Your film Shades
of a Killer - in a few words, what is it about?
Hi and firstly
thanks for this interview and your interest in the film.
of a Killer
for me is about one man (Jaan) searching for his own way in the dark
bloody and violent world of contract killers and organised crime with
themes of paternal angst and brotherhood loyalty while touching on how
our own destiny is pre determined and thus we must face it head on. I
have also mixed Cultural influences of my own Turkish heritage to try
and give the film a different flavour.
of a Killer was quite obviously inspired by heroic bloodshed and
martial arts movies from Hong Kong. What do you find appealing about these
movies, and your genre favourites?
I grew up watching
the Hong Kong/Japanese films of the 70's, 80's & 90's, but my first
inspiration was Bruce Lee. I first saw The Big Boss when I was 5 and I
was blown away by Bruce Lee, he had an energy that exploded from the screen
while still having a sense of reality in his performance, and he was
obvisously the real thing in terms of his fighting ability. I am a massive
fan of Hong Kong cinema from its use of balletic action sequences to its
use of long action set pieces - but I'm influenced more by Japanese
cinema for visual photography and themes of honour, betrayal and place
within society. The
Jaan Character was heavily influenced by Ken Takakura's Outlaw portrayal
seen in the Toei films as well as Turkish cinema of the 60's
and 70's which had the feared hero with a heart character personified by
Cuneyt Arkin, a popular Turkish actor.
Favourites are too many to mention so a limited list:
All Bruce Lee films.
Chan's Young Master, Police Story, Project 'A'.
Wheels on Meals, Dragons Forever, Heart of the Dragon and
The Killer & Hard Boiled.
Tiger Cage, In the Line of Duty.
Crying Freeman The
Lone Wolf & The
Toei Studio films -
the Jaan Character was heavily influenced by Ken Takakura's Outlaw
Other sources of
also got inspiration from Japanese Anime and comic books for the film in
its use of story structure and use of colour texture within the film and
Crying Freeman was a massive inspiration
as well as Jean Claude Van Damme for my own fighting style
How would you
describe your directorial approach?
That's always a
difficult question as I feel it's up to others to make those kind of
comments about me. I would like to think I have my own style that is unique
and individual. I feel my style is evolving all the time with more life
experience so I guess if I had three words they would be Individual,
Cinematic, Entertaining. Ask me in ten years
How were the action
scenes in Shades of a
Killer actually achieved, and were any of your cast including
yourself actually trained in martial arts and the like?
of a Killer
I wanted to make the biggest action film I could within
my limited budget, so I knew the action had to hold up. I wanted to make a
film where you could see the actors actually doing the fighting rather
than cutting the camera every few moves, so I kept the camera away as much
as possible to show that actually it's us doing the fighting. Both myself
and Mohammad Amar are trained martial artists so we handled the majority
of the fight choreography and Mohammad is a weapons specialist so he
handled the fire arms, as we we're using live ammunition for the majority
of the gun fights. We only had one actor who wasn't a trained fighter, the
actor who played Jem, so we trained him in screen fighting and by and
large he does a great job. We managed to get this amount of action through
sheer hard work and a great team who followed my lead and we all wanted to
make it the best we could.
also play the lead in Shades
of a Killer. Why, and how would you describe yourself as an actor?
I have always loved
the movies ever since I was a quiet unconfident kid growing up. I always
wanted to act and thats how I started out having a passion for
performing. I didn't know how to get into it so one day my dad bought the
family a camera and I began making films.
I would describe
myself as an "In the moment actor" - I love the work of Sanford
Meisner and his approach to acting. I like to feel I am open to the
actor in front of me so I can bounce off their creativity and I am
profoundly committed to what I do, be it acting Producing/Directing or
making a cup of tea - and I do that well too.
can you tell us about your cast and crew?
can tell you that they're all fantastic for sticking with the project as
it was a long and extremely tough shoot - it was an ambitious film I was
trying to make and they all worked hard to achieve this, so without
creative talent a filmmaker has nothing but his imagination and that
alone is not enough to make a film a reality.
As far as I
know, Shades of a
Killer was your debut feature. How did that project get off the
ground to begin with, why did you choose such an ambitious project with
quite a high level of action - and was there ever a point where you were
thinking about just giving up?
I chose Shades of a
as my debut because it was a story I was comfortable with, I
wanted to make something I wanted to watch myself, and also one I could
show all my inspirations in, it's my fan boy film to the films I loved growing
up. It is ambitious to make an action film when you're first starting
out, but I have always been ambitious and looked to do things out of the
box. I thought about giving up frequently as independent filmmaking is
tough and seems to be getting tougher, but something keeps me going and I
feel this is what I am meant to do - sounds cheesy but its my calling.
As far as I know, your
film was shot in 1999 but not released until 2010. To put it bluntly, why?
I originally did a
version of Shades of a
back in 1999 while in college which I completely shot on Super VHS with no budget whatsoever, but I was never
happy with it and felt it didn't reflect my ability so once I left
college and set up a company Knight Productions with my partner Saima
Yildirim I decided to remake it and make it the film I wanted to make.
We went into
production in late 2002 and shot on weekends till the end of 2003, by
which point I had run out of money and my cast had moved on to other
things. The problem was we still hadn't shot all our script, so I decided at that
point I had to shelve the project in order to regroup. I then spent the
next few years learning my craft fully working on other projects and
building my networks, so in 2009 I was working with Ali Yildirim, my uncle
who is a great writer, we got to talking about Shades of a
over a series of conversations we developed the story structure we
needed to complete the film. So the non-narrative approach was a device
we used in order to make the film work. We shot additional material to
meld the story together - so a massive thanks to Ali Yildirim who came
onboard on the 11th Hour to help me structure the film, and he also worked
with me on post production.
can you tell us about critical and audience reception of Shades
of a Killer?
far so good it has been received well and getting positive reviews. Its
release is due March 6th 2012, so let's hope it makes its budget back.
