15 Kasım 2010 Pazartesi

Notes on Film Noir and Pickpocket

I have decided to share two articles by Paul Schrader. One of them is about Film Noir and the second article is about Bresson's film Pickpocket. I was looking for the first article for a long time but couldn't find it even in his website but recently I found the book, Schrader on Schrader in Taik's Documentary Department and the article was inside! I thought I might scan and share it in my blog since I find it very important. Moreover, it is also interesting how I wrote about Film Noir when I first started this blog. I think we now need this article in this space to sum up the whole idea! I am sure Mr. Schrader will not be happy about that!
I will try to write more about Film Noir since I got to see Samuel Fuller's films in Orion, Helsinki and I would also like to write more on Bresson, more on more I become more attached to him and I believe understanding his cinema and his method is crucial!
Well, if you would like to get more pdfs from Schrader's writings in LA Press in the 60's, click here!
For Notes on Film Noir, click here!
For Pickpocket, click here!

9 Kasım 2010 Salı

What Have I Learned Today?

Yesterday morning, I was asked by my directing teacher Jarmo Lampela to produce a one minute script and shoot it the next day which means this morning. The main idea for this exercise was to enhance our skills on ADR which is the dubbing process. Dubbing is the post production process of recording and replacing voices on a motion picture or television soundtrack subsequent to the original shooting.
One of the major reasons why I love the film department in Taik is that you are always asked to produce short films in a very small scale of time. That kind of exercises really teaches you how to become alert all the time not only in case of film practice but also as an individual. For exemple, Susanna Helke's class was held in a way that we were expected to write small articles all the time on subjects such as what is political for us and what kind of political events have we had that had a long term affect on our lives. These kind of exercises really teaches you to become aware of your surrounding and help you in a way to deepen your skills in filmmaking.
I was informed by Jarmo that I would get two actors, one male and one female so I had to write a short story about a couple. Moreover, I wanted to emphasize the sound because we were going to practice ADR for the first time and I really wanted the sound has a major point in the story. This is the story I came up with:

Tom is in the kitchen to make some coffee. Julia is in the bathroom brushing her teeth. Tom takes two cups from the closet and starts boiling the water. He asks if she wants any coffee. “Black or white” he adds. She says black but her answer is incomprehensible because of the brush in her mouth. Tom goes to the toilet and asks her again. Her answer is black. He puts hot water in two cups -one of them is black, the other is white- and he puts milk in one of them. Julia goes out from the bathroom and takes the black coffee. Tom approaches her and hits the glasses. He seems happy. “To Buenos Aires” he says. Julia grimaces and explains that she won’t be able to make it. “Why not?” says Tom still hugging Julia and trying to kiss her. “We will have the best time of our life there!” Julia steps back harder and saves herself from Tom. Tom takes Julia’s coffee and runs to the bathroom. He locks the door. Julia comes to the bathroom but she cannot get in because the door is locked. She tries to apologize but he is busy washing the cups. He pours both cups in the lavatory and that creates a weird mixture of both milky and black coffee.

We had to shoot it very fast and we only had one hour to shoot all the actions. In case of filmmaking, I always tend to think storytelling by shots, in a way that I would like to shoot the scenes by blocking the actors and the actions in the right compositional way, starting from a wide shot to the close ups in the end and so forth. I always feel secure by using that methodology and it is really hard to skip a shot.
Well for this exercise, I had to shoot the shots by rolling all the story from the beginning to the end. I think it was quite difficult for the actors since they had to perform all the text once we said action. The reason why I chose this way because I didn't have time to rehearse with the actors. I didn't really know how I was going to block them in case of the place of the camera and editing. I gave my camera operator full initiatives which gave me a chance to concentrate on the actors.
I just finished synchronizing the materials and made a rough cut. I realized that I shot one establishing shot, two medium shots and one medium shot in the bathroom. I think it would be better if we had some close up. Anyway, I think we did a good job in a very limited time! Now we will see what happens with the editing and the sound design.

