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Illang Protect Gear Gallery

Vanessa Mi-Kyung Lee (Super Suit Factory Inc.) exclusive interview

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Vanessa Mi-Kyung Lee (Super Suit Factory Inc.) exclusive interview


Vanessa Mi-Kyung Lee is the founder of the company Super Suit Factory Inc. located in LA.
Specializing in the production of special costumes for the cinema, she has worked on many Hollywood blockbusters such as Underworld, X-Men 3, Iron Man 2, Tron Legacy or The Amazing Spiderman to name a few.
Involved in the development and manufacture of the Protect Gears of the film Illang, Ms. Lee has very kindly accepted my request for an interview, so it is with great joy that I invite you to discover some secrets about these new versions of the Kerberos armors!


Protect Gear Saga:
1) Ms. Lee hello, thank you for accepting this interview to learn more about the armor seen in the movie Illang!
Your company Super Suit Factory make costumes, armors and special makeups for Hollywood movies since over 10 years, how did you start this activity and how whave you been sollicited to participate to the movie Illang?

Vanessa Mi-Kyung Lee:
First I start as a pattern maker in fashion industry and always curious about movie costume and one of my friend who is fabricator for movies recommend me for helping this project Underworld.
When she ask me about making patterns for werewolf I was confused and happy all at the same time because I’m a huge American werewolf in London fan and I was total werewolf nerd and that was my first movie.

Since then I learned a lot from great fabricators who was working in the industry and it’s been 14 years.

So that’s how I stared my "Fabricator" career.

For working on movie Illang was through Alliance studio
My good friend and fellow artist Steve Wang and Eddie Yang is owner of Alliance studio and actually they got the movie job and contact me for fabrication.
We been doing lot of collaboration work through years and they call me in for fabricating suits.

Eddie Yang who was lead designer and legendary FX sculptor Steve Wang’s art direction and super suit factory’s know how in suit fabrication was perfect mix for making Protect Gears.

Eddie Yang, actor Choi Min-ho and the director Kim Jee Won
Visit of special make-up effects creator veteran Rick Baker at Alliance Studio

2) Illang is a Korean movie based on a background previousely developed in Japan, can you tell us about the creating process of the Protect Gears? Is it a Korean artist who provided the designs? Was there collaboration with Japan?

First, It is designed by Alliance studio here in LA.

Eddie Yang and Steve wang has been worked in a lot of legendary SF movie characters like Predator, Alien, Ironman etc. and Korean production company contact them to make the suit and they ask me (Super Suit Factory INC.) to be on board as a main fabricator.

Then I started from research history about suit and we were not able to go through Japan side so I watch all of Kerberos series 1987 The Red Spectacles to 2000 Jin-Roh so we don’t have to loose "the feel" of the suit and yet we have to make it look somewhat new and cool
and we go through lot of meeting and material search.

That’s what I was really happy when I heard director Mamoru Oshii did really like the suit!

3) Did you participate in the costume design?

Yes Super Suit Factory, Alliance Studio and Korean production all worked really close when it comes to design the suit.
These kind of specialty suit are made out of 15-30 people’s team work.


The Super Suit Factory team at work

4) For the needs of a French magazine, I have contributed to the interview of the actor Yoshikatsu Fujiki who starred in Kerberos Panzer Cops Straydog movie in 1992.
Mr. Fujiki told us that it was very difficult for him to move once in the armor ...
In Illang, the action sequences are numerous, did you take into account this parameter in the fabrication of the Protect Gears? (security of stuntmen, easy free movements etc.)

Yes and specialty suits are heavy and uncomfortable and that’s part of my job and it is very important to make it easy to move and I have to know what type of scene we are shooting and I put extra stuff in to make the shot easy.

When we are making I know I have to deal with water and fire but to make sure I read full script and break down into scene so I know what to expect.

Also I have to exchange email with stunt team so I know what they need and stuff. Once again stunt team was amazing in the movie !! Big shout out for them !!

5) Often in the movies the costumes in the foreground, and those seen in the background do not necessarily have the same specificities in terms of quality, can you tell us about the different types of armor used in the film? The main actors had specific armors?

Yes the main actor has mask removable function and we had his body scan in LA so suits are made to fit on home perfectly.
Backgrounds are generic M,L,XL size.


Actor Choi Min-ho inside his tailored Protect Gear

6) Can you tell us more details about the materials used for the various part of the armors? (helmet, armor, mask, combination...)?

Well, we literally use various material in the suit. Leather, fabric, urethan, fiberglass, metal, silicon, polyfoam, fireproof coating, waterproof coating, plastic and that’s why fabriactors have to know a lot of field not only sewing.

A near finished Protect Gear for approval at Alliance Studio

7) How much did you make Protect Gears in total?

We made 24, l believe.
I only have to make suits for main actors and rest of them are duplicated later.

8) As we can imagine, the actors behind the red-eyed masks had to have a minimum visibility...
Where exactly it was possible for them to see through the mask?

For specialty costume we have a lot of tricks to put view point, for Illang it was around the red lenses.

The meshes around the red lenses permit to see outside

9) Always about the red eyes, which are the visual signature of this universe, how did they functions in Illang? (LED bulbs? Other light system?)

It was LED but there’s a lot of different way to put in to give different look and that’s one of the top skill in Alliance Studio.
They have amazing election specialist Michael Deak (who also is actor), and it was his magical touch.

10) As in previous versions, ammunition is located in a back compartment that is briefly seen in the film.
Is this special back pack was made for every armor or it was only made for this specific sequence?

Yes it was only one we made for that scene.

11) Many scenes of the film take place in the water, did it cause any particular problems with Protect Gears?

Well I use waterproof urethan coated fabrics but the problem they had was not that waterproof part.

The main actor Kang Dong-won said that the mesh that I put in for ventilation (they were start shooting in late summer) made them too cold when movie shooting stretched to early winter and that ventilation mesh was around butt area so…
Yep, didn’t think about that far…
That was my bad…

Costumes and armors were made with waterproof materials

12) The armors must have suffered during the filming, and we imagine that some have probably been destroyed after shoooting... Can you tell us how many are still in good condition today?

That I haven heard any from production but I think they put two suits on display in Korean film archive museum in Korea so I believe few of them survived through?

13) Where is this museum?

400 World cup buk-ro, Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.

14) As conclusion, would you have anecdotes or fun facts in relation to Protect Gears to tell us? (jokes, incidents during stunts etc.)

Question number 11 was pretty funny incident, I found out through Mr Kang Dong-won's interview and laughed a lot!

Next time I will make ventilation open and close… (laugh)

Thank you very much Ms. Lee for taking the time to answer to our questions, it was an honor for us to make this interview with you!


Protect Gear Saga - November 2018