A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a new series I’d recently found on New Form’s YouTube channel. The series, entitled Good Face, had a very definite K-drama vibe to it, which hooked me right away, and then Sean Dulake showed up and well… That was it. My fate was sealed. Funny thing is, not long after the pilot episode of Good Face aired, I had a chance to chat with the incredible ladies behind this rather addictive new series, Lina Suh (co-writer, director) and Helen Krieger (co-writer). Together we talked about inspiration, motivation and what it takes to make dreams come true.
I watched the pilot of your new series, Good Face, and I have to say, I’m officially hooked. This story feels very relatable, both in terms of characters and storyline, on several different levels. Everything feels very real and since there’s that old adage that says, “write what you know,” I was just wondering, how much of yourselves did you put into this series?
Lina: That’s so great to hear you find it relatable. I worked for a Korean doctor right after undergrad and found out it was a plastic surgeon on my first day of work. The majority of patients were Korean and so in some ways, the office was a microcosm of Korea, and I was suddenly thrust back into a certain manner of behavior, on instinct… The way I would often act when I was growing up in Korea. Meanwhile I had a non Korean boyfriend that I wasn’t being totally honest with my family about but he was also my emotional support system as I struggled to figure out who I was as an artist and also figuring out how to pay my bills. “Good Face” makes a lot of departures too but a lot stems from real occurrences. Micro and macro.
Helen: I’m so glad you’re hooked! The story is based on some very specific experiences that Lina had, but I always find that the more specific a story is, the more universal it is. I don’t have an experience being Asian and dating a white guy that my parents didn’t approve of, but I do also have very conservative parents. So when I started living with my boyfriend, it took me a long time to break the news to them.
I know that, as women, in the entertainment industry, things aren’t always easy. There are a lot of obstacles you have to overcome, and sometimes it can be pretty rough. What motivated you to keep going when things got tough?
Lina: We love telling stories. To do anything well will take a lot of work but as long as you are connected to the story and have a good team also putting so much energy and passion into the story, I feel that we owe it to the team and to the audience to deliver something good.
Helen: I love writing and producing and that whole process of making something from your imagination come alive. No matter how much bullshit there is, it’s always worth it to make something.
Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share with other women who might be struggling to make their own dreams come true?
Lina: Be persistent, keep practicing and pushing your craft, so that you know your ability will become unquestionably competitive at the level you want to work. Don’t wait for opportunities but keep making opportunities because I learn something with every project, no matter how big or small.
Helen: Don’t ask for permission. Just start working toward what you want to do. And make sure whatever it is you really want to do, that you fall in love with the work, with the process and not the outcomes.
Through all the ups and downs that come with producing a pilot, there have to have been some pretty memorable moments along the way. What’s the one that stands out the most in your mind, as the best?
Lina: There were a lot of sleepless nights leading up to production, and my voice was almost shaky, because of nerves and tiredness – I hope no one noticed! Actually one actor told me when we met to rehearse, that I should try to get some sleep. Then we finally got on set and I was suddenly not tired at all. Looking into the video monitor, seeing everyone’s great work, I was calm and energized at the same time. That’s the best feeling.
Helen: On the first day we had a lot to shoot, and we weren’t sure we could get it all, so we came up with a nuclear option. We added a line onto one of the scenes so if we ran out of time we could cut the scene where Clara tells Mrs. Park she already has plans for the night. The story would work, but we really liked that scene in Mrs. Park’s office, so as we got closer to the end of the day, we started moving faster and faster so we could have enough time to shoot that scene. By the end we were running from set up to set up, and we just barely had enough time to shoot it!
What is it, ultimately, that you want people to take away from this series?
Lina: For the viewers to relate to the idea that anyone becomes a different version of oneself or discover new truths in different areas of our lives, and that’s not a bad thing. We are all trying to figure ourselves out as a full human being and there’s confusion along the way but hopefully we can become more accepting of ourselves and of others.
Of course I can’t wrap this up without thanking both Lina and Helen for taking the time out of their busy schedules to chat with me. If you haven’t already added Good Face to your drama watching schedule you can check out the pilot episode here: