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Film for a CauseUSC Students Produce Film Documenting the Plight of Abandoned Babies in South KoreaJanuary 14, 2013 • by News at Marshall
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Dropbox is a powerful new documentary focusing on the plight of abandoned babies in South Korea. It introduces the story of Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who built a "dropbox" on the outer wall of his home to save these babies and started an orphanage to care for them. The film crew who was touched by this story of faith, hope and love is composed of a group of students from three USC schools, including the Marshall School of Business, eager to use their skills to change the world.
Dropbox was not created for a class or for academic credit. The film is a passion project spearheaded by writer/director Brian Ivie '13 from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. His crew included several students from Southern California, including four from USC. Sarah Choi '13, Bryce Komae '13 and Sam Jo '13 are students in the Marshall School of Business, and Will Tober '13 is in the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
"This movie was directed by a team," said Ivie. "I can honestly go back through the movie and pinpoint which scenes or sequences belong to each team member."
When Ivie told Choi about his idea for the film in 2011, Choi was instantly hooked. "Everything aligned with my academic skills, being at Marshall and being in the Business/Cinematic Arts program, and engaging in this international issue which is something I was really drawn to," Choi said.
We asked Choi, as one of the team members from the Marshall School, to share her experiences with us. Choi is credited as a producer on the film. It was her job to handle and coordinate most of the major business aspects of launching and shooting the film, tasks including logistics for travel to Korea, interview setups, finding sponsorships, marketing and PR. She also acted as a Korean translator while the group was overseas.
The team is submitting the 72-minute film to the film festival circuit and production companies to find a studio to finance or distribute it. At the same time, Choi is taking charge of establishing a nonprofit foundation to handle donations for JuSarang orphanage. Currently, 20 children, many of them disabled, share a small, humble two-story home on the outskirts of Seoul; but Jong-rak has bought some land to build a new barrier-free home.
"Our immediate goal from this film is to hopefully raise enough funds so we can help the kids and the pastor with the remodeling and furnishing of the new orphanage to better accommodate the needs of the disabled children," said Choi.
The nonprofit aspect of the project ties in perfectly with Choi's work as an SBL Scholar with the USC Marshall Society and Business Lab, whose mission is to develop new strategies for solving global and social issues such as poverty, homelessness, education and health care.
"SBL has given me a new perspective to see how I can incorporate aspects of business and the entertainment industry for good and to foster positive impact," she said.
Working on Dropbox was educational in yet another way. "Working with disabled kids in particular makes you see the world differently — there is so much that we take for granted," Choi said. "Seeing that these children have no problems with life and they are so happy, and seeing how the pastor overlooks all their flaws and loves them completely, has definitely taught me a lot about the world."
Choi, a second-generation Korean-American who was born and raised in California, has traveled extensively as part of her USC Marshall experience, taking advantage of academic opportunities in Chile and China as well as a semester abroad in Hong Kong.
"As a business and cinematic arts student, Sarah combined her academic endeavors with her Korean language ability and ended up with the opportunity of a lifetime," said Kim West, associate dean of Marshall's undergraduate program. "Sarah's involvement in the making of Dropbox is a wonderful example of how Marshall students use international opportunities to enhance their academic pursuits."
Choi is interested in branding and marketing in the social arena with an eye on a career in a social enterprise or nonprofit organization. But she may take a few months to complete the Dropbox project before starting graduate studies. In the meantime, she and Ivie recently traveled to Chad, Africa, for a well-building project and to work on a promotional video for the nonprofit organizations Good Neighbors and Somang Society.
"I have been really lucky to have the opportunity to practice my business skills in the film industry and in the real world," said Choi.
To view the trailer and read more about "Dropbox," please visit www.dropbox-movie.com.
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.