A Milestone for Diversity
: The Web Drama Everywhere and Nowhere, There We Are
Regardless of masks, every participant of the interview was full of passion to discuss the beloved web drama made by the 33rd General Student Council, Daone. Earning more than 4.5 million views on YouTube, a number far surpassing that of other web dramas, it is recognized as the climax of this year’s online Sungshin Festival.
In a humble voice, Jeon Dahyeon and Choi Jiwon, the two chief producers of this three-episode drama, said they did not expect the reactions to be this positive. Being the leaderships of Daone, also demonstrating the qualities of entrepreneurs, they explained the decision to produce this drama was mainly due to COVID-19. Regretful of the numerous events that were canceled from the beginning of 2020, they brought up a cherished idea that was planned from before the term of the 33rd General Student Council even started. By portraying a world without discrimination in order to express the direct opposite reality, the drama deals with college couples in women’s universities in the most delicate and warm mode of e-x-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-n.
Three main characters acted by professional actors appear in the web drama Everywhere and Nowhere, There We Are. Sooah, a freshman, enters campus with the determination to keep the rules she set for herself. Meeting Woojung, who helped Sooah by chance, and cooperating with her at the student council, Sooah finds herself breaking the rules one by one, which eventually leads her to a dearer value; love. The contradictory personalities of the two raise difficulties in their relationship, but as any other couple would, they find the indisputable sincerity within each other and seek to hurdle the conflict together. For the last episode, the unconfessed affection of Yujin’s love towards Wujung is illustrated from her point of view. Many viewers emphasized with the sorrow of unrequited love, which “was everywhere, but nobody knew.” (*the last lines of Yujin)
The title Everywhere and Nowhere, There We Are directly refers to sexual minorities, and in this case, lesbians. About the meaning of the title, Dahyeon explained, “It’s just the name itself. We’re everywhere, but the world doesn’t say so. We wanted to break that.” The fact that the reality tries to isolate minorities and erase their presence, it forces others to obliterate that there are diverse people around. “The web drama is not objectively realistic. You can hardly find such an atmosphere in normal life. But by that, we wished to deliver that we’re here; we actually exist.”
The aspiration to show diversity in every way shone through in the details of each character. There are no hints for what major each character studies or even which kind of student council they’re part of. By showing both of Sungshin’s campuses, the producers did not even want any of the characters to be tied to one campus. From the deliberate ambiguity, the determination to leave no one out, not even the audience, is evident on screen.
Q. What are some of the details the audience did not seem to catch?
Jiwon: Overall, we tried not to display any hateful or discriminatory aspects. Presenting more images of sexual minorities was the main goal, but in that vein, we didn’t want to exclude others as well. So, we added lines that include vegans and those who do not pursue love as well.
Q. What did you care the most when preparing the drama?
Dahyeon: The most important part we cared the most about, was that it shouldn’t hurt anyone in any way. So as mentioned before, we considered a lot about hate e-x-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-ns or lines that could possibly become an issue. Another sharp argument we had was how we would deal with the theme; how to draw the subject. The first option was to show realistic problems and discriminations that minorities face and the second was to erase all such and achieve a more natural output. The reason we chose the second is because when the media dealt minorities, they took away the microphones. Mass media described them as ‘others’, a group of distant people. After the drama was released, I suppose that why the viewers enjoyed and emphasized in the story is because we talked in their voices.
Jiwon: We wanted it to be natural. When we started planning, we made sure not to forget our intentions of the project. ‘We’re not just making a web drama, we have a message we want to convey by turning over discrimination, and we want to deliver positive impact’. So, as Dahyeon said, we tried to portray sexual minorities in a general way. We considered between a calm or lighter mood, and chose the latter because we thought, ‘Why does minorities always have to be illustrated in a dark, grim approach?’
Q. Could you briefly describe the process of production?
Jiwon: No one ever experienced producing a drama. When we told the Visual Media Bureau that we would like to produce a web drama about college couples, the members planned it out a few days later. ‘This amount of budget is necessary, and we’ll need these kinds of things and et cetera’. It was a sudden start.
Dahyeon: The workload was so arduous that the head of the Visual Media Bureau had to pull all-nighters for a week, sleeping only a couple hours if possible. All of the team engaged in the project as if it was their workplace; not just an ordinary company, but a movie set.
Jiwon: At first, it was complex to even divide roles, since no one is professional. For other teams, everyone could play a role each, but we had to review everything together. For me, I just opened books and read them thoroughly. There’s a book named What Are Web Dramas at the Sungshin Central Library. It contains how web drama production teams are formed, and which roles are required, and I’m sure the director read much more than me. So, we assigned roles, and with the whole Visual Media Bureau and heads of other bureaus, we organized a kind of TF (task force) team. We discussed repeatedly, to derive ideas, materials and topics, to decide how to establish all three episodes, to set the characters and to plot the story and reviewed it over and over. We participated considerably in the story, but the lines were deeply affected by the writer. She was able to create something out of nothing. For instance, the cigarette scene of Yujin in the third episode was entirely shaped by her.
As they were shooting, an actor described that the film site of Everywhere and Nowhere, There We Are was better than any other. Still, there were many hardships for the team. Dahyeon shared, “The film site faced many bitter struggles. We rented the filming equipment for only two weeks, so we had to finish everything within that term. If it’s prolonged, the rental fee would have been quite a burden. Ninety percent of the cost was for the equipment, so we thought ‘We can’t extend. It has to end here.’ But the social distancing level hiked to 2.5 in the middle of shooting, so we inevitably had to cease the process.” According to Jiwon, “The crewmates of the Visual Media Bureau are really bright. They were serious when working but encouraged and complimented each other when taking breaks. It was demanding but still worthwhile.” Another miserable moment they confronted was when the sun rose during shooting. Jiwon explained, “We filmed the kissing scene at dawn, because the lightings are noticeable if it’s too dark at night. But it took too much time that the sun was coming up. We filmed almost everything but had to delay it and do the scene from the beginning on the next day.”
Withstanding the mixed expectations, the drama clearly presented its purpose to present minorities and its motive to spread positive influence gained bursts of applause. Thanks to the 33rd General Student Council and their well-made web drama, Sungshin is becoming a more open place, a stage that welcomes everyone.
By Na Hyunah Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org)