Author: Talat Gokdemir

My Top-10 of 2017

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A strong quality of mainstream, independent and auteur works made 2017 a great year for film and television! As I spent a lot of time in the cinema, as well as consuming an unhealthy amount of television, I decided to put together my Top-10 of 2017 that contains both visual mediums. Looking through my choices below, it puts a smile on my face to see a common theme that binds many: Gender/race representation and masculinity.

First of all, my list of Runners up in no particular order:


  • The Shape of Water: A magical and surprisingly adult fairytale, that is touching, gory, sexy and scary all at the same time!
  • The Wound: A coming-of-age story from rural South Africa that speaks a lot about the traditionalist community, sexuality and the frustration that seeps from within.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: The best comedy of the year and also one of the best from the superhero genre in a long while.
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer: Pure original in the way it depicts the darkness within each individual and the wider society. Riveting.


  • Menashe: A humble, sweet and emotional tale of a father and son in a small hasidic community, that in a way, functions as a docu-drama.
  • The Venerable W: A horrifying insight into the world of hate preaching that has caused thousands to flee their lands in Myanmar.
  • Nathan for You Season 4: There is nothing like it on television right now, and it’s a must watch for anyone that loves strange and awkward humour. It also has one of the most surprising last episodes of any series, ever.

Before the best, I have to mention the most two disappointments: Sadly, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. 20 minutes of good scenes amongst 2 hours of absolute average TV episode filler was not what I expected at all. The worst of the year for me was Brawl in Cell Block 99. The most overrated film by far, it felt like watching an unfinished cut. An utter bore with no pace, no conflict and worst of all, it used the excuse of being an ode to exploitation films by just being utter lazy in its execution. 

With that out the way, time for my Top 10!


10- A Fantastic Woman: I would ideally remove the two superfluous fantasy sequences, but otherwise, it’s unique and daring. It has such a powerhouse performance by trans actress Daniela Vega, that it remains magnifying from beginning to end.

9- Strong Island: A devastating and heart breaking documentary that analyses the death of the brother of the director. One of the many films on my list that deals with the racial divide and racism in the USA.

8- Makala: The human endurance is at the heart of this documentary set in Congo. So simple in its premise, it’s that simplicity that makes it utterly powerful.

7- Get Out: This film took me by surprise. It showed with such ease that you can be a mainstream release that’s funny and scary, but also deal with racism in a totally original way!

6- Call Me By Your Name = Despite lacking the depth of God’s Own Country, and disappointing in its exposition-filled finale, the film masterfully hits the emotional heights and dramatic cues. It’s brave and honest. The acting of Timothée Chalamet is out of this world.

5- Blade Runner 2049 = It’s a miracle that a sequel to Blade Runner can be this good. There are some lazy storytelling shortcuts during its running time, but who cares when the visuals, the sound, the music and the atmosphere is this hypnotising. A rare case of a sequel living up to the original.


4- God’s Own Country = Another great example of gay romance that really has hit its stride this year. Clearly the best love story of the year. It feels real and it earns it.

3- Better Call Saul Season 3 = The best television series out now, and at its best this season. There are so many iconic sequences that play out with no dialogue, the tension at times can be unbearable and the drama is heightened to its maximum. Who would have thought it could go head to head, and even excel the quality shown by Breaking Bad?

2- The Florida Project = No question or doubt, it’s the best film of the year. Out of all the films on this list, it’s the one that stuck with me the most and the one I would in a heartbeat go and watch again. It’s been a long time since I’ve witnessed childhood innocence portrayed with such nuance and such joy. The ending is also something special.

1- The Vietnam War = The 10 part series about this particular war is not only a detailed analysis of the American struggle, but an examination of humanity over the course of history and a look at the mistakes we make repeatedly. Despite the heavy subject matter, it was exhilarating on another level. The biggest praise I can give this series, is that it made me understand America and what makes it tick.


Whitewashing 101

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04/04/2017 – Until yesterday, it hadn’t crossed my mind that I would be writing about whitewashing. After a prod from a friend on Facebook, I realised how frustrated and desperate I was to talk to someone about this. The internet is noise pollution – bigotry and ignorance run amok. It can be really tough to hear your own thoughts and conscience most of the time. Which is where the danger lies.