31 Ekim 2010 Pazar

Scenes From a Marriage

Before coming to Helsinki, I never realized that I would go back to my theater days but this time not as an actor but as a filmmaker. I met Carine Ravaud, production designer student from Paris and she was already designing a Bergman play Scenes From a Marriage in Helsinki. She told me that the director would like to use video installations during the play and asked me if I would be interested. My answer was yes without any hesitations.
Next Monday, I went to Helsinki Theater School, Teak to meet with the director. Marcus Groth was directing the play and the next thing I know, we were already in the process of brainstorming.
Marcus was looking for a realistic and natural way of telling the story. The actors were trained to perform in a natural manner and the set design was built in a realistic way. I knew from that moment that at least the introduction video should act to fulfill the set design and extend the idea of home feeling in the mind of the audience.
But to accomplish that, I also knew that I needed elements of tension because the intro scene had a crescendo. I wanted to divide the composition by emphasizing the difference between man and woman and I used objects that can sometimes be dangerous such as knifes and boiling water.
Between the acts, we have decided to use animal couples, Marcus had the idea to show the animals to underline how it is actually easy to be together. For this reason, I spent plenty of time looking for animals that would match what we are looking for. I went to a stable to shoot some horses, I shot squirrels, swans, dogs and fishes. We didn't really like the horses and the squirrels (although I found the experience rewarding!) and we went to use swans, fishes and dogs. The reaction to these videos by the audience was extremely satisfying. I believe we were able to extend the play with the installations.
To shoot the introduction videos, I have visited a lot of houses. I was lucky since the people in Teak found me couples where I could go and shoot their homes. And in that sense, I was able to see inside the houses of real Finnish people which was also a rewarding experience.
We had ten shows and we had the last play last Saturday on 30. 10. 2010. We had really good reviews which I have shared some of the links with you below. I will never forget the experience, I will definitely miss everybody that I met at Teak during the production. It was a really good opportunity and I feel really lucky to be a part of it. I think the play was a blast!
Below is an extract from the introduction video originally used in the play. Of course the video by itself doesn't really say much because it was made to be shown during the opening scene where the characters are interviewed by a journalist.

Here some of the articles and reviews:
On Radio in Finland!
The photographs above are taken by Niklas Sandström.

26 Eylül 2010 Pazar

3 Day Lecture with Christine Vachon at Aalto University

It is not easy for me to define my feelings about the lecture conducted by Vachon since she has been producing today's cinema most appreciated independent and arthouse films. Her collaboration with Todd Haynes and Todd Solondz and her virtue to discover first time filmmakers has always been a fascination for me and the lecture gave me an insight look of how to really operate in a system like American Cinema and yet creating very personal and auteur films today which seems almost impossible!
A few years ago when I went to my hometown to visit my parents, I realised there was a new book in the house. It was a book by Andrew Bailey edited by Paul Duncan and the name of the book was Cinema Now. As I turned the pages, I came to understand that there were many filmmakers operating today which I never even heard of. And one of them which really attracted me with its strong visuals was Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven.
Three years ago, I came across a detailed interview with Ed Lachman which was conducted by American Cinematographer. It was about the new film by Todd Haynes, a biopic on the life of Bob Dylan. I knew from that moment that this was never going to be released in Turkey. Yet I was wrong, it was released but a little bit delayed. However, I saw the film in a very small theater in London in 2008 and the impact was inevitable.
Christine is that kind of a producer. She is smart, practical, funny and she has a very strong sense of what will work in cinema and what will not work since she has been in this business more than twenty years producing more than three films in a year.
She advised us about many things. About presenting a film to a sale agent to exhiting a film in a major film festival. She talked about the new narrative forms of today and how twitter was going to be bigger that facebook in terms of social media, communication and marketing and distributing a film.
She said the most important thing is to articulate a vision properly! Effecting talking in a comforting level is the most important aspect of how to pitch a film! And pitching is a skill. Not everybody has it. Look for the people who has invested the kind of films you would like to make. Make a research about them, understand their background, impress them with your knowledge and get the money you need to produce your next picture. Be kind and smart! Do not get into elaborate plot explanations!
She even spoke us about how to find new materials for projects and how they produce ideas from books, articles and paintings.
When working with first time filmmakers, she emphasized the significance of a strong short film. A well done short film may not lead you to go to shoot a feature yet it has a key factor to promote yourself as a first time filmmaker. In order to promote yourself as a filmmaker, an image book instead of a screenplay is very effective to hunt the producers since it gives them a solid insight of what kind of visuality you are looking for!
"Nobody's going to read your script! I don't know you why would I?" told us. You really have to start from the bottom and make your way all the way to the top! It is a very complex profession which requires full time commitment and consistency! She ironically told us that when looking at first time filmmakers, she checks whether the director has a long term relationship or not? It is a very effective way to understand whether the person is able to commit himself or herself three or four years for a project to be done and finalised!
"Do you like the process?" a student asks, "No, but I like the films being done!"
For her, the task of a producer is to keep the balance between the director who protects a vision and financier who protects his money. Todd Solondz, before making Happiness, lost most of his budget because Rosanna Arquette was unable to be a part of the film yet Solondz worked very hard to protect his vision and make the film he wanted to make with his choice of cast!
What kind of films you would like to make? It is the most important question before meeting a sale agent! What is the tone? Is it a film that has redemptive qualities or an uplifting movie? Or make the world a better place? Without these answers, it is impossible to produce a film. Since what you are trying to sell is about communication. It is not about the product itself.
Execution Dependant is a term that I learned during these three day lectures. “Execution dependent” means that the best version of the movie is a hit, while a mediocre incarnation is worth vastly less. It’s not a diss. Most films that win Academy Awards are execution dependent, as are many blockbusters.
Yet when you think about most of the films she has been producing, all her films are execution dependant. The films directed by Todd Haynes could not be directed by someone else because it is a film that can only done by him not by someone else and that's what makes the film so special!
Before wrapping up the enty, let me share you some links that she shared with us. I also would like to say that I am very lucky since I was in a Todd Solondz lecture this April in Istanbul and it was a really good opportunity to meet with Christine in Helsinki...




