Category Archives: Masterclass

Masterclass: MIKE FIGGIS

Mike Figgis & Esin Küçüktepepynar3

Last Tuesday I attended  the Masterclass by academy award nominated film director, writer and composer Mike Figgis moderated by Esin Küçüktepepınar at the Pera Museum Auditorium.

Being one of the first filmmakers to have stepped into digital filmmaking,  he discussed his thoughts and mentioned his love about digital cinema as well as sharing his experience in both U.K.  and Hollywood with us.

He also gave great tips about how to be a successful filmmaker and told interesting and amusing anecdotes about his filmmaking career.

Here are some of my favorite quotations by Mike Figgis from his masterclass:

“Bullshit is part of the filmmaking process.”

“If you have no social skills, you have to stop right now.”

“Cinema represents the perfect combination of different arts.”

“As long as the lens and the microphone is good, your film is good.”

“3 lights is a nightmare, so better to have one light. The window light is the best!”

Mike Figgis logolu

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Masterclass: PRIIT PÄRN

During the International Istanbul Film Festival I’ve attended the cinema class “Constructing the Story” which was given by Estonian master animator, graphic artist, caricaturist, illustrator Priit Pärn. He explained us the basic techniques for working with ideas and constructing the script, besides he has us showed his 2 short commercial films and “Life without Gabriella Ferri” which won lots of awards. He shared some  known and  unknown  informations about his film.  Here is the few  basic notes from his class:

“I’ve been drawing since i was a little kid. I graduated from the Department of Biology of Tartu University in 1970 and afterwards worked at the Botanical Garden of Tallinn as a plant ecologist.  I’ve been working on animation since 1976.  I didn’t study cinema but i’ve been teaching it for many years. I am the head of the Animation Department in Estonian Art Academy since 2006.

About “Life Without Gabriella Ferri”…

Why did i choose the name “Life Without Gabriella Ferri” for my movie? First of all, i thought it was a really nice name for a movie. May be many of you might not have heard the name of Gabriella Ferri. She is an Italian singer who passed away in 2004. Furthermore, as a creator,  this “without” word made me feel real free while i was making the movie.

The letters A and B we have seen in the movie are symbolizing a choice. Either A or B. While the little boy shows A+B to his father, he might refer his desire for his parents to stick together symbolically.

The characters in the movie are looking at the camera frequently and looking like  they are made of wood. It gives a strange impression which reflects the erotism to the audiences when they are playing with the knife. I am thankful to our sound editor for the annoying knife sound which has been heard frequently in the scene. This was really helpful for me to create the effect i wanted. The fish is being used for the symbol of erotism which is also the element for creating the play. The trio of  Fish-Knife-Music is reflecting the sad and deep feelings.”

(After one of the audiences was likening him to Andrei Tarkovsky’s style) “I don’t think i am likening to Tarkovsky’s style. Unlike me he has no sense of humor and  he is taking himself so serious. Besides i am the person who can laught at myself.  For instance if he shot my movie he wouldn’t use these hen and spider which i used. His child characters are also different. Our boy is a unique character. He is ugly, unattractive and he has plasters in his both hands. Hands are very important in this movie. I even have thought about giving the name “Hand” to my movie before I have decided “Gabriella”. This boy is representing the generation who has been raising with computer. They see but they don’t know how to touch. The reason he hits his head towards to wall is for taking his parent’s attention and getting locked himself in his room. Thereby he can be more free to log into porn sites on internet.”

I have told Mr. Pärn that  I have watched his 2 short movies some time ago which are “Time Out” and “1895” and i especially loved the black humor in “1895” which is telling a story about the history of the cinema with an  amazing and different way. I have found “Gabriella” too much  pessimistic and dark even  it is a very impressive movie. It might be only  me  but i still wanted to know if he had any explanations or spesific reason about it:

“I lost my ex wife at the same year that Gabriella Ferri passed away in 2004. I was very sad during that period. I guesss my mood is being anticipated in this movie. Yes this is a bit dark movie yet i don’t think it is pessimistic. I met with my current wife Olga by nice coincidence. We have decided to make this movie together. Since then we’ve been working and producing together and she is very supportive to me in every aspects.