The topic of whitewashing fits into the ongoing discourse on equality and ethics. But let’s keep it simple by using a Q&A structure. This is the only way I can get my thoughts across and make them as easy to comprehend as possible. As my interest is in film and cinema, I’m going to focus on whitewashing in this art form, but this can be seen in many other situations or industries as well.

QUESTION: What is the line between whitewashing and fiction? If fiction is imaginary, can’t we imagine a white person in any role?

We can.

QUESTION: So if we can imagine, why can’t we actually portray them on the big screen without being white shamed?

You can, but you shouldn’t.

QUESTION: Why not?

The cinema industry and our focus point, Hollywood, is built on pumping out expensive productions. It’s a business. It’s all about money. There are directors, writers and actors that work within this system that do care about art as a form but – this is a huge but – they are still working within the system and therefore, shape the way we think. Once you have the power to shape people’s minds, thoughts, imagination and social conscience, you automatically have the responsibility to be ‘responsible’.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

Let me elaborate. For years, races and nationalities of all kind have been part of Hollywood productions. Focusing on acting, we’ve seen everyone on the big screen, all colours, all religions, and all accents. How many of them have been the heroes though? To date, the Hollywood system that is all about churning out glorious and escapist entertainment, has utilised non-whites as cannon fodder and stereotypical shortcuts to further profit. They have the ability to promote their films on all media forms, therefore entering our lives on a daily basis. Once you have this amount of power, you have an ethical duty to yourself and to the people of the world to ensure a somewhat balance between what is on offer.

QUESTION: What balance is this you talk about?

Well, let’s start from the mainly white people we see on our screens. They kill the bad guys (usually non-white), save the world (mostly from non-whites), and get the girl (probably much younger than her saviour). This sends out a certain message to our synapses and psyche, that this is ‘right’ and ‘how things should be’. Imagine being subjected to this for over 100 years. It becomes the norm, we unconsciously accept it as normal.

It’s the same thing when females aren’t offered the same level of work as men or why we have stereotypical comic relief roles for certain nationalities with ‘funny’ accents. The more you are subjected, your perception of how the world operates shifts as well.

QUESTION: Okay, but they are pushing this agenda too much, to the extent that it’s everywhere. You can’t just make every famous character a female or every action hero an Asian.

You can.

QUESTION: You can’t! Can you?

Of course you can! We are all human beings, with two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth. Our main concern in life, for the majority of us, is to get a job, get married, have kids and ignore our mortality for as long as possible.

If we’ve had years and years of dominance of white characters, why can’t we now have the opposite? How else are we going to achieve equality if we don’t understand or emphasise with how much the other half has been oppressed, and removed from the ‘norm’? Of course the media will write controversial articles about white-shaming. They have also been under the illusion of Hollywood and mass media. We fear what we don’t know or don’t understand. In a world where we scroll easily past mass murder stories in Syria and Iraq, it’s no surprise that we get agitated when ethics and morality gets thrown in our face. We feel guilty. Our sense of truth is being questioned. The natural instinct is to fight back with what we know and believe in.


The norm versus the other

To promote and fight the allegations of whitewashing prior to the release of the US remake of ‘Ghost in the Shell’, there were street interviews with the Japanese public in Japan. They were shown footage of Scarlett Johansson kicking arse, and then asked if they believe she was a good choice.

QUESTION: Did they see it as whitewashing?

Nope. They actually liked her.

QUESTION: Then, what’s the big deal? If they can state this for an original Japanese production, why can’t we cast an American actress?

Remember how I mentioned that seeing white people (mainly men) on our screens, shapes the way we think and affects the way we perceive reality? Hollywood is a global phenomenon – it doesn’t only affect the US but has global implications. Its world view therefore is the aforementioned norm, we unconsciously accept it as normal.

So how can we expect the public of Japan to make an independent choice, without complying with years of external stimuli?

We can’t.

QUESTION: So… what then?

ANSWER: The only way to counter-balance years of work by a huge money-churning industry, is to start doing the opposite, to start demanding the opposite, and to start asking for more of the ‘other’. The ‘other’ being everything but the ‘norm’.

what if?

what if?

