Young filmmakers, not models, prep for Oscar stage

Updated 28 February 2014
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Young filmmakers, not models, prep for Oscar stage

LOS ANGELES: Bryson Kemp looks camera ready in his tuxedo. Bound for the Oscars, the 19-year-old is the picture of elegance.
Until he turns around and reveals rows of safety pins snaking down his pant legs and up the back of his jacket. The college student is being fitted for a custom tux for his first trip to the Academy Awards. It has to be perfect, because Kemp will definitely be on stage.
He’s a member of Team Oscar: Six aspiring young filmmakers from colleges across the country who will be handing Oscar statuettes to the stars presenting them Sunday night. Students are replacing the traditional trophy models for the second consecutive year.
“I feel so lucky and so honored,” said Kemp, back in his street clothes while a fellow Team Oscar member got the safety-pin treatment. “And the other five winners... they’re crazy good.”
Chosen from more than 2,000 submissions, the winning three men and three women represent different schools and filmmaking disciplines.
Besides Kemp, a composer studying at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania who dreams of scoring movies, the other students whose one-minute video entries won them an unforgettable Oscar experience are: Director-producer Tayo Amos of Stanford University, director Nathan Flanagan-Frankl of Orange, California’s Chapman University, cinematographer Zaineb Abdul-Nabi of the University of Michigan, writer-director Jean Paul Isaacs of Rutgers University in New Jersey, and animator-editor Mackenna Millet of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California
Amos thinks the winners were chosen for “diversity — not only of background and geography but also interests.”
“I hope they picked me because they saw my passion for directing and big-picture productions,” the 21-year-old said.
Returning Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron decided last year to replace the leggy models-for-hire that typically carry trophies on Oscar night with students seeking to work in the entertainment industry.
“They are so wide-eyed, and that’s the reason that we initiated the program,” Meron said. “We thought: Why not hopefully continue this amazing legacy — and these are the people to do it with — to open the doors and have everybody on stage be significant? To experience what the show means from that level, from an unjaded level, is what it’s all about.”
The students began their Team Oscar adventure Monday night. Tuesday included a trip to Disney Animation Studios, where the students met the Oscar-nominated directors of “Frozen,” a visit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ vast archive at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, California, and a private fitting for Oscar-worthy formalwear.
Isaacs, who already won a contest to have a short film play at the Cannes Film Festival, said his experience with Team Oscar will “fuel my inspiration and provide me with indescribable confidence and spirit that one day I could come back on my own merit.”
“Just to be a part of this environment is awesome,” the 22-year-old said.
Millet said, “Seeing my dad so proud has one of the best parts.”
The students have been excitedly considering all the stars they’ll meet this week from their rarified position backstage.
Flanagan-Frankl and Millet say they’re most eager to meet Oscar presenter, nominee and past winner Jennifer Lawrence.
“I would definitely be star-struck, but it’s just how you handle it,” Flanagan-Frankl said. “I definitely would want to play it cool as best I can.”
Amos said if she meets supporting actress nominee Lupita Nyong’o, “I would cry.”
“I won’t be composed at all,” she said.
Kemp hopes to meet 49-time nominee John Williams, up this year for his score for “The Book Thief.”
“He’s my idol,” Kemp said. “It would be such an honor. If I had a tenth of his success, I’d be the happiest guy alive.”


’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

(FILES) This photo taken on March 22, 2016 shows a child gesturing to a woman at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018
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’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

  • Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead

SEOUL: When Ashley Park started her marketing job at a Seoul drugmaker she had a near-perfect college record, flawless English, and got on well with her colleagues — none of which mattered to her employer once she fell pregnant.
Nine months after she joined, Park said, “They said to my face that there is no place in the company for a woman with a child, so I needed to quit.”
All the women working at the firm were single or childless, she suddenly realized, and mostly below 40.
Park’s case exemplifies why so many South Korean women are put off marriage and childbirth, pushing the country’s birth rate — one of the world’s lowest — ever further down.
Earlier this month Seoul announced its latest set of measures to try to stem the decline, but critics say they will have little to no effect in the face of deep-seated underlying causes.
Many South Korean firms are reluctant to employ mothers, doubting their commitment to the company and fearing that they will not put in the long hours that are standard in the country — as well as to avoid paying for their legally-entitled birth leave.
When Park refused to quit, her boss relentlessly bullied her — banning her from attending business meetings and ignoring her at the office “like I was an invisible ghost” — and management threatened to fire her husband, who worked at the same company.
After fighting for about six months, she finally relented and offered her resignation, giving birth to a daughter a month later. Aside from a brief stint at an IT start-up that did not keep its promise of flexible working hours, she has been a stay-at-home mother ever since.
“I studied and worked so hard for years to get a job when youth unemployment was so high, and enjoyed my work so much... and look what happened to me,” Park told AFP.
Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead.
“The government kept telling women to have more children... but how, in a country like this?” she asked.

The South’s fertility rate — the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — fell to 0.95 in the third quarter of 2018, the first time it has dropped below 1 and far short of the 2.1 needed to maintain stability.
As a result of the trend, which has been dubbed a “birth strike” by women, the population of the world’s 11th largest economy, currently 51 million, is expected to start falling in 2028.
Many cite reasons ranging from the expense of child-rearing, high youth unemployment, long working hours and limited daycare to career setbacks for working mothers.
Even if women hold on to their jobs, they bear a double burden of carrying out the brunt of household chores.
Patriarchal values remain deeply ingrained in the South: nearly 85 percent of South Korean men back the idea of women working, according to a state survey, but that plummets to 47 percent when asked whether they would support their own wives having a job.
Employment rates for married men and women are dramatically different — 82 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Now nearly three-quarters of South Korean women aged 20-40 see marriage as unnecessary, an opinion poll by a financial magazine and a recruitment website showed. But almost all children in the South are born in wedlock.

Against that backdrop, the South’s government has spent a whopping 136 trillion won ($121 billion) since 2005 to try to boost the birth rate, mostly through campaigns to encourage more young people to wed and reproduce, without success.
Earlier this month it announced yet another round of measures.
They included expanding child subsidies of up to 300,000 won ($270) a month, and allowing parents with children younger than eight to work an hour less each day to take care of their offspring.
More daycare centers and kindergartens will be built, and men will be allowed — but not obliged — to take 10 days of paid birth leave, up from the current three.
But many measures were not legally binding and carried no punishment for firms that denied their workers the promised benefits, and the package met a disdainful response.
“The government policies are based on this simplistic assumption that ‘if we give more money, people would have more children’,” the Korea Women Workers Association said in a statement.
Seoul should first address “relentless sexual discrimination at work and the double burden of work and housechores” for women, it added.
The centrist Korea Times newspaper also questioned whether such “lacklustre” state policies would bring in real change unless the government tackled the real drivers of women shunning marriage and childbirth.
“Unless these harsh conditions for women change, no amount of government subsidies will convince women having children is a happy choice.”