25 Temmuz 2010 Pazar

Vimeo Page

I have decided to use my Vimeo account to share some of the stuff that I did from 2007, so if you want to check it out, here's the link!

By the way, have you ever had what they call a writer's block! Well it seems to me that I have had it in my whole life. Today I was thinking about myself of four years ago and I have realized that I still have the same problems today. Which is, trying to do something so desperately but not to be able to find a subject or a voice or to come up with a story or I don't know what they call. Well I have red and listen to a lot of people and I just couldn't find any solution. Well if you have any advice, I would be really happy to hear your thoughts.

10 Temmuz 2010 Cumartesi

Personal Website!

Hi! I organized some of the stuff that I have been working on throughout the winter and decided to share them with you through my website.
Click here to see my website.

9 Temmuz 2010 Cuma

Learning and Teaching

Riding down an elevator I observed two young fellows, both with guitars in identical cases. One fellow was about 21 and in a hog helmet; the other was slightly balding, about 31, with blond hair and beard, and obviously the teacher. I couldn't make out whether he was the teacher of the intricacies of the motorbike they had parked outside, or of the guitar. At any rate, he said to his companion: "I will teach you how to play it."
The other boy said, "No. Nuh-uh."
The older one said, "Why don't you want me to teach you? You are going to have to learn it. Why don't you let me teach it to you? I'll take fifteen minutes."
The younger boy said, "No, look, well, maybe - " And he stalled and stalled and stalled until the elevator got to the ground floor and the door opened.
It struck me that maybe those in the upper five to ten percent of their classes are there because they enjoy the exhibition of themselves learning something, while the majority are embarrassed at showing that they have learned something in front of other people. the volunteer in the classroom is probably an exhibitionist. Why is it that so many of the men of brilliant scientific or scholarly achievement were so often last in their classes, so seldom one of the top five?
I think the group system of learning is perhaps no longer an acceptable or functioning method.
Learning is finding out what you already know.
Doing is demonstrating that you know it.
Teaching is reminding others that they know it just as well as you.
We are all learners, doers, teacher.
Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.
You teach best what you most need to learn.
Live never to be ashamed when something you do or say is published around the world - even if what is published is not true.
"There is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from."
-Snoopy the Dog
Open any book and read what's there: you'll find your problems. Hold a problem in your mind. Open a book.
Don't turn away from possible futures before you're quite certain you have nothing to learn from them. You're free to choose another (different) future, another past.
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
You will find a helping hand at the end of your arm.
Anyone worth knowing is also a little odd.


Nicholas Ray - I Was Interrupted - 6, 7.

22 Şubat 2010 Pazartesi

Ozan Adam on The Auteurs!

I am very happy to find out that my teacher's film (from Bilgi University) can be viewed on The Auteurs. Ozan Adam is actually an experimental filmmaker and I believe "The Two Names of a Testimony About the Execution of a Happening and a Suitcase Full of Broken Records" is a wonderful piece.
Here's the link.

