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! http://www.inscript.lt/workshop/
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!
10 December 2015 – We have picture lock on ‘Weekend’! Next step is colour correction and sound design!
17 October 2015 – A further five minutes chopped away. ‘Weekend’ is approaching!
20 September 2015 – So the real first cut is done and the film is just below 30 mins. A real joy to see it all come together finally.
18 July 2015 – First assembly of the film turns out to be 42 minutes! This will be a challenge indeed!
12 July 2015 – After 7 very long days, it’s a wrap on my film ‘Haftasonu’ (Weekend)! Thanks to an amazing and dedicated cast and crew!
5 June 2015 – So after months of writing and re-writing, the script I have been working on for 5 years is finally ready to become a reality! In a month we start shooting ‘Haftasonu’ (Weekend) in Cyprus!
Following his father’s death, Hasan returns to Cyprus after many years. As he spends time in his childhood village with his grieving mother and childhood girlfriend, the inner struggle with his identity and the challenge of being in a traditionalist community resurfaces. The pressure to attend the funeral pushes Hasan to confront his past and to search for reconciliation, not only with his family and home but also with himself. Click here to watch a trailer for the film.
6th International Short Film Festival of Cyprus – Honorary Distinction for Best Actor Izel Seylani
14th Mediterranean Short Film Festival of Tangier (Morocco)
4th FerFilm International Film Festival (Kosovo)
A short film that explores the effects of conflict and war on a Turkish and Greek Cypriot child.
LEAVE – UNITED KINGDOM, 2012. WRITER & DIRECTOR.
Maria has accepted her lifestyle of abuse and domination by Juan. However, a shared moment with a small girl will lead her towards an opportunity for freedom. Click here to watch an extract.
Cyprus International Film Festival – Special Mention for Best Short Film
Ljubljana International Short Film Festival (Slovenia)
Fastnet Short Film Festival (Ireland)
Shqip International Short Film Festival (Kosovo)
Deep Fried Film Festival (Scotland)
Salento International Film Festival (Italy)
Cornwall Film Festival (United Kingdom)
Golden Island International Film Festival (Cyprus)
BIRD – SCOTLAND, 2012. ASSOCIATE PRODUCER.
Adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything…
BAFTA New Talent Award – Best Actor nomination for Lauren Grace Wilson (United Kingdom)
Raindance Film Festival – Best UK Short nomination (United Kingdom)
Encounters Short Film & Animation Film Festival (United Kingdom)
Glasgow International Film Festival (United Kingdom)
Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival (United Kingdom)
Flatpack Film Festival (United Kingdom)
Travelling Film Festival, Rennes (France)
MALI – LEBANON, 2012. CO-EDITOR.
Mali revolves around the life of Mali, a Sri-Lankan domestic worker, locked within the household of her Lebanese employer in Lebanon.
Cannes Short Film Corner (France)
The European Independent Film Festival (France)
Pentedattilo International Short Film Festival (Italy)
Leiden International Short Film Experience (The Netherlands)
International Film Festival for Peace, Inspiration & Equality (Indonesia)
Festival du monde Arabe du Court metrage (Morocco)
LANDESCAPES – UNITED KINGDOM, 2013. ASST. DIRECTOR & PRODUCER.
A young couple living in London try to maintain their relationship amongst the pressure of their families, unemployment and alienation. Peter wishes to marry Ayse in order to stop living in the shadow of his mother. Meanwhile Ayse struggles to come to terms with her existence as an outsider within the society. The two look for a way to escape their conflicts, unaware of each other.
Shqip International Short Film Festival (Kosovo) – Best Actress for Mengu Turk
Ankara International Film Festival (Turkey)
London Turkish Film Festival (United Kingdom)
18/10/15 – Autumn has arrived. Its golden aura, surrounding most of us with a feeling of being down and miserable. Not me. I never have been a season person, not one of those “I need the sun” addicts. I guess 16 years of Cyprus does that to a person. I’ve had my fair share, so I can deal with moody weather for the rest of my life.
What I’m trying to say is that, weather never has dictated my mood. Working three days a week and the other four being devoted to myself is what makes me feel good! Part-time bitches!
You see, I’m at the stage of editing my film. Just watching the progress of it getting shorter yet more concise, and therefore becoming a more coherent and watchable piece of work, is a gratifying experience. Only three months ago, I had just completed the production of ‘Weekend’. A small cast and crew worked endlessly to film my script to the best of their capabilities. It’s a very weird feeling to return back to normalcy after such an extreme schedule of concentration and long hours of production. But it’s done, it’s really really done.
still from ‘Weekend’
‘Weekend’ is a film that uses the cypriot landscape not just for aesthetics. It’s a land of tradition but also a land of ever-going change. Therefore I believe that international audiences, if given the opportunity, will feel certain familiar aspects to their own lives as well. But in the end, who knows if anyone will really connect with the story or appreciate the nuances that we hope they, the audience will get? Or maybe, there isn’t anything to get? Art is subjective, some will find meaning where others will find a blank canvas. Some will interpret a blank canvas according to their own life experience and fill it with philosophical and psychological subtext. I can only hope to reach hearts and minds that are willing to go along with me on this journey. Liking or disliking is secondary compared to connecting; once you connect, a discussion can be held on the film itself. That’s what I hope to achieve.
