CONTENTED proudly presents their promo film for Geumcheon-gu Office. “Bikini Words” is a cinematic journey into the linguistic developments of Korea’s industrial expansion in the 1970s and 80s. Join me, Nils Clauss, a cinematographer, director of photography, and filmmaker based in Seoul, as I delve into the creation of Bikini Words. The film is an immersive exploration commissioned by Geumcheon District Office.
The Project’s Genesis
My journey with Geumcheon District Office began when approached by Hongsung Kim and Jinbok Wee. Both of them are the founders of Design Studio Kerb and head of Urban Intensity Architects, respectively. The project, part of a 5-year exhibition at Gasan Digital Complex Subway station, aimed to encapsulate South Korea’s economic growth from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. The challenge was to narrate the harsh realities faced by factory workers during this period.
Inspiration struck when I discovered the G-index. Factory workers in G-Valley coined an index of 99 words during the 1970s and 80s. Collaborating with my producer Kuiock Park, we selected eight words, forming the basis for Bikini Words and offering a unique insight into the lives of factory workers.
Scouting Geumcheon, we encountered challenges in finding former workers willing to participate. We had to build trust, and with the assistance of a strong workers’ activist, we successfully gathered authentic voices to narrate their experiences.
Balancing Reality and Fantasy
To maintain authenticity, we chose real factory workers of that time to act out the words in the exhibition space. Stylistically, a contrast was created between the exhibition space and real locations, showcasing the changing landscape of G-Valley.
Filmed with a Sony FS7 on a Ronin gimbal device, the project aimed for the best possible visual quality. The use of a 24mm lens and a Smoque 1 Filter by Tiffen added a dreamy texture to the images, capturing the essence of the bygone era.
Bikini Words has been a labor of love, offering a unique perspective on Korea’s industrial past. I extend my gratitude to everyone involved, emphasizing the importance of creative freedom in projects aligned with personal interests.