The Relationship Between “Hammer – Nail – Screw” and A Story Development In Animation Movie

A hammer is a tool which is dominant but cruel and silly on the other hand. A nail is a tool which is tiny, passive but it attaches two woods together. Hammer is aware its power. Nail doesn’t have a big love for hammer but still they have to live together (Love & Hate Relationship). When it comes to a screw, we see a tool which has same mission with nail. But it is more sophisticated and educated tool by comparison to nail. Nail doesn’t like screw at all, screw finds nail arrogant. Although screw’s approach is negative to hammer, the attraction between them can not be obstructed. Screw finds their relationship ordinary. According to screw, it is more attractive situation when the hammer hit the screw…

All these relationship descriminations are here for exploring what’s going on in the possibilites arena. I haven’t created the story yet. I only know their structure and what they consist of. I will create the story with these datas.  I have to decide which one i will show firstly  in the movie. The hammer or the nail or  the screw or three of them together? Instead of showing the unhappiness of the hammer & nail couple’s in the beginnig,  i must show their good times together first and then their conflicts and bad times with their reasons.

One of  the main mistakes of the students who shot their short movies is that they have very good story but it has no end. Then suddenly very good ends come to their minds and  the story is already ruined  when they find the very best end for their stories.

Let’s say a film making process will take a year. Of course during in a year some improvise thoughts may pop up. But due to we are working in a studio, we have very limited opportunity for improvisation . The most creative procedure for us is the editing. Because unlike the other type of movies we are creating the camera movements during the editing procedure. We are molding the film as the way we want.

Animation is an abstract concept comparing to “live action”. Nothing is the same as the way they look like. The audiences have to guess what lies beyond the surface by the help of their subconsciousnesses. The most remarkable difference between my animations and animations such as “Persepolis” or “Waltz with Bashir” is they are like feature films.

It took 1 year to finish the script of “Gabriella”. Some directors draw storyboards completely but i only draw partly. We formed the characters linearly for creating the visual world of the movie. We used more than 700 backgrounds. If we didn’t have the computer based system we couldn’t make that movie, that’s for sure.

Actually i’d love to make a live action movie one day, i even wrote some scripts. But finding the money / fund is very hard for that kind of movies. That’s why i feel more free and independent while i’m making my animated films.”


During the International Istanbul Film Festival I’ve attended the cinema class “Constructing the Story” which was given by Estonian master animator, graphic artist, caricaturist, illustrator Priit Pärn. He explained us the basic techniques for working with ideas and constructing the script, besides he has us showed his 2 short commercial films and “Life without Gabriella Ferri” which won lots of awards. He shared some  known and  unknown  informations about his film.  Here is the few  basic notes from his class:

I’ve been drawing since i was a little kid. I graduated from the Department of Biology of Tartu University in 1970 and afterwards worked at the Botanical Garden of Tallinn as a plant ecologist.  I’ve been working on animation since 1976.  I didn’t study cinema but i’ve been teaching it for many years. I am the head of the Animation Department in Estonian Art Academy since 2006.

About “Life Without Gabriella Ferri”…

Why did i choose the name “Life Without Gabriella Ferri” for my movie? First of all, i thought it was a really nice name for a movie. May be many of you might not have heard the name of Gabriella Ferri. She is an Italian singer who passed away in 2004. Furthermore, as a creator,  this “without” word made me feel real free while i was making the movie.

The letters A and B we have seen in the movie are symbolizing a choice. Either A or B. While the little boy shows A+B to his father, he might refer his desire for his parents to stick together symbolically.

The characters in the movie are looking at the camera frequently and looking like  they are made of wood. It gives a strange impression which reflects the erotism to the audiences when they are playing with the knife. I am thankful to our sound editor for the annoying knife sound which has been heard frequently in the scene. This was really helpful for me to create the effect i wanted. The fish is being used for the symbol of erotism which is also the element for creating the play. The trio of  Fish-Knife-Music is reflecting the sad and deep feelings.

(After one of the audiences was likening him to Andrei Tarkovski’s style) I don’t think i am likening to Tarkovski’s style. Unlike me he has no sense of humor and  he is taking himself so serious. Besides i am the person who can laught at myself.  For instance if he shot my movie he wouldn’t use these hen and spider which i used. His child characters are also different. Our boy is a unique character. He is ugly, unattractive and he has plasters in his both hands. Hands are very important in this movie. I even have thought about giving the name “Hand” to my movie before I have decided “Gabriella”. This boy is representing the generation who has been raising with computer. They see but they don’t know how to touch. The reason he hits his head towards to wall is for taking his parent’s attention and getting locked himself in his room. Thereby he can be more free to log into porn sites on internet.

