When you witness a unique BL series that is both luminous and raw, strange and familiar, with an indie feel to it, you become curious as to what sort of mindset the filmmakers have, and how such an idea for a BL series was conceptualized. Tackling mental health, bullying, peer pressure, betrayal, and romance, The Eight Sense is a shining example of how a BL is supposed to be made. In this exclusive interview, the series’ directors and writers opened up to PsychoWeird and we witnessed a glimpse of their cinematic visions.
For many viewers (including me), there is a perception that The Eight Sense differs from most BL series (Korean and otherwise). We felt the “indie’ vibes of the production. The cinematography, the OST, and the sound are unique and leave such lasting impressions, and the acting is so spontaneous and natural. How did you first arrive at the idea for making this BL series?
In the realm of entertainment, the demand for diverse and inclusive content has been steadily growing. It is within this context that we embarked on a creative journey, inspired by the desire to explore new horizons and deviate from the traditional formula often associated with BL series. Our aim was to offer viewers a unique and refreshing experience.
To achieve this, we understood the significance of various artistic elements in crafting an immersive and captivating viewing adventure. From meticulously designed cinematography to the carefully selected soundtrack, every detail was meant to contribute to the creation of a distinct atmosphere, capable of evoking deep emotions within the audience.
Recognizing the profound impact of natural and spontaneous performances, in works from Larry Clark and Lars von Trier’s Dogma ’95 style, we endeavored to ensure that the characters and their relationships felt authentic and relatable. By employing this approach, we aimed to forge a powerful emotional connection between the viewers and the unfolding story.
By focusing on unique and untouched themes, our intent was to leave an indelible impression on the audience, setting our creation visually and narratively apart from others.
In a world hungry for new narratives and experiences, The Eight Sense aimed to be an artistic exploration. It serves as a reminder that by challenging conventions and venturing beyond familiar territory, storytellers can create works that resonate deeply with audiences and redefine the boundaries of the respective genres.
Tell us how it was to be collaborators in writing and directing The Eight Sense. Can you tell us your personal directing style and how you collaborated on the writing? How did you divide the work?
Our distinct approaches complement each other effectively, yielding several advantages as we bring diverse perspectives to the creative process. On one hand, we adopt a meticulous and well-defined approach with clear goals and a precise vision, encompassing various elements such as style, design, music, and grading. This method ensures that we have a solid foundation and direction for our project.
On the other hand, we also embrace spontaneity, allowing room for in-the-moment exploration. This element of improvisation enables us to discover new ideas and possibilities as we work, adding freshness and authenticity to our expressions. By combining these two approaches, we strike a balance between being planned and structured, while also giving ourselves the freedom to experiment and take creative risks.
When it comes to writing, our collaborative process involves an iterative back-and-forth exchange during each draft. In the conceptual phase, we engage in joint brainstorming sessions and writing sessions, pooling our ideas and insights. This collaborative approach allows us to leverage each other’s strengths and perspectives, resulting in a more well-rounded and comprehensive foundation for the story.
As we progress to the stage of laying out the complete script, we transition into a collaborative editing process. We pass drafts back and forth, carefully reviewing and adjusting each other’s work. This iterative feedback loop allows us to refine the script, enhancing its coherence, depth, and emotional resonance. Through this collaborative editing process, we find the optimal balance for the story, ensuring that it aligns with our collective vision and effectively communicates our intended message.
Overall, our combination of planned, structured approaches and spontaneous, exploratory methods offers us a dynamic and versatile approach to creative expression. It allows us to bring the best of both worlds together, resulting in a well-crafted and emotionally engaging final product.
Let us know why it is called ‘The Eight Sense’. According to an existing definition, “Interoception is (the 8th sense) a sensory system that lets us assess internal feelings.” Can you please elaborate?
Turning an 8 on its side results in the infinity symbol. This represents what I like to call The Infinite Sense, which is the true nature of all relationships. No relationship stays static; instead, it’s constantly evolving into something else. This applies to all types of relationships, including those between lovers, friends, and family.
The beauty of The Infinite Sense is that it acknowledges the inherent fluidity and changeability of our connections with others. We should embrace this evolution, rather than trying to force our relationships into rigid, unchanging forms. By recognizing the infinite potential within all relationships, we can create deeper, more meaningful connections with the people in our lives.
We learned that there was an audition for the actors to play parts in The Eight Sense. How did you choose Lim JiSub and Oh JunTaek? Let us know how the audition went, and give us some ideas about the process and your criteria for choosing the actors.
From the very beginning of our casting process, we knew that finding the perfect actors to portray the characters of Jihyun and Jaewon was crucial for our project’s success. With this in mind, we embarked on an extensive search to discover the ideal performers who could bring these roles to life in the most compelling way possible.
After careful consideration, we initially cast JunTaek, who possessed a unique understanding of the character. However, we believed that finding the right actor to portray Jaewon, someone who could complement JunTaek’s character and create a captivating on-screen dynamic was equally essential.