Looking back at Shades
of a Killer from the distance of more than a decade, what are the lessons learned from it
for you as a director?
have learned so much from when I first began this film, I have learned how to
tell a story with conviction. I have learned that film is a collaborative
effort of a big number of people and I have learned a lot about myself from
this journey, it has been a great experience for me.
What got you into filmmaking in
the first place, and did you recieve any formal training on the subject?
was a shy kid that felt when I was watching films I could be the hero. I
wasn't great at school and was a bit of a troublemaker. I was making
films since I was 14 but never thought I could do anything with that
skill. I was studying for a business qualification in college and one of
my lecturers announced a project that would involve telling a story by
using film as a tool. I took on the challenge and made a film and got a
distinction and that set me off on my journey. After my business course I
realised that my passion lay in film production so I went back to college
to study film. After college I did an additional course at the New York
Film Academy which was a fantastic insight into film and a grass roots
approach to film making which has benefitted me in my career so far.
can you tell us about your filmwork since Shades
of a Killer, and how do you think you have evolved as a director?
I have been
building up momentum as a film maker for a while since Shades of a
Killer, I have gone on to win awards and released another film called
Tales of the Dead, an anthology horror film. In 2010 I completed a feature
film called Secrets, which was a great project to work on as it was a
very collaborative effort as we had no script and just a structured
story. Secrets for me was a change in direction as it allowed me to trust
my instinctive directing skills more than just relying on a script.
Secrets screened at Cannes 2010 and received a great response.
I feel as I have
grown as a director I would describe myself as an actors' director and a
more accomplished story teller with an eye for detail. I just love
telling stories in the most cinematic way possible and in my own way.
the years, you have returned to the horror genre time and again. A genre
at all dear to you, and why (not)?
I love the horror genre, it's the first kind of film I look for in a store or online to buy. I
have been a horror fan since I was a kid. As well as the martial arts films
I loved it was also horror that inspired me to become a film maker I love
the feeling you get when you watch a good horror film, and it's one genre
that will be always be popular as it taps into a raw human emotion and
that is powerful.
collaborator on almost all of your films is indie filmmaker Jason Impey.
What can you tell us about him, and how did you two first hook up?
first Jason back in 2007 when he put an online post out looking for
collaborators. I replied as I too was looking to work with like-minded
people. It was a great meeting, we just talked about horror and all our
favourite films. We knew straight away we we're going to work together. Since then we haven't stopped and have become very close friends. He is a
talented award-winning filmmaker in his own right, he is my Director of
Photography (DOP) on a lot of my films and I produce, DOP and act in his
productions also. Our wives say we're joined at the hip - which is true.
upcoming film Rose - you just have to talk about that one for a bit!
Rose is my latest
feature film that is due for release 2012/2013, it is my biggest film to
date and a powerful true story about one woman's fight to reclaim her
life. It's based on the life of a close friend of mine who was trapped
in a dark world that many woman and children around the world find
themselves in. The film started out as a short film that went to Cannes
on completion in 2008. It went onto receive a special mention, I received
a lot of interest after this to turn it into a feature film, and it spent
three years in development.
Rose is about
most gritty urban drama story of our time, set in Hellville, an unspoken
world that exists near you.
is a hopeful woman broken by drugs, prostitution and Blondie, the Czar of
Hellville. Struggling to support her habit, Rose finds herself and her six
year old daughter at Hellville’s mercy. When Rose betrays Blondie
turning tricks behind his back, she and her daughter endure many
hardships, including the fight to protect themselves from Blondie’s
brutal iron grip, in pursuit of her dream to reclaim their lives.
After waiting what
seemed a lifetime and attending meetings that lead to me still feeling
like I was no closer to making my film, I decided I would make the film
independently, so in 2010 I began raising finance on my own. By the end
of 2010 I had raised enough to shoot the film so began pre production in
early 2011. Principal photography began in July 2011 with a shooting
schedule of 21 days, and post production ended in January 2012. We are
now in the exhibition and Distribution stage and I am very excited about
this film as I feel this is the beginning of my own style of directing
and the message behind the film needs to be seen.
future projects you'd like to talk about?
future is looking good I have a slate of 7 feature films in various stages
of development, one of which a horror film that will commence principal
photography in April 2012. The film is called Silent Cradle, so
look out for that, it will be a very dark tale.
I have so many I
will name a few:
Lars Von Trier,
Nuri Bilge Ceylan,
Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio -
click here], Martin Scorcese, Roman Polanski, Sam Peckinpah, David Cronenberg,
I could go on and
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The Exorcist, Three
Secrets & Lies, Straw Dogs, Nine Songs, Death
of a Chinese Bookie, Taxi
Driver, Crash (Cronenberg) and any Bruce Lee
I could seriously
go on and on as I have top twenties in all genres ...
and of course, films you really deplore?
Any modern day
remake that hasn't got heart or is just a rehash of other
people's work, I can't stand unoriginal films that don't try and tell
their own story.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
you can find out
more about me at
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
want to thank you for taking the time to watch the film but also support
indie filmmakers like me who are trying to carve out a career in a
difficult industry. We need support from film lovers who are are interested
in low budget Independent films. Thanks a lot!