I have told Mr. Pärn that  I have watched his 2 short movies some time ago which are “Time Out” and “1895” and i especially loved the black humor in “1895” which is telling a story about the history of the cinema with an  amazing and different way. I have found “Gabriella” too much  pessimistic and dark even  it is a very impressive movie. It might be only  me  but i still wanted to know if he had any explanations or spesific reason about it:

I lost my ex wife at the same year that Gabriella Ferri passed away in 2004. I was very sad during that period. I guesss my mood is being anticipated in this movie. Yes this is a bit dark movie yet i don’t think it is pessimistic. I met with my current wife Olga by nice coincidence. We have decided to make this movie together. Since then we’ve been working and producing together and she is very supportive to me in every aspects.

The Relationship Between Hammer & Nail & Screw and A Story Development In Animation Movie

A hammer is a tool which is dominant but cruel and silly on the other hand. A nail is a tool which is tiny, passive but it attaches two woods together. Hammer is aware its power. Nail doesn’t have a big love for hammer but still they have to live together (Love & Hate Relationship). When it comes to a screw, we see a tool which has same mission with nail. But it is more sophisticated and educated tool by comparison to nail. Nail doesn’t like screw at all, screw finds nail arrogant. Although screw’s approach is negative to hammer, the attraction between them can not be obstructed. Screw finds their relationship ordinary. According to screw, it is more attractive situation when the hammer hit the screw…

All these relationship descriminations are here for exploring what’s going on in the possibilites arena. I haven’t created the story yet. I only know their structure and what they consist of. I will create the story with these datas.  I have to decide which one i will show firstly  in the movie. The hammer or the nail or  the screw or three of them together? Instead of showing the unhappiness of the hammer & nail couple’s in the beginnig,  i must show their good times together first and then their conflicts and bad times with their reasons.

One of  the main mistakes of the students who shot their short movies is that they have very good story but it has no end. Then suddenly very good ends come to their minds and  the story is already ruined  when they find the very best end for their stories.

Let’s say a film making process will take a year. Of course during in a year some improvise thoughts may pop up. But due to we are working in a studio, we have very limited opportunity for improvisation . The most creative procedure for us is the editing. Because unlike the other type of movies we are creating the camera movements during the editing procedure. We are molding the film as the way we want.

Animation is an abstract concept comparing to “live action”. Nothing is the same as the way they look like. The audiences have to guess what lies beyond the surface by the help of their subconsciousnesses. The most remarkable difference between my animations and animations such as “Persepolis” or “Waltz with Bashir” is they are like feature films.

It took 1 year to finish the script of “Gabriella”. Some directors draw storyboards completely but i only draw partly. We formed the characters linearly for creating the visual world of the movie. We used more than 700 backgrounds. If we didn’t have the computer based system we couldn’t make that movie, that’s for sure.

Actually i’d love to make a live action movie one day, i even wrote some scripts. But finding the money / fund is very hard for that kind of movies. That’s why i feel more free and independent while i’m making my animated films.

Orkide Ünsür

Masterclass: ANDERS REFN

Anders Refn is best known with his collaboration with Lars von Trier as editor. He is coming from an artistic family and also the father of the director Nicholas Winding Refn. He began his cinema career as  a prop assistant and an assistant director. Then he attended the National School of Denmark in 1967-1969. He made feature films and variable TV dramas as director; he worked in more than 40 films as editor. During the International Istanbul Film Festival, he has come to Turkey and has given a masterclass called “Breaking the rules. The importance of challenging the visual language of contemporary cinema. Illustrated by examples from my own works and my works with Lars von Trier.” During the class he showed us some scenes from the movies which he collaborated with Trier such as “Breaking the Waves”, “Dancer in the Dark” and “Antichrist”.

Birth of Dogma

The National Danish Film School became pioneer not only in our country also in the world when it established in 1966. For instance in Sweden, in spite of his genius, Ingmar Bergman had become very dominant personality which was blocking the young directors who attempted to get into film business. In our time, directors were working together united and our first priority was making a good Dan movie. We truly believed that it would open the doors for our second movie.  For example, Bill August is one of the best and world wide known directors in our generation.

