Lost & Found Films’s This Must Be the Place

On occasion, the editors of Sight Unseen spot a story about creativity told from a viewpoint that’s not unlike our own. This one — the first film in a new series exploring the idea of home, by New York–based documentary duo Lost & Found Films — takes us inside the Boerum Hill apartment of Korean assemblage artist Chong Gon Byun. Like many object artists, Byun decorates through a process of accumulation, and he seems to regard his home as an extended art piece, fretting over the positioning and juxtaposition of each thing. The series, called This Must Be The Place, is the first self-initiated project by filmmakers Ben Wu and David Usui, who since forming Lost & Found a year ago have produced short docs mostly on commission for the likes of Wallpaper, Good, Wired, and The New York Times. We recently caught up with them to chat about the new project.

What inspired you to produce your own series?
David: Since it started, Lost & Found has always been about short-format documentaries. The idea is to tell stories as succinctly as possible and to fit them into the way the web has evolved.
Ben: The holy grail of documentary filmmakers is always to make features, but we think shorts are like short stories. We like the idea of capturing a moment.
David: Both Ben and I are loosely into design, but we were more interested in the way people create space and how that reflects their personalities. We interested in exploring how people express themselves in their homes rather than the design decisions they make.

Why were you specifically interested in exploring the idea of home?
Ben: Doing documentary work really is like a passport into these other worlds. You walk down your block every day on your way to work. Maybe your neighbor has a place like you’ve never seen before. We loved that idea that you really never have any idea about how other people are living.

How did you hook up with your first subject?
David: We met Byun a few years ago through a friend. He had an exhibition in Chelsea where he’d done these paintings on instruments, and our friend is a violin dealer. They hit it off. I get the sense he doesn’t give access to his space to too many people. He’s such an eccentric.

When you walk into a space, what’s your general philosophy about how you’d like to portray your subjects?
David: The idea is just to create something that you’d want to see and you hope others feel the same way. In many ways, it’s 180 degrees from other “design shows.” If you were producing a show for HGTV, you’d start with the space and ask them to talk about them. We prefer to get a sense of the person and to see how their space visually reflects that. Then we use that to tell their story.