Interview with director Yağmur Kartal

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

Actually, this is a story based on my childhood. When I was 5 years old, when I went to the cinema for the first time, the movie I watched was the cartoon “The Lion King”. And I was literally fascinated by the cinema. Reflected light behind. Sounds coming from everywhere and filling the hall. Afterwards, I always wondered about the background of the cinema. When I was little, I loved to record everything I watched in my mind and explain it down to the smallest detail. In fact, I often made my family laugh as I animated the whole scene with gestures. I realized much later that this was a special talent and curiosity for me. I had visual memory, the ability to envision and convey things I was thinking. My curiosity for cinema has become my profession over time.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I definitely think. But the reason for this is not the academy’s ability to create artists. I believe that the academy will save time for a talented person and help him broaden his horizons. Although curiosity is an important element, sometimes it may not be enough on its own. Having masters around you involved in this business; people who know the history and technique of cinema; It allows you to notice your mistakes faster and improve faster. Of course, the possibilities offered to you without curiosity and talent do not mean much. I think curiosity, passion, talent and academic opportunities are vital for a filmmaker to grow.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

I think passion is the most important thing. If you are not passionate about something you want to tell, you cannot. This is the case with everything in life. If a person has that determination, he/she will surely achieve it. The difficulties or time spent are not important. If time or hassle is important, he/she doesn’t really want to do that thing.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

It was my first documentary experience. I learned that documentary film is a very difficult process. It took me about 5 years to finish the movie. Documentary film contains many variables, especially when it comes to a person’s life. It is necessary to understand that person correctly. This is a process in itself. Then you need to add your own artistic creativity to the film. And finally, you need to create a flow by balancing what is told to the film and your own artistic concern. While determining this flow, it is necessary to elaborate the film like a fictional film, but not detach from the context of the subject being told. In this sense, I can say that it is no different from writing a thesis. During this period, I learned that a documentary film has a lot of variables and requires time.

  • How do you find or generate ideas for documentaries or is it a different process for every project?

It was my first documentary, but I believe that in order to embark on such an adventure, one must first find a subject that they are really curious about or that they want to tell. It is not clear when it will appear in this, what and when a documentary filmmaker will affect heartily.

  • Can you describe your approach to writing treatments?

Actually, my approach is primarily to announce the naive story of little known toymakers like Sabahattin Parlar. Making people feel that world. It was to touch people’s hearts.

  • Do you ever use the camera yourself?

Of course. I generally used the second camera, especially in the shooting of this movie. I like to mingle with the camera while filming. Even if I do not take it in my hand, I am constantly involved in the frame. Actually, this depends on your harmony with the cinematographer, but since I have teammates with whom I get along well, I didn’t have much trouble in this regard.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Hmm, this is actually a question that can vary by person. If you are an independent filmmaker like me, I guess you are more interested in how much of the emotion you want to convey to the audience. I am more curious about the audience’s approach than anxiety. Because our experiences and views on life are very different. Everyone who watches can make something very different from the movie they watch or create an unpredictable connection. These are small important details. I love exploring them.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

First of all, festivals are an important value for filmmakers. After a director has worked hard to make his movie, his greatest desire is to bring him to the audience. Every person who watches the movie that came out after 5 years of labor like me is the gift of all that labor. Festivals give this gift to filmmakers. For example, a child in a far corner of the world is watching your movie at that  moment. There is no greater happiness than this. A festival that recorded the screening of a movie I made in 2017 in Toronto shared that video and audience comments with me. They had made me walk around with a big smile on my face all week. I think film festivals are instrumental in reaching each other, getting to know each other, listening to each other’s stories. For example, I started following many different filmmakers thanks to Short to The Point. I looked at their movies. This is a very good thing, very valuable.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I am someone who likes to try innovations. In this respect, it is not possible for me to give a traditional answer. Of course, I do not believe that narration has some rules. However, the cinema industry is in constant development and movement. We need to follow this, blend the new and the old and constantly nurture and improve ourselves. By looking at all of these, we need to reveal our own unique style. If we don’t, we’ll look like identical devices that came out of the factory. Possibilities should not dull us. And I hope it doesn’t dull the cinema.