Yet one of the worst side of us was we might cause to death of emotions and spontaneous approach because of our perfectionism. For instance when we examine Trier’s Europe Trilogy (“The Element of Crime”, “Epidemic” and “Europa”) we see these films keep distance to the audiences although they are very beautiful and esthetic as cinematographically. So we decided to reconstruct the language of cinema in order to destroy that distance. In 1995, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg presented their manifesto which they called Dogme 95. It was a new cinematic movement which was breaking many rules and my collaboration with Lars von Trier was an exiting initiative.

The Shooting and Editing Technique of “Breaking the Waves”

While we were shooting Breaking the Waves”, we used hand held cameras for giving the effect as the scenes have been shot in the family with amateur camera and we ignored the cinematographic approach. Naturally, some of the audiences didn’t like it at all, they were complaining about spinning heads and turning stomachs while they were watching the movie. The story of the movie was very touchy and melodramatic. If we made the movie with classical shooting and editing methods we did thought it might be very banal. When you watch the movie you realize the whole classical cinema rules collapse just in the first scene. We did all the mistakes which could be done. For instance there was a scratch on the negative film. We just settled it in the first scene. We were paying attention  to soft focus plans, I mean we didn’t want every pictures clear and focused. But our director of photography disturbed very much about it. Although camera assistant has been told for making soft focus, our director of photography was correcting the soft focus immediately and making the picture focused. At the end Lars had to write “MAKE MISTAKE” on the monitor.

We were shooting the whole scene non stop with many hand held cameras with different angles at the same time.  Thus our actors’ concentration didn’t ruin. Furthermore, we changed the sub text of every scene, we shot the same scene with different versions. Such as firstly drama then comedy versions. We made collages with them. Thereby you could see the actress while she smiles in one angle and she has different facial expression in other angle. Normally ruining the “Angle-Reverse Angle”, “Left-Right” rules are considered as sin. In the movie, our leading actress Emily Watson looks right and left in mixed way and this give the idea to audiences like they loose their orientations. She has these options freely. When she looks directly to the camera it means the wall between you and the curtain ruins.

We used general lightening for every scene and arranged the set that we would able to shoot in 360 degree angle.

While we were in editing procedure we made different kind of trials, we spoiled the edited scene. James Joyce says “Mistakes are the portals of discovery”. During the times when we thought we made a mistake, we reedited the scene etc. These things were almost impossible in the old times when we used analog technology.  It was very hard to go back when you did a mistake even the director might kill himself rather than reedit it. Joking aside, we owe the digital technology a lot due to it makes us more free..

The most important scene of the movie is the scene of “Bess’ Death” which is very emotional and sad. We deliberately kept short the scene that she was taken from boat and brought to E.R but the Surgery part was on purposely long. Actually the situations are surreal here. Her husband is lying on the next room; her mother is being allowed to get in to the Surgery etc. But these are not ruining the rhythm of the scene. In my opinion, although it is very melodramatic scene, we are successful for keeping the balance which is very important. We tried to keep the scene longer when it is getting emotional rather than cutting it but we were careful about avoiding banality. We decided to cut a scene when its rhythm is going down. I mean when a scene gets peak we cut it immediately like we chop it off.

Few Words About “Dancer in the Dark” and “Antichrist”…

The musical “Dancer in the Dark” had negative comments by some musical lovers and movie critics due to its lack of classical Hollywood musical and also it ruins the rules. But some people loved the movie a lot. By the time Selma gets in her dreams we shot the scene with 100 still cameras. This was really madness. The movie set was like a Swedish cheese with its many holes. The other problem was avoiding the whole cameras not seeing each other and we couldn’t use some camera’s pictures. Actually the reason that we used such amount of cameras was Björk is a musician and singer instead of an actress. Lars wanted to catch her best face expression. I worked as co director and editor in this movie. The music is edited by a French editor. Björk was responsible of the music of the movie, Lars was responsible from the whole movie and the hell begun at that moment. Because Lars was cutting the plans with his way which Björk didn’t like it at all. During this time I realized Lars didn’t know anything about music and Björk won the war!

