İdil Ergün gives us her definition of film and video and discusses her foray into the world of video,
including a short film project that is on the horizon.
Do you consider yourself a filmmaker? The word filmmaker has changed in its definition…
Not just yet. I don’t think I will consider myself a filmmaker until I shoot an independent film. I have worked on the set of short films, but haven’t shot one of my own yet. For the time being I consider myself more of a maker of videos. But (!) my primary plan for this year is to shoot a short film. I will take some time off this summer to write a script.
But yes, I think with the birth of the Internet, not just filmmaking, but the definition of several professions have changed. Before, film was only watched on TV or at the cinema. But now anyone with a camera and a will to do it, can shoot a film and share it online. And with the development of social media, many brands are promoting themselves not just with commercials but viral videos and ‘short films.’ People love stories. Rather than explaining how good your product is, adding a narrative is much more appealing. So I guess with the demand of alternate types of film, the definition of a filmmaker has expanded. And access to information is a finger away. I went to a film course in London Film School, but apart from that I am self-taught.
How did it all start?
As a 7-8 year old, I initially wanted to become a comedian. Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy were my idols (I know…). But then my elder sister said she wanted to become a film director, which sounded so much cooler. And yes, that’s how the seed was planted. But it wasn’t until I was 33 that I actually took a step to making it happen. I actually studied Archaeology and Art History and after graduating worked in several art institutions and galleries for eight years. But I was always playing around, making experimental videos on my own (only showing them to my friends). Then one day I quit and ran off to London to the film course I mentioned. I thought, it’s now or never. Making a fresh start at a different city also helped. And after finishing all my saved up money, I returned back to Istanbul. My kick-start was making two videos for my friend’s design brand. I was extremely nervous when they came out. But to my luck, I got great feedback and was approached by people to collaborate on other video projects. And it was all a momentum of chain reaction after that.
How do you choose your projects? Who are you collaborating with at the moment?
Up until now my projects have generally chosen me. I think I prefer it when someone comes up to me and says they would like to work with me. Because this means they’ve seen my work and have a similar understanding. And since they appreciate your previous work, they give you more freedom and are open to alternative suggestions. By choice, I tend to work more with the art and design scene, but I am open to work with anyone. A clash of different approaches can sometimes lead to unexpectedly wonderful results! Right now I am working on a series of artist talks for an art gallery.
Which period of film are you influenced by?
Visually, I’ve always felt close to film noir aesthetics. I love shadow play and elements of a bit of tension or mystery. And I’m a strong believer of ‘nothing is as it seems.’ So in some strange way, I find it more genuine when there are less outlines and definitions of people and situations. I guess it’s open to discussion whether Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa can be directly associated with noir, but I love their cinematography. In literature, I’m always fascinated with books about dystopian/utopian worlds, so not surprisingly I enjoy science fiction noir films as well. Also, Michael Haneke’s films almost always have a deep impact on me.
Are your films based on personal experience? Are they a representation of youth identity that we are seeing in Istanbul today?
Well I think it’s quite difficult to magically cut yourself off from personal experience while executing anything. It will sound very cliché, but I think every project I work on, even the most irrelevant one has a bit of me in it. But if you mean to ask plot wise, I think my short film will have personal traces in it. I don’t think I can call myself ‘youth’ anymore, or say that I will represent any specific identity. But I do hope that people will find elements they will relate to.