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Palme d’Or winner ‘Parasite’ guarantees 52-hour workweek for film crew

Palme d’Or winner ‘Parasite’ guarantees 52-hour workweek for film crew

Posted May. 28, 2019 07:39,   

Updated May. 28, 2019 07:39


With Director Bong Joon-ho’s latest film “Parasite” winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, his strict adherence to the 52-hour workweek policy in the shooting process is getting public attention. Considering the filming industry’s notoriety for excessive overtime, this bears much significance.

In a recent interview, Director Bong said he had signed a “standard labor contract” with his staff members. “I’ve gotten the hang of working in compliance with the American regulations, working on ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013) and ‘Okja’ (2017),” said the South Korean director. “Since I’ve trained the 52-worksheet practice for eight years, there was no trouble working under the standard rules this time.”

A standard labor contract is a contract that details workers and users in terms of working hours, overtime pay, contract term, and so on. It was once considered a practice to hire staff in the form of subcontracted contracts for a long time without a standard labor contract at a film production site. The staff was not recognized as a worker under the Labor Standards Act and did not have to keep the minimum wage and legal working hours.

 However, the 2015 movie industry investors, producers, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Film Promotion Committee introduced standard labor contracts in accordance with the Tripartite Agreement. In 2014, the movie "International Markets" received a great deal of attention by keeping a 12-hour shooting time per day by signing a standard labor contract from the planning stage.

According to the Korean Film Council, 74.8 percent of filming staff said they had signed standard labor contracts in 2018. The proportion of such response has been surging from 35.3 percent in 2014 to 53.4 percent in 2016. The practice, however, is not entirely in place yet with half of the respondents who said no citing “refusal by employer” as reason.

For producers, introducing the standard contract can lead to a rise in cost. But Director Bong said that it must be perceived as a “positive rise.” “As artist in charge, I am in a position to utilize manpower and give instructions, so it has always been pressure for me to see the amount of work hours and intensity increasing because of the decisions I had to make.” Mr. Bong explained. “Now I feel that the practice is being normalized at last.”

“ Parasite” was completed in a total of 77 shootings. Director Bong’s detailed work style made it possible to produce the movie successfully while sticking to the legal work hours. “In Bong’s world, everything is calculated and built with extreme precision,” explained Song Kang-ho, the male lead of the Palme d'Or award winning movie. “Bong’s precision shone the most when it comes mealtimes. We worked in a very happy environment.”

Eun-Seo Park clue@donga.com