar to many counterpart locations in Korea.
In an April 18th article for the Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo (East Asia Daily), a member of the CHAW production company further elaborated on why they chose San Francisco as a stand-in for Jirisan: “In San Francisco, there is a dense forest right off of a wide road. Every condition, including the transportaion of filming equipment, is better than in Korea. In the dense forest, there are several spots that each have a distinct look. Also, there are almost no rainfall at this time of the year so there is no influence from the weather and we can work very easily with the American company in charge of the killer boar special effects, which helps us keep down the budget.”
Acting auditions for CHAW were held in early February, 2008. Filming began on March 17 on privately-owned woods near San Francisco and wrapped on July 5 in Sokcho, Korea. Director Shin will soon be returning to California to edit the film at Polygon’s facility in San Rafael. “We have brand new, state-of-the-art high definition editing system,” said Uhlig, “where we will be ingesting, editing, color-correcting, and outputting the digital intermediate of the entire film. The system also allows us to export (and import) our effects shots requiring the CG elements.”
The production budget for CHAW is reported to be 5 billion Korean won; about $5 million US. The film will open in Korea in December, 2008. The exact release date (as well as distribution plans for the United States and other countries) has not yet been revealed.
NOTE: The movie’s title CHAW apparently has multiple meanings. It is a variant of the English word ‘chew’ and is defined as ‘to bite and grind with the teeth; to masticate’ while in the Korean dialect of Gyeonggi and Chungcheong provinces it also refers to ‘a trap’.
CHAW (2008) Credits
Director: Shin Jeong-won
Producer: Chin Won-suk, Yom Dong-bok
Executive Producer: Kim Doo-jin, Hans Uhlig
Director of Photography: Barry Stone
Production Design: Jung Sung-gun
Art Director: Kong Yun-teak
Set Decoration: Dean Backer
Costume Design: Kwak Jung-ae
Makeup: Lisa Zomer
Visual Effects Supervisor: Erik Jensen
Creature Designer: Danny Wagner
Creature Fabricator: Carol Bauman
Animation Supervisor: Miguel Angel Fuertes
Eom Tae-woong as Police Officer Kim
Jang Hang-seon as Cheon Il-man
Yoon Je-moon as Baek the Hunter
Jeong Yu-mi as Soo-ryeon
Park Hyeok-kwon as Detective Shin
Release Date: December 2008
About Polygon Entertainment LLC
Polygon Entertainment is a feature film production company, based in Marin County, California. Polygon’s founders, Hans H. Uhlig and Kim Doo-jin, bring entrepreneurial experience combined with in-depth expertise in motion picture production to the company.
In addition to producing original motion pictures, Polygon Entertainment provides a full suite of digital production services from live action, 3D animation, and visual effects for a wide variety of clients and projects.
Polygon Entertainment’s production team has many years of experience in both independent and blockbuster feature films, and has established relationships with major talent agencies and distribution companies.