28 Ocak 2010 Perşembe

Film Noir

I have a great desire to write more about Almodóvar these days, as I loved his last film "Broken Embraces", for me it was a perfect mixture of melodrama, film noir and Pop Art. And I love every one of them. As I understood from his interviews, he is a director who repeatedly sets his stories on his memoir and souvenirs and tries to borrow from everywhere that he adores and his films are the melting pots of his own dreams, fears and interpretations.
There is always one single fact in film noir. The existence of a dangerous woman. For me, today, was "Volver" day and I don't seem to recall a better composition (see above) to describe what film noir is in any of the films that I have seen before. The breasts of the beautiful actress Penelope Cruz seem perfectly the right spot for the audience to look at but on the left side of the composition, we see Penelope's hands washing a knife. But we are not aware of it since we are stuck to these two beautiful breasts and we ignore completely the dangerous side of the character. If you have already seen the film, you will know what comes in the next scene, and will understand what I am talking about.
Douglas Sirk is considered to be the master of melodramas especially the films that he did between the years 52 to 56. Today, very few melodramas are shot but from time to time, what I would call great film directors revisit the genre. Almodóvar is one of them. Todd Haynes also explored the genre in 2002 with "Far From Heaven" heavily influenced by Sirk's "All That Heaven Allows" and of course Sidney Lumet's films can be considered to be a melodrama. I was very surprised when I found out that Lumet considered "Silence of the Lamps" one of the great melodramatic films of all time because he said there is nothing more melodramatic than a man eating human flesh. Now, that's a definition we can not find in any of the books I think!
But what makes Almodóvar's melodramas so unique is his use of vivid colors especially red heavily borrowed from Pop Art.

27 Ocak 2010 Çarşamba

You Are Boring!

Now, this is something that I wouldn't like to receive from my producer or actually from anybody else! It seems to me that Weinstein and Errol Morris had difficulties promoting their films in 1988 "The Thin Blue Line" because Morris was such a bad PR!
And this letter is Weinstein's reaction to Morris!

25 Ocak 2010 Pazartesi

Some Inspirations

I have decided to share some of things that inspired me and I was thinking of using them in my own short film which I intend to shoot in the spring. I was fascinated by lighting, colors, composition or technique.

It is not easy to understand the shot because of the titles but it is a shot of the road seen from inside the car. On the rear window, we see the reflection of Humphrey Bogart driving. It is a close up of his face.
I thought about reproducing this shot in a way that I would shoot the road and the close up of the reflection separately and I would combine them together in the editing software. I think that would create a sort of a different surreal feeling, a combination of different shots coming together to create a linear whole within the composition. And by doing it with very clear, sharp and colorful image by using an HD camera, it will possess an absurd look. But I am not really sure how it is going to end up!
I also like a composition to have layers and hierarchy within it. I believe without those, it doesn't mean anything.

This is a shot from Almodóvar's film, I love the way he plays with color. Red always signals the victim but in this particular shot, it is the telephone. The director, here, probably refers to the character who is going to call, we don't see him, but he is the Fabula. Yet without showing that character, Almodóvar points out that he is the victim. It is very clever.
In his last film, the color red plays a major role in the film. Red presents the hierarchy between the characters and changes all the time by their power, love, lust or misery.
My favorite scene from Broken Embraces can be viewed here.

The way Almodóvar chooses to use elements of pop culture fascinates me. I decided I have to combine my own work with pop references and one of the magazine that is very important for me is "Les Cahiers du Cinéma". That magazine was very important for the foundation of the New Wave French filmmakers and it is still a very important film magazine for world cinema. I don't know how am I going to use it but I just want to combine it with a very self reflexive way!

15 Ocak 2010 Cuma

Studying Cinema

David Bordwell defines film criticism and film studies in his article. I still can't decide whether I am on a path to film studies according to what I am doing, reading, watching or am I belonging to a film fan subculture (Fans are also highly evaluative in their talk (“Wasn’t the lightsabre duel cool?”) or someone who wants to produce films.
Yeah, it seems like I am quite lost, no?
Here's the link.
And, hey, I just want to add one more thing. Eric Rohmer recently died and Fatih Ozguven wrote a wonderful article about it. Ozguven was my teacher during my film studies in Bilgi University and he was the only one who recommended me that I have to see Rohmer films as much as I can.
Here's the link.
And what I though about Rohmer was in the 60's and 70's, filmmakers were also film writers and film critiques. Today, it seems to me that very few people who practice filmmaking write about films comparing to the New Wave directors like Truffaut, Godard or Rohmer. Today, film practice and film studies seems quite broke away with each other.

