Past Lives director shares scene that left her ‘crying in frustration’

Past Lives: Greta Lee and John Magaro star in trailer

Past Lives director Celine Song revealed she took a break to let out her frustrations after a challenging day’s shooting.

Her acclaimed drama film follows Korean-American woman Nora (played by Greta Lee), who reconnects with her childhood sweetheart Hae Sung (Teo Yoo).

Song was crowned the winner of this year’s London Sundance Audience Award after the Express sat down with the filmmaker to discuss her stellar debut.

“There was a moment on set after we shot the scene where the children say goodbye to each other,” she recalled.

“And that moment was so funny… We were just getting used to the way the sun sets in Korea.”

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While most of the drama takes place in present-day New York City, Past Lives flashes back to Nora and Hae Sung’s childhood, portrayed by young actors Seung Ah Moon and Seung Min Yim.

Although these key scenes laid the groundwork for the central characters’ devastating friendship, Song struggled to get to grips with the new location.

“My department heads, my [director of photography] – we had developed how to shoot this movie in New York,” she said.

“And then, of course, we came to Korea and the lighting was different, the sun was different, everything about it was different. So we were all adjusting.”

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At one point, the sun completely threw the cast and crew off their game.

“We had a kind of a frustrating day,” Song admitted. “We couldn’t get the sun to move in the way we expected.

“So, me and my DP, we had a heart-to-heart moment about, ‘this is a really difficult day, we didn’t get what we wanted’.

“I was so overwhelmed with everything that once my DP left I was just sitting there crying.

“I was so upset about the shot I didn’t get. It didn’t look the way we wanted.

“And I could hear crew walking by, saying like, ‘Oh, Celine must be crying because she’s so moved!’

“And I was like, ‘No! It’s because of the sun!’”

Despite its tricky shooting conditions, South Korea still provides a beautiful backdrop for Past Lives’ heartwrenching early scenes.

The drama has also cemented Lee and Yoo as talents to look out for, while Song is already working on her next project, Materialists, after her extraordinary debut.

Past Lives is showing at Picturehouse Central in London on Sunday, July 16 and will be released in cinemas on September 8.

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