My personal preference is not to involve in production procedure. But I had to work in production of “Antichrist” due to Lars’ sickness. He was depressed and wanted me on the set. We used a phantom camera which is able to shoot 1000 frame in a second. We thought using the phantom camera was the best way for giving the right emotion of the first scene and indeed it worked. We shot the movie together with Lars and I edited it. When it comes to music, Lars never uses it for make the audiences cry. On the contrary he wants you to cry without music and he did it on his all movies.


Masterclass: TODD SOLONDZ

One of my favorite American independent  script writers and film directors Todd Solondz was in Istanbul for attending the 29th International Istanbul Film Festival (3-18 April, 2010) with his latest film “Life During Wartime” and his Masterclass. During the Masterclass, he has  impressed all the audiences not only with his sincere, interesting and humble  personality, but also with his intelligence and great sense of humor.  I would like to share my brief notes about his experiences, thoughts and knowledges which he shared with us during his class:

 

What Kind Of Artist Am I?

 

“I am not an artist who works in a studio system. I’ve been making my movies in a shaky position. My first experiences were about writing. I’ve been writing since i’ve learned reading & writing in primary school. When i studied at the college, I began to write plays but all of them were awful.

I am not a “Whiz Kid”, however i was envying to be considered as one of them while i was a kid. I was interested in music for a while in my childhood period. According to my mother, I could be a very good piano player if i would keep on going. Actually i have everything about  music except talent. I love photography very much. But i do not like to touch a camera. While i was a student they gave me a privilege and i didn’t have to shoot anyone’s movie as a cameraman. When it comes to technical subjects, i really do not understand all these terms such as “F Stop” etc. They are all confusing my mind.

How Am I Choosing My Story, How Am I Writing My Scripts?

This is a mysterious procedure. In fact it is an exploring, even self exploring procedure. I do not write summary or treatment. I sit on a silent quite place and just write. I do not know how i write. I take a pen and a  paper and start writing down, that’s it. Writing a script is not an intellectual process for me but a creative one. I’m trying to have an emphaty with all of my characters and treat them equally no matter what. Although making movies with my own stories is not profitable i do love doing that. Besides, this is the most secure way for me. When i go to a movie theater, i prefer watching my own movies than other directors.

My Relationship With Actors/Actresses

I treat the child actor/actress (except he/she is being explained about all necesarry details his/her parent who are at the set) as i treat adult ones. Children don’t like improvising, on the contrary they do memorize all their lines exactly in the script. Adult players mostly prefer improvising which i really do not prefer. You have to respect all your actors/actresses. If you do that, you take nice feedback and thereby you win. When you are working at the set you do what your players want to do. You try to understand their moods, up and downs even you may find yourself as their therapist.

I don’t do any rehearsal with my players before the shooting process. Because auditions are kind of rehearsal for me. Right after the auditions i get in touch with the actor/actress whom i’d like to work with.

Finding A Producer And Financial Source

Actually i do not making good money with my films so do my producer. I do not consider myself “successful” about money making. Although the word “Producer” is being used various meanings, in fact the producer is the person who finds money rather than the one who invest it. For instance, the producer of “Lawrence of Arabia” always has been proud of himself as not spending any cent of his films he produced. For example, as an independent film maker, you wanted to use your neighbour’s home as a plato for 2 months and he let you to do that. So you can write your neighbour’s name as a “Producer” in your movie. Sometimes an agent of an actor/actress can be a producer of your movie.

You don’t have to work with a big named producer. It is enough to find a person whose  target is walking with you in the same path you have chosen. You can name them either producers or partners, who must have the talents and qualifications which you don’t have. Personally i have pretty good experiences with my producers except one of them who was a real nightmare!

Being  A Director is Realizing That You Can Not Control Everything

When you are at the set, the script you have written gets a new identity which is completely different than before. When you are in editing procedure, you may watch, everything you considered genious are in the garbage, they are all being cut. At the end,  you have a movie which was not  planned like that. But if you are lucky enough, it might be much better than you planned.

If you want to make a movie, you have to have your own idea and unique style. Otherwise it would be meaningless and pointless to say “Hey, I wanna make a movie like Coen Brothers’ movies!”

When i studied at the film school, I have seen enough failures. Right after i’ve  made my first movie, things have settled down and i’ve decided to keep going. I have a weak personality.  If I have been told that I was very bad at making movie  with no talent I would quit. On the contrary, I have been told that i had a very good timing with lots of compliments.

