Monday, June 27, 2011
Oktay Ege Kozak Interview
Oktay Ege Kozak is a Turkish screenwriter and film critic living in The Bay Area. So far, he wrote 7 feature screenplays and is working on his eight. He wrote and/or directed more than 10 professionally-made short films, one of which won Best Film at the 2008 48-Hour Film Festival. One of his feature screenplays attracted great interest from some of the biggest film studios in India. A TV show he co-created was put in development at CNBC-E in Turkey. He is also a film critic for Beyazperde.com, Turkey’s premier source for film reviews, showtimes and news.
What is the current project you are working on?
Director Salvador Luna and I are trying to put together the funds to make our first feature a reality. It's called In Another Life. I wrote the script and it's about a lonely young man who becomes convinced that a pretty book store clerk is his wife in another dimension. Kind of a Romance with a fantasy twist. We have all the shooting and editing equipment we need. We also have our 2 leads almost cast. We just need funds for locations and crew to make this happen.
We have our Indiegogo fund raising page at http://www.indiegogo.com/IN-ANOTHER-LIFE where people can donate and receive perks such as signed DVDs, invitations to the premiere and even producer credit!
I'm also in talks with a Turkish producer to cover our original $25.000 budget for distribution rights in Turkey. I figured the Turkish audience might be interested in an American film written and produced by a Turkish filmmaker (Me).
Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
Ever since I can't even remember. Apparently when I was 5, I used to watch Disney movies on TV and tell my mother "I'm going to make one of these one day". Still waiting for that "one day".
What is the best thing about being one?
The creative rush while being lost in the middle of writing a screenplay. Unfortunately, it only arrives once every couple of years or so. The rest is painfully dragging myself to the computer to get some writing done.
What is the worst thing about being one?
Not actually being able to be one. You know, one that does it full time and actually gets paid and appreciated for his/her efforts.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
I wrote 7 features and over 20 short films so far. I have around 10 professionally made short films either directed by me or other people. A short film I co-wrote won the 2008 48 Hour Film Festival.
Who is is your favorite filmmaker?
Akira Kurosawa. I read a book about him that described him as the "trunk" of cinema. Meaning if all of film is a tree and the directors are branches, he is the trunk where all the inspiration and life power comes from. The more Kurosawa you watch, the more you can't help but agree to that.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?
Don't do it, the last thing I or any other struggling filmmaker needs is more competition. Also, your parents will thank you later on when they won't have to still pay your rent at 30.
I'm sorry, I don't mean to be Mr. Crankypants, but it's also kind of a test. The one common word I hear from every successful filmmaker regarding the answer to this question is "Tenacity".
No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what happens to you, you don't give up. Apparently, you have to be one dedicated and stubborn bastard and that's what I'm trying to be. So if you weren't even one bit discouraged by the negative comment above and KNOW that you can make it somehow, that's a step in the right direction, I hope.
What do you like to do besides filmmaking?
I'm also a professional film critic. I write for Beyazperde.com, Turkey's most read film publication with over a million visitors a month.
How would you describe your film education?
Too much money spent with not much to show for it. I have a BA in Film Theory from Istanbul Bilgi University and an MFA in screenwriting from Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
What is your opinion on movie remakes?
As an original screenwriter trying to get anything noticed in this cutthroat market, I have a more personal beef with remakes. There are tons of great, unproduced stuff out there and with all the remakes, prequels, sequels and reboots, it's getting harder to sell and produce original material.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/IN-ANOTHER-LIFE and donate whatever you can. Don't say "They're probably not going to reach their goal before the deadline, it's a waste of time". We get to keep whatever amount we can reach and any amount helps!
You can also download the screenplay from the Gallery section and decide for yourself if this is a story worth making. I hope you'll enjoy it!
Thanks for doing the interview. I'll spread the word about "In Another Life".