More opportunities have to be given to other nationalities, races, religions, and they should be our heroes and love interests. Females can also save the day and choose who they want to end up with. Yes, Scarlet Johansson is a great actress and she can pull off this role. But many other Asian actresses can as well! The same goes for Finn Jones and Iron Fist. Why not cast a non-white actor, and be part of change, a change that will play a small but important role in hopefully one day providing equal opportunities to everyone?

So, when you have the urge to complain ‘that’s white-shaming’ upon reading another media story about casting an Asian actor, stop and take a deep breath.

Ask yourself, ‘why not?’


Comments Off on 2017

24 October 2017 – ‘Weekend’ will be screened on television in Cyprus next month on 21 November! PIK-2 (CyBC) – 22:50 (20:50 UK time).

27 July 2017 – ‘Weekend’ will be screened at the May Fair Theatre in London on 1st October, as part of Cyprus Short Film Day. Details on the screening and Q&A to follow!

19 July 2017 – In collaboration with Eurochannel USA, ‘Weekend’ will be part of its 9th Short Films Tour and air in multiple countries on 15 September 2017. Thank you Eurochannel for this opportunity!

6 May 2017 – Another journey comes to an end! The full version of my short film ‘Haftasonu (Weekend’) is now online. The film can be watched on Facebook and Vimeo. Click away!

15 March 2017 – ‘Weekend’ will be screened on 22 March at the University of Nicosia, with other shorts from Cyprus that participated in the national competition section of ISFFC’s 6th edition. Screenings start at 21.00 and will be followed by a wine reception.

9 February 2017 – Until now, I never had the opportunity to see an idea of mine become a screenplay in the hands of another person. It’s very exciting indeed! Watch this space!

The 11 year old mature me

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30/09/16 – When I was 11, I remember receiving the best compliment a young boy could get. When this boy, who was extra thin, wore glasses and had braces on his teeth, heard this compliment, he knew he was doing something right. He automatically became better than any of the other boys of the neighbourhood. Different than any of the other boys from any other school. The compliment was simply this: “You are mature, unlike the others”. Coming from someone I liked (liked in that special way a boy likes a girl way out of his league), this meant the world!

Prior to that, while I was still in primary school, all my classmates wanted to be older, drive a car, ride a motorbike. But I clearly remember my preference of not to. Life was perfect, I was happy. I’m a kid. I won’t get these years back. Why change it? Mature thinking, right?

Then came the early 20’s. I was sure of my mature self, of my clearly defined character and of my ‘all-understanding’ personality. So it’s interesting that during my 20’s, I changed the most. I don’t mean one slowly evolving character change. I mean multiple variations over the course of 10 years, where I kept on thinking I’ve reached the ‘definite’ me. I’ve told friends “I now know who I am” on multiple occasions. What I haven’t apparently learned is that surprises are always around the corner and those surprises usually suck big time. Unexpected events shock your core and zap you back into perspective of how little you know yourself.

I guess being an adult and all, it’s normal at this stage for these changes to increase. You now have responsibilities, the future becomes unavoidable and the sway of the reproductive organ gains the power to temporarily blind you, and common sense simply takes unpaid leave. At age 30, the questions have now changed to “will I know myself?” and “Is there a definite me, and if so, when is it going to show up?”. To ramp up the philosophical debate, “Is there a need for a ‘definite’ self?”. Can’t we, constantly renew ourselves, adapting to each scenario, keeping it fresh as they say, living life one experience at a time?

Personally, I love a structure. I love a well-planned life style. I cherish being part of a team. I adore a duo working in unison with each other. As I analyse this defined structure which also defined me, I once again found myself at this seemingly-inevitable loop of change. Like an innocent, unwanted new born baby, I was at a doorstep of a stranger and scared of who was on the other side.

“Knock knock”
“Who’s there”

Lately, I’ve had the chance to think, a lot. Analysing and over-analysing structure and deconstructing the notion of ‘self’. Reading a book like ‘The Dice Man’ perfectly encapsulates the sad dilemma of how to live a life without soul-crushing structure. It makes me realise, as human beings, how fragile we actually are. And somehow, I ended up thinking about that compliment I received at age 11. “You are mature, unlike the others”. Was that the only time I was really, truly, mature? Who was I?