I consider myself also as a director while i was writing. They are a married couple for me. I have to act as a producer as well. Because i have to think about the costs. If i had more money, my movies wouldn’t be better than they are. Think about “Blair Witch Project”. If they make the movie with bigger budget, it wouldn’t be better than it was. This movie is already good enough with its low budget. I advise young filmmakers to be clever and foxy. Sometimes you need to find simple but smart and practical solutions to make your dreams come true. Even world wide famous and succesful directors such as Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders were working with their friends within minumum locations at the beginning of their careers. The main point you have to think about is “What is the unique thing i will tell?” I don’t mention about giving messages, what i mention is the essential thing is your experience, the thing you share.

The main reason that i wanted to be a film director is i do not want someone elses make  movies with my stories. Actually I have nothing to considered as a director. A film set is a nightmare for me. May be it is not same for other directors, everybody has their own approach. For instance if you ask to Ang Lee, he would probably say he feels himself “alive” when he is at the set. The situation is vica versa for me though.

Directing a movie is a very weird situation. One day they say to you “ You are satan who comes from the hell! ” and the other day they say vica versa. That’s why you have to pay attention to both reactions. It’s dangerous if you beleive when somebody call you “Oh! You are a genious!” Right after you finished your first movie you might  think to yourself  “Yeah…I’m done. I’m  a brilliant director”. In fact that would be a big delusion. If you are a film maker, you have many reasons to struggle. It’s a fact you need some ego if you wanna be a director.”


 


Masterclass: IIKKA VEHKALAHTI

Documentarist 2009 gave the film makers a wonderful opportunity to meet and discuss Mr. Iikka Vehkalahti world known documentary professional. And I was one of the lucky people who had this chance at 7 June  in Pera Museum Theater, Istanbul.

Iikka Vehkalahti 2

Mr. Vehkalahti is a board member in Steps International, Steps India and IDFA. He has served as commissioning editor for YLE TV2 Documentaries in Finland since 1998. He is also the executive producer for “Steps for the Future”and is a serious producer for “Why Democracy”. He directed several awarded-winnig documentaries which are “Past is Present”, “Man From the Shadow” and “Daughter of a Terrorist”.

During more than 6 hours class he presented us his ideas such as what makes a documentary project extraordinary and worth of the production; differences between tv documentaries produced for weekly consumption and real documentaries, their global projects “Why Poverty” and “What’s Wrong With Men” open all the filmmakers around the world. And of course he also mentioned about many essential and critical subjects for documentary filmmakers.

We saw some examples of best / interesting documentaries from the world today and of them  I saw this year in Filmmor which is “To See If I’m Smiling” directed by Israeli filmmaker Tamar Yarom. Beside the touchy story it has, this movie was remarkable for it’s camera using during interviews.

After he answered our tens of questions we watched the 10 min. teaser of  feature length documentary Kümenopolis which has been still in production procedure and directed by  İmre Balanlı. I loved his shots, technique and also the subject he has choosen. The film about unplanned architecture and 3rd Bridge project in Istanbul and also about a Kurdish family who has been living accomodation problem. I wish him luck to find some funds or producer to finance his movie.

Iikka Vehkalahti 1

At final Mr. Vehkalahti demanded us to present our own  documentary projects if any of us have some. Me and 4 other persons presented our documentary projects to discuss with audience. As  I remember 3 of them were not directors but I don’t remember the other friend was a director or not. Mr. Vehkalahti ciriticised the all 5 project ideas and gave us important tips. He wanted  the audiences  choice  their favorite project which is worth for financing. Couple of audiences and film makers gave their opinions about the projects and had their choices.  It seemed almost every project is good and can find it’s  own way.  Personally I’m glad to hear my project has been liked and it can have a chance in the future for its realization. It was interesting experience for me to share my project with people there and him but that’s for sure I should’ve explained it less complicated and more compact way:-)

As he said, documentary films as an art form as a purpose to stay for ever, having the strong touch of the director who sees, being local at the same time universal and most local films are actually the most global films.

Many thanks to Iikka Vehkalahti and Documentarist organizators…

Orkide Ünsür

Masterclass: JOHN MALKOVICH

I attended to Masterclass of world famous, unique actor John Malkovich in 28th International Istanbul Film Festival. I must say it was stunning experience for me. Even I was the first one asked him a question, just before workshop finished he gave me the chance to ask another questions which I forgot to ask because of my excitement ? So I am thankful to him.

