The York University Magazine

Fall 2015

The alumni magazine of York University

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noise and stand out a bit," says Shin, who is attracting attention in his own right, recently winning the Scotia- bank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist at the 2014 Toronto Film Critics Associ- ation Awards. A longtime movie buff with big-screen aspirations, Shin began honing his craft in his teens, bringing Ball-Harding on board whenever he needed a hand. She dabbled in commercial acting as a child, and getting a glimpse into Shin's behind-the-scenes world sparked her interest in the other side of the business. To avoid Ontario's double cohort year, Shin fast-tracked through high school and went straight on to university. This allowed Ball-Harding to get a taste of York's film program through Shin's eyes before deciding to join him two years later. And it was a decision she doesn't regret for a second. As for Shin, many of his former York classmates have become his real-world collaborators. "We forged amazing bonds, both personally and profes- sionally, so we were able to take what we learned in school and continue to evolve and grow together." Being a second-generation Korean Canadian, Shin had his heart set on making a movie in his homeland someday. And he had just the place – his aunt and uncle's abandoned dairy farm in the Korean countryside, about 150 kilometres from Seoul. All he needed was the right story. He found it while on a brainstorming trip to Korea after graduation. Shin overheard a heated family debate at a "microcosm of the bigger picture." He felt Ball-Harding could bring a creative element to the project that he was lacking, as well as a female perspective. "It was basically tailor-made to my sensibili- ties," she says. "Culturally it speaks to him, but it speaks to me as a woman." The pair spent a month in Korea together – drawing inspiration from the evoca- tive landscape, figuring out the skeleton of the film and walking through scenes. With Ball-Harding back in Canada, they continued fleshing out the storyline, sending notes back and forth until the screenplay was finally com- pleted three years later. The prep work, which included trans- lating the English script into Korean, took about a year. Then Shin spent 24 days shooting with his all-Korean cast and crew, and post-production was handled in Toronto. "I look back now at the original screenplay we wrote on yellow legal pad and it makes me smile, the dif- ferences," says Ball-Harding. "But for the most part, the bones are there, the idea is there, the thrills are there. So that's exciting for me." Though they're both exploring differ- ent projects at the moment, this power- house film duo is confident they'll be working together in an "official capacity" again soon. "In some ways, Pearl is always involved," says Shin. "We have a collaborative friendship," adds Ball-Harding with a laugh. l In Her Place is available to rent or buy on iTunes and Google Play. a restaurant about whether a family member was actually pregnant or faking it, planning to illegally adopt and claim the baby as her biological child. Surprisingly, this wasn't a new concept to Shin. Suspicions of hush- hush adoptions are not uncommon in the Korean community. "There's one in every family, or at least rumours of one," he says. The secrecy stems from the stigma attached to adoption, teen pregnancy and abortion in Korea. There are a lot of unwanted babies and people not able to have babies, but still needing to maintain their family lineage, says Shin. "All of these things create this kind of messy perfect storm." Or, as he realized that day, the stuff of movie magic. Shin knew this topic needed to be explored through film, but decided to scale it down to one story – three women brought together through a secret adoption scheme – to serve as REEL DEAL: Indie filmmakers Pearl Ball-Harding and Albert Shin 24 The York University Magazine Fall 2015

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