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13 December 2016 – ‘Haftasonu’ will be screened alongside all award-winning films of the most recent International Short Film Festival of Cyprus! The Market of the Old Town Hall of Nicosia in Cyprus will host this special event on 21 December 2016 from 6pm.

21 October 2016 – Great news! The main actor Izel Seylani in my film ‘Haftasonu’ has been awarded for his acting performance at the International Short Film Festival of Cyprus!

15 October 2016 – The 14th Mediterranean Short Film Festival of Tangier came to an end today; it was an amazing experience where I got the chance to meet many talented filmmakers and watch a diverse range of quality films! The memories won’t be forgotten! Click here to see some images from the festival.

15 August 2016 – ‘Haftasonu’ has been selected to be screened at the FerFilm International Film Festival in Kosovo. The festival will be taking place between 2-6 September 2016. Click here for more details on the festival.

11 August 2016 – ‘Brother’ has been accepted at the 13th Reykjavík International Film Festival! Congrats to my buddy and colleague Alasdair Bayne! The film will be screened as part of the ‘Icelandic Short Documentaries’ section of the festival, which will take place between 29 September – 9 October 2016. Read more about the festival here.

2 August 2016 – ‘Haftasonu’ is going to Morocco! My film has been selected for the 14th Mediterranean Short Film Festival of Tangier, taking place between 10-15 October 2016! Click here for more details on the festival.

29 July 2016 – My film ‘Haftasonu’ has been selected for participation in the upcoming International Short Film Festival of Cyprus 2016! Congrats to the whole cast and crew! The festival will take place between 15-21 October 2016! Click here for more details on the festival.

15 July 2016 – ‘Brother’, a short documentary directed by my close friend Alasdair Bayne is nearly complete! I was able to be a part of this beautiful piece of filmmaking as the Assistant Editor. Click here for Alasdair’s official website.

2 May 2016 – Another project that has been gestating for a long time is a book inspired by the story of Haftasonu (Weekend). Written by my good friend and Cypriot artist Gurkan Gokasan and titled ‘Golgedeki Notlar’ (which translates to ‘Notes Beneath the Shadow’), this book will contain letters, poems and other writings. To be released in Cyprus in June 2016. Click here for more details.

29 April 2016 – We had an enjoyable chat with Denise Phillips today on Bayrak Int. FM 105 about my film ‘Weekend’.

23 April 2016 – Today I had the opportunity to talk about ‘Weekend’ on Cypriot TV channel BRT-2! Many thanks to presenter Can Gazi!

14 April 2016 – We had a great ‘Cast, Crew & Supporters’ screening of Haftasonu (Weekend)! It was great to hear the positive comments from everyone! Click here to see some photos from the event!

25 February 2016 – Haftasonu (Weekend) is complete and had its first preview screening! Thanks for everyone who came and supported us. Such a great feeling to see another project successfully screened. Check out some of the photos from the evening by clicking here!

22 January 2016 – The trailer for ‘Weekend’ is now online! Click here to watch the trailer on Vimeo!

21 January 2016 – The first preview screening for ‘Weekend’ will be happening on Thursday 25 February 2016 at 7pm at the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre in London!

20 January 2016 – The Facebook page for ‘Weekend’ goes live! Click here to link to like and share!


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15 November 2012 – Watch the flashmob video production I was a part of!

15 November 2012 – ‘Leave’ can be watched right here, right now!

9 November 2012 – ‘Leave’ is screened at the Cornwall Film Festival! Probably the final one before the film goes online!

6 November 2012 – I am part of the team today shooting a flashmob on the Southbank for the Greek Tourist Office! Cold but fun!

5 November 2012 – Read the article about ‘Leave’ in Unsung Films written very kindly by Sofia Paftounou!

1 November 2012 – ‘Leave’ will go online on 15 November 2012! Links will follow!

26 October 2012 – I will be a guest on Cypriot television CYBC-2 and Pik SAT talking about my film ‘Leave’ this evening at 6pm. Joining me will be Georgia Christoforou, the composer on ‘Leave’.

22 October 2012 – ‘Leave’ is awarded ‘Special Mention for Best Short Film’ at the 7th Cyprus International Film Festival!

