[COMMENTARY] A New Age: Clash of Civilizations


A New Age: Clash of Civilizations is now live on the Baek Ho Productions YouTube channel! If you haven't had a chance to see the film, click the video above to see our alternate-history story. 

This film would not have been possible without our incredible cast and crew (both production and post-production), in addition to the gracious support of our IndieGogo backers. I am deeply grateful to everyone who lent their support and time to this project. 진심으로 감사합니다.

I wanted to take some time and dive a little into the lore, history, and thought process behind this film, since it only offers a brief glimpse into a larger story. 


 HONEST NEWS: Jimmy Danthers (Joe Harkins) brings facts to his viewing audiences.

HONEST NEWS: Jimmy Danthers (Joe Harkins) brings facts to his viewing audiences.

I really love the opening newscast. It helps make the universe of the film feel much more alive and lays down more context to the political background of the film. Additionally, Joe Harkins brings a great performance as the newscaster, Jimmy Danthers; adding a smile and warmth to an otherwise politically selfish story.

THE EAGLE AND TIGER: U.S. President Welles (Joseph Carolan) and Chosun Prime Minister Seong (Kabe Park)

BACKDOOR TALKS: U.S. Chief of Staff, Donald Ryans (Robin F. Baker), secretly meets with the Chosun minister, Yoon Taek-soo (Joomin Hwang)

I really like the stark contrast between these two moments.

During the newscast, we see a very ideal meeting between the United States and Chosun Korea (this scene was directed by our 2nd Unit Director, Christian Lagalante). The U.S. President and Chosun Prime Minister, surrounded by press and photographers, shake hands, sit down, and have a honest discussion in the presence of many viewers. Outwardly, it looks like something was accomplished and all should be merry and well. But that's not the (entire) truth.

We are then shown Yoon Taek-soo (Joomin Hwang), the Right-State Chancellor of Chosun, standing alone in that same room. The hall is dark, save for the sunlight beaming through the windows. The chairs (the symbolic seats of power) are empty. He is then approached by the U.S. Chief of Staff, Donald Ryans (Robin F. Baker). Here, the real deal-making begins. The two political actors carefully poke and prod each other throughout their dialogue; teasing their intentions and the cards in their hands. 

Here, there is a distinction between "public politics" and "private politics." The former is to appease the people and is headed by familiar faces (aka, the Heads of State). The latter is darker and dirtier; handled by people who are either lackeys of their leaders or are the true wielders of national power. It is a very interesting dichotomy. 

FALLING STARS: Qing aircraft begin bombardment of New Tang positions

CLOSED-DOOR SUMMIT: The Qing Envoy meets with the Chosun delegation

I really like the transition between the news coverage of the situation in Qing China and the closed-door meeting between Qing's envoy and the Chosun delegation.

So far in the film (and in the extended material shown in On the Horizon and Heart of Power), we have a faint idea that the situation in Qing China is not good. There is a rapidly growing insurgency, calling itself the New Tang Movement, spreading across the Middle Kingdom. Their power has even grown to the point where the U.S. - as hinted by Donald Ryans in the preceding scene - is considering whether or not to support them. 

Then, we see a fleet of planes flying over a battlefield, before beginning their descent. The succeeding scenes are from the perspective of live newscasts. We are never told the national identity of the planes (we only presume Qing) or the nature of the objects falling from the sky (missiles or the planes). At that instant, we hear a frantic news reporter state that Qing is desperately trying to halt New Tang's advance. Cut to the next newscast, and we see the flaming ruins of a city and hear artillery fire in the distance. A different news reporter now says that after "last night's heavy assault," the Qing army is bombarding New Tang positions.  

Transition, and we are now in the middle of a closed-door meeting between Qing's envoy and the Chosun delegation, where the former is adamant that the situation in his country is under control. 

We are left not entirely sure of what's going on in Qing China. At first, it seems like the ruling dynasty is desperately fighting against New Tang. But then we see the opposite: Qing's army is launching heavy assaults and bombing out New Tang holdouts. There are two very different pieces of information being presented. And now Chosun - and our visionary protagonist, Yoon Taek-soo - must make a decision on how to act. 

It is a situation that is not without basis in the real world ..


 A RISING POWER: Yoon Taek-soo (Joomin Hwang) dreams of a greater future for his people.

A RISING POWER: Yoon Taek-soo (Joomin Hwang) dreams of a greater future for his people.

Towards the end of the film, we are shown Yoon Taek-soo's true aspirations and the reaction of his leader. What will happen next? What will Chosun ultimately decide? How will it affect the summit's proceedings? Perhaps someday, we will find out.

Perhaps the Prime Minister sides with Yoon Taek-soo and maybe their dreams succeed and Chosun reclaims its historical land, becoming a dynamic, economic power akin to the current Republic of Korea. Or, their decision is preempted by the Chinese situation which spirals out of control; leaving Chosun no room to act on their own. Maybe, the Prime Minister refuses and Chosun falls into an internal struggle between the Prime Minister's faction and Yoon Taek-soo's faction. Who knows? 

A New Age: Clash of Civilizations is an alternate history short film, and (hopefully) it is evident that there is a clear divergence from actual history. But history does repeat itself. There is nothing new under the sun. If we look back on our own history, we can maybe glean what will become of the world and characters presented in A New Age: Clash of Civilizations. 

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