FATMA(60) is kneeled down, watering the vegetables with a
hose pipe. She turns her head as she realises someone is
standing behind her and sees Hasan looking at her. Fatma,
slightly hunched, stands up and wipes her wet hands on her
clothes before walking towards Hasan.
Welcome, my son.
Fatma holds Hasan’s cheeks and kisses them, then embraces him.
You really came.
I did mother.
*storyboards courtesy of Alasdair Bayne, storyboard artist on ‘Haftasonu’ (Weekend)
The car parks in front of the house. They both get out.
Hasan grabs his bag from the boot. They hug.
I’ll see you tomorrow then.
Hasan nods. Irfan gets in the car and drives off. Hasan
turns his head to the house in front of him. A white
walled bungalow with visible signs of restoration made
over the years with a small garden and patio at the front.
On the side, there is a small dirt path of the driveway
leading to the garage. Hasan lifts the squeaky handle of
the gate and enters.
11. EXT.HASAN’S HOUSE-PATIO.DAY
An old WOODEN CHAIR is on the concrete part of the patio.
Hasan looks at it, then walks past it towards the open
*storyboards courtesy of Alasdair Bayne, storyboard artist on ‘Haftasonu’ (Weekend)
26/10/14 – I have to say, I was hesitant at first. I had already did my fair share of travelling in the past 9 months and took some unpaid time off from my day job so I wasn’t jumping with joy with excitement when I received the email saying I had been accepted to attend a screenwriting workshop in Lithuania. It took me some time but in the end, I decided to go. ‘Weekend’, my short film written to be shot in Cyprus had been selected on the basis of its synopsis. As it’s been my passion project since I conceived of it back in 2010 and following failed attempts to shoot in 2012 and 2013, I didn’t have much to lose. Well besides the tuition fee.
I was very happy with the script which I had written 10 drafts of, the most I have ever written for any script. All I wanted to attempt to change was taking out the role of the children. The narrative had elements of abuse which I knew were gonna be hard to achieve on a island like Cyprus. It’s still a sore subject that pre-production came to an abrupt stop due to parents not wanting their children to be a part of a project that talks about this kind of a sensitive subject.
My acreditation card
So once I reached Lithuania and the small resort town of Druskininkai, it was hard to hear from the tutors that I would need to do a lot of more changes than just that – the core of the film would need a major overhaul. It took me a day or two before I got used to the idea that I would need to open my mind to the various feedback that I was getting. “Make it more personal” and “Write what you know” were the two points that were repeated many times. This can be hard especially when you are so passionate and protective of something you believe you know the best – your idea.
After day two, I managed to think of it as an alternative version and start writing a synopsis around this new universe. Same characters, similar structure but a more real and grounded approach. By the time I reached day five which was the final day, I had completely removed all the child roles and reshaped the core relationship of a father and son into something more relatable and definitely more Cypriot. It became the definitive version.
You see, I’ve never really made a proper film in Cyprus. Actually, I’ve only ever directed one short which I can kinda show to anyone else. But this one has always been very clear in my head. Not in the sense of narrative but in feeling and mood. I want to tell the story of the people of Cyprus. I want to talk about the generation gap, the different ideologies, the pressure of growing up and becoming an adult, not living in the shadow of someone and the plain fear of “where do I belong?”. Identity is the key word in this short script. “What does someone do if they can’t identify themselves in a familiar environment?”
Participants of the workshop
During our lifetime, we see change all around us. Friends appear and disappear, family members come and go, some die. Sometimes we don’t realise the changes around us and sometimes we hope that things will change. But there are moments when you know that no matter what happens, nothing will change. Some stains can’t be removed. Hmm, maybe I should put that on the poster? 🙂
So I returned to London, inspired and ready to get back to writing. I thank all the great writers and directors, both the tutors Jan Fleischer and Angeli Macfarlane and the organisers of InScript for creating this environment. You gave me hope at the most perfect time.
6/7/14 – The concept of returning back to familiarity has always fascinated me. Looking upon something which once ignited a certain feeling and remembering the visual, the smell, the texture and how it straight away brings you to a moment we experienced. It makes the past ever so more real – it proves it actually happened. Yet, nostalgia usually has a negative connotation in the sense that it evokes the limitations of humanity. We aren’t able to relive any moment in our lives a second time; each one is unique. As we grow older, those very special times in our lives become distant and hard to replicate.