13 October 2012 – ‘landescapes’ (previously titled Home) is now complete! Directed by Damla Kirkali and produced by me, it tells the tale of young couple living in London trying to maintain their relationship amongst the pressure of their families, unemployment and alienation.

16 September 2012 – Watch ‘Bird’ at the Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival in the ‘Fictive Landscapes’ programme, 5pm on Friday 26th October in Hawick!

12 September 2012 – Check out ‘Leave’ at the Cornwall Film Festival, 8-11 November! Details of when and where the film will be screened will be available on the Festival website from October 17th 2012.

12 September 2012 – ‘Leave’ is screened for the Italian audience today in the ‘World in Short’ section at the Salento Int. Film Festival!

7 September 2012 – ‘Bird’ has been nominated for Best UK Short at Raindance Film Festival!

31 August 2012 – ‘Leave’ was screened at the Portobello Pop Up Cinema as part of the Portobello Film Festival!

13 August 2012 – Finally! A London screening for ‘Leave’ will take place on 31 August at the Portobello Pop Up Cinema, as part of the Portobello Film Festival!

30 July 2012 – The screening date of ‘Leave’ at the 7th Cyprus International Film Festival has been moved forward, new date is 14 October!

30 July 2012 – ‘Leave’ will kick off the ‘The World in Short’ section of the Salento Int. Film Festival on September 12! Check out the full schedule:

26 July 2012 – ‘Bird’ will be screened at the Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival in September! Congrats to Director Alasdair Bayne!

17 July 2012 – The screening date of ‘Leave’ at the 7th Cyprus International Film Festival has been announced as Saturday, 20 October! For more information:

7 July 2012 – ‘Leave’ is selected for the Deep Fried Film Festival in Scotland! The Festival will take place between the 11th and 18th of August! For more information:

1 July 2012 – The Shqip International Short Film Festival took place between the 25th and 30th of June! I had a great time in Kosovo and met many new filmmakers, overall a grand experience! For more details of my trip, check out my latest blog entry:

23 June 2012 – This website goes live!

21 June 2012 – ‘Leave’ is selected for the Salento International Film Festival in Italy! The festival will take place from the 9th to the 15th of September, 2012. For more information:

14 June 2012 ‘Balad al Thabab’, Kuwaiti singer Abdallah Al Rowaished’s music video is out alongside the Making Of video! Check them out at and

8 June 2012 – ‘Leave’ is selected for the 7th Cyprus International Film Festival! The festival will take place from the 6th to the 22nd of October, 2012. For more information:

31 May 2012 – I’ve watched the first rough cut of ‘Meztli’! First impression: Great stuff, can’t wait for the final version!

25 May 2012 – ‘Leave’ is screened at the Fastnet Short Film Festival in Cork, Ireland! For more information:

17-18 May 2012 – I was the Assistant Director on a two day shoot for Kuwaiti singer Abdallah Al Rowaished’s music video ‘Balad al Thabab’ ! Produced by Rotana Media Services, one of the largest media groups in the Middle East. Shot in London, Kent and Windsor. To be released mid June 2012.

16-26 May 2012 – ‘Mali’, a short drama I co-edited and which was directed by Elissa Ayoub, is screened at the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival!

5 May 2012 – ‘Leave’ is selected for the Shqip International Short Film Festival in Kosovo! The festival will take place from the 25th to the 30th of June, 2012. For more information:

14-16 April 2012 – ‘Meztli’ is succesfully shot over the course of three days in Mexico! Directed by Astrid Salas and Co-Produced by myself, ‘Meztli’ is an experimental short that blends the Mexican culture with elements of surrealism, fantasy and the moon. To be released mid August 2012.