Since the movie “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988) which has been the first encounter with him for Turkish audiences we loved J. Malkovich at first with his distinctive charisma that is still same and seems will never diminish in the future. It was quite enjoyable and interesting to listen his anecdotes about his professional life and cinema and also exploring his high intelligence, sense of humor, humble side of his personality which is hidden under the surface of his little arrogance and distance.

First I asked him that he is one of the idol actors on this planet every director wants to work with, if he has any idol director or directors. And I asked what the “good director” concept meant for him as an actor, as a director and as a producer (By the way I would like to congratulate the translator guy who was very successful about clear and net translations without skipping any details). Malkovich said he had no criteria about “good director” concept. But he considers himself lucky to finding a chance for working with very important directors. On the other hand he also missed the chance to work with some directors he really wanted to work with because they were already dead. According to Malkovich, a director’s past works and working style can not give him certain reference about the same director would have the same quality of work and working style with him.

malkovich2

While he was mentioning his thoughts on the relationships between his directors as an actor and also the relationships between his actors/actresses as a director; he already replied my “good director” question.

“ My duty as a professional actor is feeling a director’s vision. All in all it’s his/her dream not mine. Making or directing a good movie is very hard job. It’s me who is working for a director, director is not working for me. Director is the boss. When I am working as a director, I set my actors/actresses free as much as I can. I ask them questions, I try to communicate them and I try to find a way together with them. For instance I don’t care what they did at the rehearsal 4 months ago but today’s performance. I observe where they did please me where they don’t. If I feel something is not convincing about their acting, I say them immediately. Directors know the technique, framing, lightning but lots of them do not know how they can work with and motivate the actors/actresses. You can feel yourself as a puppet or as a monkey while working with them as an actor. Sometimes they express themselves with very interesting or strange gestures and you have to decode them. As a result, I have learned a lesson which is it’s you have to adapt to director not vice versa.”

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Malkovich said Michelangelo Antonioni and Manoel de Oliveira have priority and importancy of him and he is very pleased to work with them. Whenever they meet Manoel de Oliveira who is 101 now and still trying to make movie, blows up Malkovich’s mind with his talent. He says Oliveira is a wonderful director and tells us a little story about him.

“ One day me and Oliveira were together for talking about a movie project of him. I don’t know Portuguese and he doesn’t know English so we speak French. He has no script in his hand but the idea in his mind. He talked about the project for 1,5 hours. I was very tired and sleepless. So I said I accepted the project. He said “o.k.” and just began to talk about his second project. I couldn’t believe my ears! But he is very intelligent, talented and also brave director, it’s impossible for me being disrespectful or saying no him. Amazing guy…”

He said in 1976 he joined Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, newly founded by his friend Gary Sinise. During those days he had an actress girl friend and her influence had a great deal for him as choosing his career as an actor. Malkovich added that there was no role so far that he loved most or the closest to his real personality but he feels most comfortable himself in his character at “Of Mice and Men.

My other questions to Malkovich were about his director and producer parts which are not known so much in common. “ Mr. Malkovich I know you are interested in fashion. You made 3 short fashion movies ‘Strap Hanging’, ‘ Lady Behave’, ‘Hideous Man’ collaborated with Bella Freud who is fashion designer and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud. And I had a chance to watch the ‘Hideous Man’ which is very interesting and cool movie. Do you have new short fashion movie projects with Bella Freud? And my last question is: Your last movie as a producer is a documentary about the migrant children who cross illegally Mexican border to get to the U.S. How did you come up with this idea? And what are the reasons to drive you to make a documentary?

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He was surprised a bit about I had watched “Hideous Man” and he said he didn’t know yet if he was gonna make another short fashion movie. But he knew he could not make with Bella Freud because she was no longer working as a fashion designer now. About “Which Way Home” documentary, he said that he’d watched with his director friend Rebecca Cammisa 10 minutes documentary about migrant children. The video and the humanity tragedy of the children have inspired them to make this documentary movie together. He wants to make other documentaries in the future with Rebecca Cammisa who’s gotten the best documentary director award in Sundance Film Festival in 2002.

“You generally end up choosing one of the roles that were designated for you. Till today I played almost every different kind of role. But nobody asks me if I want to play a ballerina?” It would be marvellous experience if we could see this brave and stunning actor acting as a ballerina…


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