Due to being half Cypriot, I have the compulsory ‘responsibility’ to complete my military service, serving my country as each male citizen has to do. All that bull aside, I’ve found myself again on the small island of Cyprus, which I lived between the age of 6 and 22. As I stepped into my bedroom, what struck me was the unlived nature of its current state. All the walls had been painted, posters taken down, furniture moved around, a new lamp shade, a new clock and some new wallpaper. My room also has a very interesting cupboard which was the main reason I had chosen this room long ago when I was 6 – a walk in cupboard. A small playground of my own. It had stored all my notebooks from my school years, my various Nintendo consoles, boardgames, puzzles… Luckily they are still there, stored away or in neat piles. The walls are bare though, showing no evidence that they were once covered in stickers of the series Baywatch or World Cup ’94. No photo exists of the interior of this cupboard, only what lives on in my memory and the memory of the ones who once entered it. Although it may not seem significant at all for a stranger, for me it meant the world.
Memories mean everything for me. I have always been one who thinks about the past and hopes to be able to grasp it one more time. Even as I enter the final years of my 20’s, each dream at night takes me back to a combination of my friends who I used to play with at primary, secondary or high school as we try to avoid the many disaster scenarios my brain likes to conjure. So when I found a section in my bedroom that hadn’t been painted over, a piece of my childhood and puberty that still existed, a giant smile on my face appeared, followed by laughter. This was indeed the same room I grew up in but just like me, had become mature, more understanding of how the world works and more in peace with himself.
You see, I used to write under the window sill. A word or two every couple of months or each year. The window sill itself isn’t very long at all so I had to be very precise on what I decided to write. It wasn’t going to be expressing deep thoughts about the world and it was certainly not going to be any mathematical equations that could rival the String Theory. It was going to be exactly what a stupid teenager who was fighting every single hormone in his body to act like a grown up was going to write. Love, computer games and football. The difference with me was that I always (and I still do) add the date and sometimes the time on.
An entry in 2003 (day and month not visible due to fresh coat of paint) states excitedly that “I’m growing up!!!” By entering the exact date, in my mind I have a proof that this exact moment took place and it will exist forever within this marking. It’s a weird fixation I have with the past and the time passing – even when I play scrabble, I tend to note down the date and time above the players name. It’s kinda emotional, as I now have papers with the time and date of when I played with my granddad who has now passed away.
Another entry under the window sill entered on 7 June 2003 at 23:42 simply says “I’ve gotten my final school report and school is over sob sob”. My high school years were over and I would never be a kid in that sort of environment ever again. Ever since primary school, my friends wished to grow up whilst I preferred for time to stand still. Maybe that’s why I included dates and times everywhere, wrote under the window sill and was affected so much by my now new looking bedroom. All of that is my childhood which I will never get back and seeing them disappear also is a bit sad. But then again, growing up is maybe just that right? Moving on with a load of memories.
ps. For a more quality look on how time passes or being lost in time, Rectify is quite an interesting tv series on this subject.
24/8/13 – I remember writing a version of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ around the age of 5 or 6 at school. I can’t entirely remember if it was a word for word copy of the original story or an iteration of my own mind. What I do remember is my mother telling me that I should be a writer, a storyteller. Somehow that must have stuck with me, as over the years I’ve written so many short stories, some which I have been lucky enough to see on a cinema screen, acted out by actors, with accompanying music and even credits. But I’ve also, like many pubescent younglings, dabbed my pen on an empty piece of paper and wrote some poems!
Poetry has entered my life from time to time, normally when I’m really down or super in love(or both). The ones from early teen years are embarassingly cheesy and very direct whilst the later ones, at least, have a richer vocabulary. I thought it would be fun to compare one of my earliest works written when I was around 11 with another I wrote in 2009, which to this day, I still like a lot. Keep in mind that the earlier poem was written in turkish so the one below is a translated version. I will do my best to keep the cheesiness intact.
If I could,
All my life,
I would look into your beautiful green eyes.
Listening to you,
is the biggest reason
for me to lose myself.
I’m alone without you,
I’m by myself without you,
I’m searching for you, where are you?
I was deeply in love, on the verge of obsession and knew that this person was the one for me and anyone else would not be worthy of even comparing to this platonic relationship. I did mention I was 11 right? Let’s try the next one, written at the age of 23.
One needs respect in times of dire
So long a soul can wait in despair
The Giving Hand has clenched it’s fist
To deprive, starve, kill…
One becomes inanimate and too weak to be
As the candle melts, so does the light to see
Neverending dilemma takes it’s toll
To chant, taunt, tease…
One flows throughout the shivering current
Heavy and timid as the wreath swirls
Source of fruition ends it’s journey
To hate, cry, die…
Never hopeful, ever so there
Blind eye opens, catching the lair
Seeking truth, although no share
Upon it shines, meet me there..
I remember writing the lyrics for this, kinda making up the words and then searching for similar ones I could use instead. It’s hard to be objective but I really like this poem. It sounds angry but beautiful at the same time. I guess it could work better as a song for Metallica, ala Fade to Black or Nothing Else Matters. I would like to think that anyway…