31 March 2012 – I shoot the ‘Let’s Talk About Colour’ workshop organised by Mindfire! Check out the Mindfire Facebook page:

31 March 2012 – ‘Leave’ is selected for the Fastnet Short Film Festival in Ireland! The Festival will take place from the 24th to the 27th of May, 2012. For more information:

15 March 2012 – I was commissioned by Mindfire to film the Nordic Career Forum! The event was organised by the Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Danish Chamber of Commerce’s and was filmed at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel. For further information about Mindfire:

7 March 2012 – ‘Leave’ was screened at the Ljubljana International Short Film Festival! For further information:

18 February 2012 – ‘Leave’, a short drama written and directed by myself, has been selected for the Ljubljana International Short Film Festival! The Festival will take place from the 5th to the 7th of March, 2012. For more information:

10-11 February 2012 – ‘Bird’ is screened at the Glasgow Short Film Festival! I was the Executive Producer for the short drama which was directed by Alasdair Bayne. The film observes a young boy and a girl tackle the thin line between childhood and adolescence. For further information:

14-22 January 2012 – ‘Home(working title)’ is shot in 5 days! This short drama was directed by Damla Kirkali and produced by myself. It tells the story of a couple in cohabitation and their internal struggle to cope with both themselves and the outside world. To be be released Summer 2012.


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5 September 2013 – Mengu Turk, our actress in ‘landescapes’ has been awarded the Best Actress award in Kosovo at the Shqip International Short Film Festival!

4 September 2013 – Another screening of ‘Leave’, this time in Amsterdam! 19 September!

26 August 2013 – A screening of ‘Leave’ will take place on Wednesday 28 August 2013 at The Hideaway Bar, 114 Junction Road London, N19 5LB UK. Doors open 7pm, Films start 7:30pm. Entry is free!

25 July 2013 – Both ‘landescapes’ and ‘Meztli’ have been selected for the Shqip International Short Film Festival in Kosovo! After having a great experience there last year with ‘Leave’, having both films I produced selected again is great!

1 July 2013 – It’s a Wrap! Congrats to the cast and crew of ‘Kuyu’.

2 June 2013 – I’m a part of a short film which begins production today! The title of the film is ‘Kuyu’, which translates to ‘Well’. The production is taking place in Cyprus and I’m the AD! The film is directed by Ömer Yetkinel of InMotion Productions.

9 March 2013 – ‘landescapes’ will be screened at the Ankara Int. Film Festival on 20 March at 2pm!

1 March 2013 – Another film I produced in 2012 is now complete! ‘Meztli’, directed by Astrid Salas, is an experimental piece that I am really intrigued to share with festivals this year!

27 February 2013 – ‘landescapes’ has been selected for the Ankara International Film Festival in Turkey! The festival will take place between 14-24 March!

26 February 2013 – ‘landescapes’ screening tonight at Rio Cinema!

14 February 2013 – Congrats to Elissa Ayoub for getting accepted in to the European Independent Film Festival! I was also one of the editors on the film!

12 February 2013 – Come and watch our short film ‘landescapes’ on Tuesday 26 February at Rio Cinema in Dalston! Starting at 18.30!

2 February 2013 – Had a great screening of ‘Leave’ at Vibe Gallery yesterday, wasn’t expecting a crowd of nearly 100 to turn up! Many thanks to Vibe Shorts!

1 February 2013 – ‘Bird’ will be shown in the Scottish part of the Travelling Film Festival Rennes! Congrats to Ali Bayne once again!

16 January 2013 – ‘landescapes’, produced by myself and directed by Damla Kirkali has received its first acceptance at a film festival! Our short film has been selected for the 18th London Turkish Film Festival which will take place between 21 February and 3 March!

10 January 2013 – ‘Leave’ will be screened in Bermondsey as part of the monthly indie short film night hosted by Vibe Gallery on 1 February!


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9-11 October 2014 – I had a chance to experience some tense pitching at the Baltic pitching forum and also saw some great shorts at the Vilnius International Short Film Festival.

5-9 October 2014 – I attended the InScript workshop “Too short to die”, which is a training workshop for writer and directors. The workshop took place in Druskininkai, Lithuania.

15 September 2014 – Another screening for ‘Leave’ at the Golden Island International Film Festival in Cyprus which will take place in November!

2 September 2014 – Have been selected to workshop my script ‘Haftasonu’ (Weekend) in Lithuania next month! Maybe, just maybe it will evolve in to a version which is actually shootable in Cyprus this time!

5 August 2014 – During my trip to New York, I visited the Quickstop where ‘Clerks’ was shot! And also managed to do some background extra work in Season 4 of Comic Book Men!

28 June 2014 – Completed the first draft of my new script ‘The Girl with Wings’! Such a great feeling to be working on a brand new story!