With auditions underway, we were thrilled to witness a remarkable influx of talented actors who were eager to showcase their skills and chemistry alongside JunTaek. As they stepped into the audition room one by one, we were genuinely captivated by the immense talent and diversity displayed before us.
The auditions were filled with intense emotional performances, nuanced portrayals, and an undeniable chemistry that kept us on the edge of our seats. We were astounded by the sheer range and depth of talent that graced our casting sessions, making the decision-making process all the more challenging.
However, JiSub demonstrated an incredible understanding of Jaewon’s character and seamlessly intertwined with JunTaek’s portrayal.
JiSub’s interpretation of Jaewon showcased a magnetic charisma, a perfect counterbalance to JunTaek’s character. Their interactions on and off-screen exhibited a compelling dynamic that we knew would elevate the storytelling to new heights. The contrast in their personalities, one bringing intensity and passion while the other exuding a quiet strength formed the foundation of the captivating relationship we envisioned for these characters.
As production moves forward, we remain immensely grateful for the multitude of talented actors who graced our auditions. Their contributions, passion, and dedication reaffirmed our belief in the power of storytelling and the magic that can be created when talented individuals come together in pursuit of a shared vision.
What’s the most challenging part of making the series? What are the most fulfilling and enjoyable (or fun) parts?
One of the most formidable challenges we encountered throughout the production was the perpetual struggle with limited resources, both in terms of money and time. It seemed that no matter how meticulously we planned and budgeted, we never had an abundance of either. However, this limitation forced us to think outside the box and employ creative strategies to ensure our complete vision was realized.
Balancing the budget and schedule was a constant juggling act. We had to make difficult decisions, occasionally sacrificing one element in favor of another, in order to maintain the integrity of our project. It required careful prioritization and resource allocation to make the most of what we had.
Amidst the challenges, there were moments of sheer delight and fulfillment. Witnessing the scenes we had imagined vividly in our minds’ eye come to life was an indescribable joy. The tangible realization of our creative vision was a testament to the hard work and dedication poured into every aspect of the production. It was during these moments that we truly understood the magic of storytelling.
Moreover, the process of bringing our vision to life often yielded unexpected surprises and discoveries. As the cameras rolled and the actors breathed life into their characters, there were instances when something unforeseen and extraordinary happened on set. These serendipitous moments became gifts that enriched the story and added layers of authenticity. It was a testament to the collaborative nature of filmmaking, where every individual’s contribution can spark unforeseen brilliance.
Undoubtedly, the creative journey was not without its share of stress and pressure. The weight of responsibility, coupled with the demanding nature of the industry, could take its toll. Yet, in those moments, it became imperative to take a step back and gain perspective. Stepping away from the minutiae and viewing the creation as a whole helped us rediscover our passion and purpose. It reminded us of the greater significance of our work and rekindled the joy and excitement that fueled our initial vision.
In the end, the challenges we faced and the sacrifices we made were all worth it. The culmination of our efforts resulted in a project that surpassed our expectations, thanks to the ingenuity and resilience displayed by the entire team. The creative process, with all its intricacies and obstacles, served as a profound learning experience, reinforcing the notion that the pursuit of art is not always smooth sailing but is rife with valuable lessons and rewards.
To Director Inu Baek – How was it working with a director like Werner du Plessis . How did you meet, and were you already friends before the filming? Who is your inspiration for making films, in particular The Eight Sense?
We’ve known each other for almost a decade now, so we’re practically like family. It’s a wonderful thing, but it can also be quite challenging on set. You see, because we know each other so well, our communication tends to be very direct. It can be a bit confusing for new crew members who aren’t used to our shorthand, but they catch on after a while.
Werner is a stickler for detail and has a clear vision in mind. He never wants to compromise that vision, which can sometimes pose difficulties when it comes to the realities of production. That’s where I often step in to facilitate and find a balance between his artistic vision and the practicalities of making a film. It can be a delicate dance, but it’s all part of the creative process.
His stubbornness when it comes to his vision is also what makes him so dedicated and passionate. He truly believes in the power of filmmaking and pours his heart and soul into every project. It’s inspiring to witness his unwavering commitment to bringing his ideas to life on the screen.
The films, ”I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” are prime examples of films that touch people’s hearts and leave a lasting impact, and that’s what we wanted to achieve with The Eighth Sense.
All in all, despite the challenges that come with working closely with someone you consider family, our shared history and deep understanding of each other’s artistic sensibilities make for a unique and fulfilling collaboration. It’s a journey filled with passion, dedication, and the constant pursuit of creating something truly remarkable.
To Director Werner du Plessis How was your experience in Korea? How different or similar is it when it comes to your personal creative process as a filmmaker? Can you give us more background on your filmmaking experience?
In many Asian cultures, including Korea, hierarchical structures and systems of power carry significant influence. However, I have always strived for a different kind of culture, one based on meritocracy and respect for work ethic. This perspective has influenced the way I approach set dynamics and the overall production process.