14 Ocak 2010 Perşembe

Godard & Allen

I just found a conversation between legendary filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Woody Allen. Godard asks Woody his relationship with cinematographers and this is what Woody feels about Gordon Willis's style which I find very close to what I like and what I expect. Let the shots tell the story!
Well, Gordon is a very American style cameraman. He is very comfortable with a very clean American style. He feels most at home when the shots are spacious not concentrating on the individual but concentrating on the whole composition of the room rather than individual. And he feels very much at home with cutting, with a simple not too much movement, simple cutting and telling the story in cuts.
The interview is here.

13 Ocak 2010 Çarşamba

Some Works!

I have been working and editing for Lanfranco Aceti since September and here are some of the works we have just finished!
Some of them are edited by myself, some of them were already finished works so I had to re-transfer and re-master but for a few, I also did some shootings that were missing in the videos and it was cool!
Here's the link.

Nana Fait de la Philosophie Sans le Savoir

10 Ocak 2010 Pazar


Wachowski Brothers first film is a film noir inspired by the films of Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock. The film was shot in color although their use of color in set design, costumes, make up and props is so monochromatic that makes the film more black and white than any other film that was shot in the 40's and 50's. As can be seen above, the color black and white were the dominant palettes of the film.
An interview from 1998 can be found here.
I hope to write more about this film in the future because I believe the film's use of color, composition, transcendental style makes it so powerful that one has to study to understand the medium. Wachowski's film noir based on a relationship of a lesbian couple led to reevaluate the film noir style in the 90's.

Through Hockney's Eyes

Are we in danger of forgetting how to look properly at the world around us? David Hockney thinks so!
Here's the link.

9 Ocak 2010 Cumartesi

11 Years

"The Matrix" was released 11 years ago in 1999. I was 14. I saw the film for the first time in a movie theater in Izmir "Karaca" and the minute I got our of the movie theater I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker.
Morpheus believes in Neo. He thinks he is the One and will be their savior. The whole story is based on the idea if he is really the One. The Oracle says that he isn't but maybe in another life. She says someone will die and that Neo has to make a choice. Neo sacrifices himself for Morpheus because he believes he is not the One and Morpheus is more important than him. He saves Morpheus and then is killed by the Agents.
But somehow, he is resurrected. He gets up and stops the bullets. He becomes the "One". If he wasn't killed, he wouldn't be the "One".
Sometimes, all it takes to understand our mission in our lives is a change. A change that will makes us aware what we want and what we desire. Neo had to die to become the "One" without that he was just a normal person.
Sometimes we do mistakes. What I learn from my mistake is actually myself. It reminds me what I love and who I care.

3 Ocak 2010 Pazar

Interview with Stanley Kubrick

I just found an interview with Stanley Kubrick conducted by Jeremy Bernstein in November 27, 1966. Kubrick never liked interviews therefore we have so few with him. This one is quite interesting. In 1966, Kubrick had just finished Dr. Strangelove and was working for his new feature, an adaptation from an Arthur C. Clark novel, A Space Odyssey: 2001.
Near the end of the interview, he discusses director's relationship with editing:
With the exception of a few directors, like David Lean and, well let’s not say who, but with the exception of a few directors, most people have their film edited by film editors as they go along. And then, when the film is done, they look at the film and dictate some notes about it and the film editor tries to do what they say and then maybe they look at it again and they do it again. But basically it’s like trying to, say, redesign a city by driving through it in a car, you know. You can notice a few things and say, you know, “put that traffic light in the middle of the street” or “those buildings over there look kind of shabby” or something, but if you really want to do it right, you must do it yourself, you know, piece by piece. So, I think by now I have enough, sort of, ability to imagine the way a scene will come out so that I can tell without editing the material if I have enough film coverage and, you know, what I can do with it, and then I edit the film with the editor myself when the film is… when I’m all finished.

I would also like to mention a wonderful book about Stanley Kubrick "Eyes Wide Open" written by Frederic Raphael who wrote the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut. The book is about his collaboration with the director while working on the screenplay in the early 90's. It was just published after the death of Kubrick and the release of the film in 1999. However Kubrick family set against the book because it was published without their permission and the family accused him for not having respect for privacy and writing a memoir on Kubrick with inaccurate information.
After a very long search, a friend of mine found the book for me in New York and gave it to me.
Although I am not sure about the accuracy of information written in the book, I just love this piece of dialog.

S.K.: I don't know. We can talk about that. We'll have to. Do you want to work on it or not?
F.R.: Of course I do. I was afraid it might be science fiction.
S.K.: Don't you like science fiction?
F.R.: I never read it. I never feel remotely interested in people who are going to be alive three centuries after I'm dead, do you?
S.K.: I don't know about people. Situations, yes!