He is the writer and director of one of the most popular viral channels in Turkey, called ‘Nedir?’. Creating a great wide audience through his videos, Orçun Baş talks to us about ‘that film’ he always wanted to make and his love for Kadıköy.

If you compare it to last year, what has changed in your life?

More followers and less time… With the growth of our audience, I now need to work more, but work is so busy that my chances of reading and researching have decreased.

It’s not common for a project in Turkey to grab attention and to keep being popular after it reaches a peak. How did ‘Nedir?’ differentiate itself from the likes of it?

‘Nedir?’ follows popular culture and is simple. It addresses different age groups. It uses the power of satire and implication. I guess that it why it got this much attention.

Is your work easier or more difficult after reaching a certain mass of followers?

The easy part is that any work you do can reach a certain amount of audience even without promotion Actually this is also the difficult part. To satisfy 10 thousand people and 200 thousand people are not the same thing.

How does it feel to have some of the most famous comedians like Cem Yılmaz, Okan Bayülgen, and Beyaz openly say that they like your work? To be featured in your videos?

These names are the ones I care about the most in the media and the entertainment industry. Of course, to be praised by them is very special. We watched them for years, they know the job better than we do. Getting their praise made me think that we weren’t doing a bad job. You cannot produce without motivation, they have been the biggest source.

You completed your education in another field but you had a camera in your hand from an early age. When and how did you realize that you were going to become a director?

During university years, I was trying to edit any image I had. As soon as I graduated I started to work on short films. I thought I had things to tell but I had no idea how to do it.

I began to work as a promotion director. But I wanted more. From there I began working on a television show, then on short films. In the end, as I was thinking of getting into feature length movies, I chose internet videos.

“There is a film I want to shoot. Actually the only thing I want to do in life is to make that film. When I accomplish it, I can die happily.”

What are some of your first amateur works?

We started to shoot short horror films in university. They were really bad, luckily no one has them other than me.

The field you work in has a lot competitors. Can you give some ‘survival advice’ for those who are interested in this field?

It may sound like a cliché but the more effort you put, the more success you get out of it. Are there exaples that support the opposit eof this situation? A lot… Unfortunately… But to be permanent
you need to put a lot of effort, a lot of effort.

Your product can seem very valuable to you, other people also make you feel that. But other than exceptions, the value of your work is determined by time. Time only protects the valuable ones.

You shot two short films. Are you going to shoot other short or feature films? Is ‘that film’ you definitely want to shoot one day?

Short film is not for me. In the short films that I’ve made I haven’t achieved what I wanted to due to the lack of time or money. But I am happy to have done both.

There is a film I want to shoot. Actually the only thing I want to do in life is to make that film. When I accomplish it, I can die happily. Right now I’m 35 years old, I could shoot that film when I’m 60 or 80… But my deadline as of now is my 40th. This film will look for the answer to ‘what happened in this country and who went through what’ from 20’s until today.

Do you have time to work on this film? Or do your dreams get crushed under the speed of everyday life?

Unfortunately my workload makes it impossible for extra work right now. I love to spend leisure time. İ don’t mean reading a book, or watching a film. Going somewhere and sitting there for a long time, that’s how I got into timelapse jobs actually. It’s like fishing for me… But I cannot find time for that either.

What do you do when you’re blocked as you work; are talking to others, listening to loud music etc. useful?

I immediately start to eat something; sweet, salty, whatever I find.. I guess that’s why I constantly lose and gain weight. Also I listen to loud metal or rock music. A ‘Tornado of Souls’ is also always good for me.

Do you have time to work on this film? Or do your dreams get crushed under the speed of everyday life?

Unfortunately my workload makes it impossible for extra work right now. I love to spend leisure time. İ don’t mean reading a book, or watching a film. Going somewhere and sitting there for a long time, that’s how I got into timelapse jobs actually. It’s like fishing for me… But I cannot find time for that either.

What do you do when you’re blocked as you work; are talking to others, listening to loud music etc. useful?

I immediately start to eat something; sweet, salty, whatever I find.. I guess that’s why I constantly lose and gain weight. Also I listen to loud metal or rock music. A ‘Tornado of Souls’ is also always good for me.

What, who do you get inspired by?

There are so many names in the history of Republic that I get inspired from: Halet Çambel, Sabahattin Ali, Afife Jale, Nâzım Hikmet, Attila İlhan, Sakallı Celal, Vecihi Hürkuş… To think about the fact that I feel the joys, melancholia and -stable- troubles of the same country with them give me strength.

Who do you find out to be creative these days?

Don’t see it as arrogance but there is not so many people that I find creative. Of course there are, but I don’t know about them. But everything -including what I do- is like an extension of something else. Back in the day in some places great humor, great films, great books were done. Seems to me as if what’s left behind is just extensions of those.

How did you take an interest in Kadıköy?

I read a book about Kadıköy by Anais Martin Magaryan, whom I later became good friends with. I was very intrigued with the information in that book. I was born in Kadıköy, and I live here, but I’ve never thought of its history and its inhabitants. When one thinks of Istanbul, the European Side comes to mind. But Kadıköy is a town which protected its identity much better. Given that a lot of people I love and care has passed through here; for example Afife Jale performed on stage for the first time here, Nâzım Hikmet spent his last day here before he fled abroad, Sabahattin Ali stayed here, Münir Nurettin Selçuk, Deniz Kızı Eftelya gave concerts here, these make Kadıköy exclusive for me.

How would you describe your feelings when you come back to Kadıköy after staying away for a long time, for example returning from a long trip?

According to Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar, years ago Ahmet Haşim uttered exactly what I think about this: “When I’m on the Kadıköy ferry, I feel relieved as if I wore my slippers and my pijamas.”

 

“Back in the day in some places great humor, great films, great books were done. Seems to me as if what’s left behind is just extensions of those.”

For someone who has never been, and who will most likely never visit, how would you describe this town and its inhabitants with a few sentences?

Cat-köy, rock-köy, old-köy, Atatürk-köy, left-köy, modern-
köy…

What are the places to see for first time visitors of Kadıköy?

There is Aya Ekaterini Ayazma (holy spring) in Koço Restaurant in Moda (it used to be a famous restaurant, it still has the same name but I don’t think the old one looked like the new one) Old Kadıköy inhabitants know about this place and visit it from time to time. However, here you should be careful of what you wish for, according to a legend Ekaterini could not get back together her lover. Baylan, Şekerci Cafer Erol and of course Beyaz Fırın… They all have their characteristic tastes. Nâzım Hikmet Kültür Merkezi Kadıköy (Cultural Center) is a spacious place to drink tea, coffee and converse. Kalkedon Restaurants of the municipality in Moda, Kalamış and Fenerbahçe are also nice places. The most peaceful place for me in Kadıköy is Fenerbahçe Parkı.

How will your Kadıköy project be?

First I thought of making a documentary but since this place constantly changes, I turned my project into a website. I bought kadikoyu.com. I almost finished the website but I could not attend to it because of my work, I realized later even the site was shut down. I will relaunch it as soon as possible.

How are you? I guess this is a question we ask often, so it’s answered nonchalantly. Now that’s why as the last question I want to ask in its real meaning; how are you today, these days?

I am tired. The events in the country are happening so fast it makes you dizzy and I can only catch a few of them. Despite all, my only consolation is to still be able to feel.