On our set, I aimed to foster freer communication and open dialogues among everyone involved, regardless of their title or position. I wanted to create an environment where individuals felt comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions. This approach challenged the traditional notions of hierarchy and encouraged collaboration and creativity from all team members, whether they were seasoned professionals or just starting out as production assistants.
As a filmmaker and director, my personal process diverges from my role as a writer. It often begins with a single captivating image, a specific color palette, a unique prop, or even a piece of art. From there, I delve into developing and expanding that initial inspiration, shaping it into a cohesive vision for the project. While my previous experience in the industry primarily revolved around writing and script editing for feature film productions, my educational background has been quite diverse.
I embarked on my film journey by pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in writing and directing in South Africa, which laid the foundation for my creative exploration. I then further honed my skills by completing a Master’s program in Digital Media Contents in Korea, which provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the technical and artistic aspects of filmmaking. Seeking to broaden my horizons, I pursued a Documentary Film Program at Harvard and later delved into a Screenwriting Program at UCLA.
Some might say I’ve spent a considerable amount of time immersed in education, but for me, it has been a rewarding process of constant learning and embracing new challenges. Each step of my academic journey has equipped me with valuable insights and a diverse skill set that I bring to my filmmaking endeavors.
What about the audience’s reaction to The Eight Sense? People are raving and expressing their feelings about the show. Did you expect this kind of success and adulation?
When you’re fully immersed in the creative process and engrossed in making a show or working on a project, it’s natural to think much the audience’s overall response. The thought of putting your work out there to be judged can be quite intimidating and might even hinder the creative flow, so you don’t want it to be too consuming.
We have been fortunate enough to receive truly remarkable messages from fans who have shared their personal stories of struggle with mental health or residing in countries with limited LGBTQIA+ rights and representation. They have expressed how the show has given them strength, joy, and a sense of escape from the challenging realities they face. It is these powerful messages and countless other moments that we, as storytellers, often remain unaware of, which make the entire journey incredibly rewarding.
The impact our show has had on individuals’ lives goes far beyond what we could have ever anticipated. It is a humbling experience to realize that our work has become a source of inspiration and solace for those who need it most. We are deeply moved by the stories of people finding strength, hope, and a temporary respite from their daily struggles through our storytelling.
It is important to acknowledge that without the passion and support of our audience, our show would never have been able to make such a profound impact. Their enthusiasm, engagement, and unwavering dedication have been instrumental in giving our show a platform and spreading its influence. We consider this process of sharing our creation with the audience as an ongoing collaboration—a symbiotic relationship between us as creators and the fans who embrace and amplify our work.
In the end, it is the connection we forge with the audience and the positive impact we have on their lives that truly matters. These experiences continue to fuel our passion as storytellers and remind us of the immense power of storytelling to inspire, empower, and create meaningful change. The bond between us, and our audience is a remarkable and reciprocal journey—one that we are deeply grateful for and committed to nurturing.
What is the future for The Eight Sense and your other collaborations? Are there future BL series, or do you have other kinds of projects cooking?
While I can’t give you all the specific details just yet, I want you to know that we have already finished writing two series and two feature films even before The Eighth Sense. It’s an exciting time for us, and there are definitely more collaborations on the horizon.
We might need to count on the incredible support of The Eighth Sense fanbase to make some noise and show their love for our projects. Give some extra motivation to all the content gatekeepers out there. Imagine a FreeBird army fighting together for the content they’re passionate about! It’s an amazing idea, right?
What is your message to the fans and viewers of The Eight Sense?
To all the amazing fans of The Eighth Sense, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering support. Whether you’ve been watching the show, leaving comments, or spreading the word about it, we see and appreciate every single one of you. Your enthusiasm and engagement mean the world to us.
What’s truly remarkable is the way our fans have been interacting online. The positivity and uplifting atmosphere you’ve created are truly heartwarming. In a world where online spaces can often be filled with hate and negativity, it’s a breath of fresh air to witness the kindness and support you all show to one another. It fills us with joy to see how The Eighth Sense has brought people together in such a positive and inclusive way.
As the show’s message resonates with so many, I want to remind all of our fans to prioritize self-care. You are valued and deserving of love and acceptance, regardless of the labels society may try to place upon you. Embrace who you are, live out loud and proud in your own unique way, and always remember that within the vast world of pop culture, there exists a show, its creators, and its actors who will stand up for your voice.
Once again, thank you for being incredible fans and for being a part of The Eighth Sense community. Your support and passion have made a profound impact, and we can’t wait to continue this journey together. Stay true to yourselves, keep spreading love, and let’s create a world where everyone feels seen and heard.
PsychoWeird acknowledges and appreciates the time, effort, and energy of Director Werner du Plessis for this interview opportunity.
An old-timer BL fan way back in 2007. I started out loving BL after watching the Takumi-kun series from Japan, went on collecting BL manga, and watched old BL anime such as Junjou Romantica and the likes. Love of Siam allow me to transition into Thai, while Amphetamine gave me glimpses of Taiwanese BL magic. I love to write reviews and I’m one of the administrators of Psycho Weird.