Comedian Kim Gura has never been one to mince his words. He has made it his trademark to say things in public that others shy away from. He had previously talked about how IU‘s explanation about her Twitter incident was lacking, how Kim Tae Hee is not desperate enough as an actress, and if you watch MBC‘s “Radio Star” or tvN‘s “War Of Words” then you know comments like these flow out of him on an almost weekly basis. This week’s choice Kim Gura analysis is on how to become a successful idol turned actor. What’s one of his key advice? To stay away from dramas produced by SM Entertainment.
On a recent episode of tvN’s taxi based talk show “Taxi” featuring ZE:A’s Park Hyung Sik, Lim Siwan and Kwanghee, Kim Gura and fellow “Taxi” MC, actress Hong Eun Hee, began to talk about how to become a successful idol turned actor. This is especially relevant given that the guests this week all happen to be making strides in the acting business. As expected from Kim Gura, his advice seem to scratch an itch that other MCs wouldn’t dare touch.
His first piece of advice in becoming a successful idol actor was to focus on KBS weekend dramas or one of their daily dramas. He talks about how this is a safe choice with consistently high ratings. They mention several examples like IU with KBS’s “You’re the Best, Lee Soon Shin,” YoonA with “You’re my Destiny,” UEE with “Ojakgyo Brothers” and Lee Seung Gi with “Famous Princesses.” All of these have a common thread in that they are all KBS dramas that run during the weekends or daily during the week. Hong Eun Hee also mentioned that these dramas tend to be recorded using Stand Up Studio Cameras rather than what is commonly called an “ENG (Electronic News Gathering)” Camera.
Just to explain, a studio camera is a massive camera designed to be used inside studios and are usually quite stationary. They also lack native recording abilities and send their video feed straight to a production control room, where the feed is then dealt with. You also tend to have multiple cameras that are synced together rolling at once. Even if you’re not the one on focus, the camera is still tracking you and so are the staff up in the production control room.
An ENG Camera is one of those large shoulder mount cameras you might have seen in music shows (The cameras that go up close to the singers) or in other outdoor places. These record their footage straight onto the camera and is quick in terms of having to restart recording if something goes wrong. You also tend to have just a single camera rolling when you are recording dramas using an ENG camera. Due to these differences Hong Eun Hee explained that if your acting is not up to par, then you’re going to get constant NGs (No Goods). She also mentions that because its not easy to just go again, there is added tension in these sort of projects and this has the benefit of increasing their acting skills.
KBS dramas of this sort tend to cast a very wide net in terms of demographics, aiming for pretty much every age group up to the 60’s and down to the teens while appealing to various social-economic groups with their expansive stories. They also have the benefit of being extremely long projects, with most being well over 50 episodes. The shear length of these projects allow them to flesh out numerous story arcs over the course of the drama. Let’s not forget that these dramas average 20~30% in ratings and you definitely can see why Kim Gura would recommend this.
Kim Gura 2nd advice and the one that ties in somewhat with his first point is that they should avoid dramas that focuses a lot on idols. His reasoning is simple, “If you fail then you fail together, but even if you succeed you have to share out that success.” He described it as “Having 20 people ordering a single pan of pizza.” Lim Siwan also mentioned that the issue with having a lot of idols on a drama is that it’s really hard to adjust their schedules. Kwanghee also talked about how in dramas with a heavy idol focus, the instant the ratings start to drop, everyone starts to take issue with idol acting.
Hong Eun Hee also made a very good point in saying that if they are having to run around because of their schedules, it means they have less time to actually show off their abilities. It also means that everyone tries to finish things up quickly so that everyone can go to their other respective schedules. There are expections. KBS’ “Dream High” was a reasonable success and was a purely idol based drama. However, the argument could be made that during the time that “Dream High” aired (early 2011), the concept of having an idol based drama was unheard of and an interesting proposition. Times have clearly changed since then, and plenty of idol based dramas after that started to fail in droves. Interesting enough, a lot of those dramas have a common thread and that is related to Kim Gura’s final advice.
Lastly, and what is probably the most interesting advice, Kim Gura mentioned that they should avoid dramas produced by SM Entertainment (Presumably that would now be SM C&C). This is especially relevant during this episode of “Taxi” since Kwanghee appeared in a SM Entertainment produced drama called “To The Beautiful You” featuring f(x)’s Sulli and SHINee’s Min Ho. I’m sure I don’t have to mention how badly that drama did in ratings but lets just say it averaged around 4~5%.
Kim Gura mentioned that despite being a massive agency, they still seem to be a bit lacking in terms of drama production since that is an industry that they are relatively new to. Kim Gura mentioned other SM produced dramas such as “Heading to the ground” featuring DBSK’s Yunho and “Paradise Ranch” featuring DBSK’s Changmin and SM Actresses Lee Yeon Hee. Interesting to note here that these two early SM dramas were actually produced before “Dream High” with “Heading to the Ground” airing in 2009 and “Paradise Ranch” actually airing about a month earlier than “Dream High.” “To The Beautiful You” also has the distinction of being SM’s first self produced drama, with the other two being jointly produced by another company.
Kim Gura then mentioned that SM Dramas tend to somewhat trendy and that if you just happen to hit a gold mine then it could be successful. Hong Eun Hee had some choice words regarding this, saying that they shouldn’t rely on the drama succeeding by plain luck and that they should always focus on getting praised for their roles no matter what project they take on. Hong Eun Hee then gave out one of the best quotes of the day saying that “A drama may fail but an actor can still stand out.”
This explains SM’s reasoning in terms of creating their “SM C&C” subsidiary. They realized that branching out into other industries is going to require different expertise and so it’s only right that a separate entity manages those extra-curricular activities. Will it be a success? Too early to say, however, one of SM C&C’s first productions, MBC’s real variety show “Splash!” was forced into an early end after safety concerns began to arise following a string of injuries.
So what do you think? Do Kim Gura’s advice for budding idol actors seem reasonable? Perhaps our readers have noticed other traits that haven’t been mentioned here? Sound off in the comments about what you think is key to becoming a successful idol actor.