“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a series of meals set on flower farms across the country. Each dinner is curated by a local chef and floral designer, highlighting the region’s produce and flowers. This is the story of Santa Cruz, California.”
The opening lines introduce “Field to Vase: Santa Cruz,” a new documentary filmed, written and produced by the Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife team, Hyunsoo Moon and Haejung Kim.
This past June, Haejung and “Moon” traveled to Santa Cruz in pursuit of a visual narrative that had captured their creative imaginations. They were enamored with the storytelling potential of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and wanted to document their observations on film.
The result of their efforts is “Field to Vase: Santa Cruz,” a documentary about the American grown flower movement and the people involved in the floral renaissance that is taking place on farms and in flower shops across the country.
The 7:39-minute documentary portrays the field-to-vase story, through the voices of the flower farmer, the floral designer, the chef, and the people who advocate for and enjoy American grown flowers.
Haejung Kim has been a motion graphics designer at ABC Entertainment for the past 12 years. Her husband and partner Hyunsoo Moon is a film editor who has worked in reality television, documentaries, short films and music videos. The “Field to Vase” documentary is their first collaboration.
On the occasion of the documentary’s launch, we asked Haejung and “Moon” to discuss the film and share what it meant to them:
F2V: What inspired you to create this project?
Haejung: I was getting into flower designing, so one day earlier this year I played hooky from work and attended the World Floral Expo in Los Angeles. My friend Mud Baron of Muir Ranch was there promoting local flowers and he introduced me to Kasey Cronquist of the American Grown project. I am a Master Gardener, but talking with Kasey was really the first time I learned that most flowers sold in the U.S. are from South America. I was so blown away by that fact. I came home and told Moon about this.
Moon: At the same time, I had just watched a fantastic film about French restaurateur Alain Ducasse called ‘Naturalite’, which tells the story of all the ingredients — the fish, the meat, the vegetables, even the interior design — that pass through the hands of makers and purveyors before arriving at his restaurant. It is a beautiful culmination of people working together to make one place feel special. What I took away from that film was a sense of gratefulness. Gratefulness is what people should feel when they look at a plate of food or at a vase of flowers. When Haejung brought up the idea of possibly documenting the American flower growers, I understood the heart of the Field to Vase story.
F2V: Moon, since you didn’t know much about flowers, how did you approach the project?
Moon: I think consumers need to understand where products come from. We live in a time where it’s all about “brands,” not products with human faces behind them. There is a disconnect between producers and consumers because it’s convenient to think only about “what do I get out of it and how much do I have to pay for it?” When it comes to flowers and food, I see that we are wasting so much fuel and polluting the earth just for conveniences. I want the money I spend to be used for more than my own good. I want to know who makes what I buy and how that product gets to me.
F2V: Haejung, how did you approach the documentary as a producer?
Haejung: I wasn’t completely sure what the story was going to be until we started interviewing people. As we began to learn more about what was happening in the floral industry, Moon and I both had this feeling that we needed to put faces on the products we consume. For me, the interviews felt like a conversation. When I was doing the interviews, I had to hold back and stop myself. I knew the interview had to be clean, so I was nodding with my eyes rather than speaking in response to the interviewee.
F2V: How did you visualize the documentary’s scenes?
Haejung: We both have an aesthetic eye for setting up shots, but Moon’s more technical and I’m perhaps more intuitive. This was a great experience and it was a surprise to see how well we worked together.
F2V: How much footage did you capture? And Moon, how did you approach the editing process?
Moon: We had around 10 hours of footage. I usually just start with the interviews – that’s where the story happens. I listened to all the interviews and picked out important points. I select parts that felt like the beginning, the ending and somewhere in the middle. Eventually, I began to see the story’s structure.
Haejung: I was supporting the editing process, but it was pretty much Moon. I went through the interviews and identified some important quotes and moments. Then when he had a rough draft, we watched it together to make editing decisions.
F2V: What else was important during the editing process?
Haejung: Music had a really big role in terms of conveying emotion. Moon tried a lot of different music and as he did, the feeling of the piece changed.
Moon: I scoured through a lot of free audio libraries and royalty-free tracks like Seastock Audio. The singer-songwriter Moby recently opened up his library for independent filmmakers and students to use and because of that we used his track “Chord Sounds” for the documentary’s final scenes. I can’t really imagine any other music that would make that closing scene work.
F2V: What was your goal in creating the “Field to Vase” documentary?
Haejung: Anyone can look online and find information about imports versus American grown flowers. So we didn’t want to make a documentary that was a public-service announcement. Instead, we wanted to deliver the message through emotion. Rather than lecturing people about flowers, we wanted to inspire them through their beauty and the way people are affected by them. I especially love the moments that capture people having a sip of wine and laughing as we showed the warm, social aspect of the Field to Vase Dinner through feelings and emotions. This documentary connects people with food, flowers and craft . . . as we ride into the dinner.
Moon: At the beginning I wasn’t really into flowers. I think they’re beautiful, but to be perfectly honest, they never held that much interest for me. But I have friends who are florists and of course, my wife is totally into flowers. I felt the tug through people who are close to me. I couldn’t help but realize that something important was happening. I wanted to understand flowers in my own way through the film. For me, it was the exploration of this idea — of who is behind the flowers; of observing the affect that these flowers have on people. I experienced the emotion of gratitude and beauty. Our natural world is profoundly depended on the existence of flowers. I wanted to give flowers the respect and the value that they are due.
About the filmmakers:
Haejung Kim has been a motion graphics designer at ABC Entertainment for the past 12 years. She recently quit her job to pursue a dream — a cross country road trip around the US in an RV. She plans to explore her passions of food, nature, gardening and art while seeing the country. Haejung’s floral designs can be found at her blog, wilderflowers.com, and you can follow her adventures with Moon on awilderseason.com.
Hyunsoo “Moon” moved from Boston to Los Angeles four years ago to start a career in editing. He has been editing various projects, including reality television, documentaries, short films, and music videos. His most recent work, “Give Me Sex Jesus,” a documentary about the sexual struggles of evangelical Christians, was released on Vimeo. He has recently embarked on a year-long cross country road trip in an RV with his wife. More of his work and life can be seen at moonswork.com and at awilderseason.com.