People often reflect on life and the world as they watch a drama unfold. From love to conflict, even the dark side of life, all of reality is portrayed in a drama. Dramas allow people to live a romance through the show’s characters and help the TV viewer take a serious and critical look at the world. Have you ever thought about the producers of dramas? SMT met An Inyong, a producer trying to develop better and more interesting storylines for his TV audiences. Let’s learn more about his passion and success story.
Would you please introduce yourself as a producer to SMT readers?
Most people, when they think of producer, think of the director. However, directors are responsible for casting and filming the actual product while a producer manages the production itself to ensure a show operates smoothly and ends successfully. As a producer, I supervise scriptwriters, the filming director, and the art director. I am also responsible for ensuring the production process does not encounter any difficulties from the beginning to the end of production. To be honest, I wanted to become a director, but after working in the field, I realized I was not sensitive, meticulous, or even keen enough to excel at that job. I liked the media environment and after considering my talents, I felt it would be more appropriate for me to work as a producer and work on projects that I want others to watch. I’ve worked as a producer for some time now and have been involved with projects such as Who Are You (2015), The Queen of Reasoning Season 1 (2017) and Season 2 (2018), and My First First Love (2019).
What goes into a drama production process?
As a producer, I’m involved in the process right from the start to the end. I need to recruit the best available director and actors for the project. Actually, dramas are similar to movies. The main difference is that for a drama, the directing, producing, and script writing are done separately, not a whole. The production process for a drama needs approximately 400 people and various managerial departments to supervise those people. A producer then supervises the heads of the separate managerial departments and acts as an intermediary between them. When it is time to air the drama, a producer is also responsible for keeping deadlines and doing follow-up work such as the settlement of accounts, such as performance fees or production fees. In other words, a producer is there from the start to the end of a drama and is in charge of budgeting, personnel, broadcasting, and settlement of accounts.
What are the main differences between producing a drama production and producing other programs?
They are quite similar, but for a drama, script work is more complicated. The script should be written aggressively about five times a week. They need to complete about 20 pages of script each writing session. Within 5 days, they should create 100 pages of script for the drama. Unlike a report, script writing involves a lot of imagination, so the process is difficult. The hardest job for anyone involved in a drama production is a scriptwriter. For example, for entertainment shows that have regular televised times, the filming and editing schedule for the show takes place over about a three day period. However, a drama requires that people get involved in the production at least three months, sometimes 4 or 5 months, before filming starts. Planning for drama is much more intensive than an entertainment show or a movie. Entertainment shows also tend to become routine and people get accustomed to a set routine. In the film industry, the work is all done pre-filming, so movies are easier in terms of time and scheduling than dramas. Whenever I reflect on my experiences, I realize how hard a drama production process is and how much work I need to put into creating one.
What is the most rewarding moment for you during program production?
I feel most proud of viewing the drama once it is televised. When TV viewers watch the show and write positive reviews, I feel a great sense of pride and happiness. Unfortunately, none of my produced dramas have become super smash hits in Korea, but I’m still satisfied. Shooting on location is fun and exciting, but I'm much happier when I heard positive remarks after someone seeing my drama. To be honest, it’s not a lucrative job, but money is not everything. I feel my work is rewarding, and I gain a sense of empowerment from my accomplishment. I’m pleased with small happy moments and feelings.
What direction will you as a producer need to take in order to continue the successful export of Korean programs that provide high-quality content?
The most important thing is to create work that incorporates Korean characteristics. Producers need to consider the unique emotions that exist among modern society Koreans as well as past day Korean society. I have noticed that some drama content today follows foreign TV show content such content on US dramas, but I don’t think it’s a good approach. Korean domestic dramas shouldn’t lose personality traits unique to Koreans nor simply imitate foreign trends.
What special expertise or knowledge did you need to perfect in order to become a drama producer?
My undergraduate degree was in politics and diplomacy, so I don’t think my major greatly affected my work. Each major will be something to the job. Looking at others in this field, I see they also come from very diverse academic backgrounds. In my case, my job isn’t related to my major. I did not enter the entertainment industry because of my major. I am working in this field because I like my job. People need to find something they like and stick to it. Likewise, persistence is more important than knowledge for success. It's not what you know, but how long you can persevere and endure. In addition, producers convey messages to the public through interesting TV programs. In order to spread a message, it is important to attract the attention of a vast audience from the TV show. To create a show that attracts such a wide audience, the show needs to have an original idea, creative and clever ideas. I get fresh ideas from seeing, hearing, and feeling things around me. The more you experience, the more deeply you can ponder something.
Working as a producer, what values do you keep in mind?
As a producer, I try to keep the idea of thrifty. I control budgeting so that spending doesn’t get out-of-hand. I always try hard to be transparent with money. I guess this comes from my principle of action, without any regret on my conscience. I also remember to speak and act honestly, for cheating others can bring disgrace to my programs. Moreover, I try to remember to keep in mind that the job of a producer involves being able to multitask throughout the production process. People admire producers because they are considered the head of a program. However, a producer is much more than acting head. The producer must support and manage all staff of a production. Producers need to make contracts and manage to budget. Anyone considering being a producer should really consider their interest in the reality of a producer and be willing to take full responsibility for the work they create.
Last, would you like to leave a final message for our Sookmyungians?
I recommend Sookmyungians experience as many things as possible and meet as many people as possible in their lives. For example, a trip somewhere far from home for about a month or so can be invaluable later in life. When I was a university student, I traveled to Africa and experienced new cultures, which helped me learn what I like and what I want to do with my life. I hope each of you learns what you really want to be and move toward your “real” dream. Again, variety from experiences like traveling can help you easily achieve your true wish in life.
- Chief Producer of Drama Industry Headquarters Team 1
- You Are So Lovely to Me (2014, SBS)
- Who Are You (2015, KBS2)
- The Queen of Reasoning Season 1 (2017) and Season 2 (2018, KBS2)
- My First First Love (2019, NETFLIX)
Kim Shin Hyerin / Society Section Editor
Kim Han Yujin / Cub Reporter
Choi Cho Huiryung / Cub Reporter