Tell me about yourself.
I am Besi Adut. I was born in İstanbul in 1982. I am Jewish. My interest to cinema began when I was a child. I was a candid viewer since my childhood the thing took my attention most was watching movies. I was attracted by the Event Horizon presented by Alfred Hitchcock and I loved to rent horror movies, sci-fi and fantasy. My favorite film as a child was Labirtnth, Jennifer Connelly was perfoming. I told myself that I wanted to make a film like that in the future. I am writing my own stories and screenplays since than. I had a video camera when I was a child and I began shooting short films, camera used to be my favorite toy and now I can’t think any other industry to work in. In this life the only thing I wanna do to write screenplays and to shoot feature length films. I really don’t want a die before leaving an internationally succesful film behind me as a mark. I want to be immortal with my films that’s my only dream in life and I will do everything for this desire.
What are you doing right now?
After I graduated from the university last year I sent my thesis short film to the several festivals and my film is screened in many film festivals and won awards. Two days ago I won an award of best short film “2. prize “ in the short film festival underlining the theme of women which is orgranized by Short Filmmakers Organization. I worked in television channels, in commercials and in a succesful feature length film as the director’s assistant. Now I am working in Tursak Foundation of Cinema and Audiovisual Culture. I am the film program director assistant and international relations coordinatior. We organize several international film festivals like Golden Orange (which is the Oscar award for Turkey) last year we invited David Caradine and Michael Madsen to the festival. So I have a chance for connection with many filmmakers and actors coming as guests to our festival. Cinema&History Festival which underlines the theme of Human Rights. We also organized comedy film festival and children film festival. I am also helping to a Dutch film director, I am his pre-production assistant in his Capaddocia Project.
Other than that, nowadays I am writing an original feature length script with a friend of mine Rila. This one is the most important thing for me right now. This will be a very philosophical, deep but an exciting movie. It’s like nothing has ever been made before. But it has some similar points with Matrix and What the Bleep do we know? in a sense of questioning the reality. Film is about the paralel realities.
In which courses were you most successful? Why?
I was most succesful in Film Grammar, Film Culture: Firstly because I admired our teacher, it was pleasure for me to listen to her. What I have learned from these courses were not only limited with films but also useful in my daily life. I learned to read films and see beyond the surface. When I began to read between the lines and see the subtext watching films became more fun for me because it is like a puzzle that you solve by using your mind. I loved the teacher, she told us very well of course that’s very important fact too. Now when I am going to make a film I think carefully what kind of light or camera angle I should use to give the effect that I want to. For instance, I could take a man low angle and distorted frame this will show the distortion of his authority. Or I could use black&white to give the reality feeling, may be I could use such sounds and music to make people laugh.
In summary, I learned how to use the tools of cinema and the language of cinema. Now, I want to create my own film language like many directors I admire Tim Burton for example has his own film style and you see his sign from the details like the font of the poster, Soundtrack by Danny Elfman, his favorite actor is Johnny Depp. Or David Lynch likes to use th 50’s style in his films there is usually an usual montage which confuses the audience mind he has a light effect. Quentin Tarantino uses violance in a humorous way and his soundtracks are very good. He chooses the music for the soundtrack very good. Stanley Kubrick is very perfectionist and even though he tried different genres he also has obsessions like frames are usually very symetric in his films and he uses classical music. There is classical music in Shining, in Clockwork Orange and in Space Odyssey. The most known example is Alfred Hitcock he becomes a cameo in all of his films and that attracts the attention of the audience. We watch the film more carefully, looking for details trying to find out where he is hidden in this film. I think these are the key methods for being a unique film director. Just like an author’s style. Douglas Adams has a speacial language that you can only read in his books. Or there were many artists but Van Gogh and Picasso are so unique because they have such a unique style. That’s exactly what I want. I want to make films with my own film language and I want to sign them with my name Bessy…
Video Production: the best way is to produce and in this class I understood the importance of team spirit. You are not making a film alone and like an orchestra every insturment must be good on its own and must be in harmony with others. Director is like an orchestra chief, he directs all the sounds.
Cinema and Mythology: I noticed the archetypes in mythology is used in most of the films. Espeacially in Matrix I found out so many things
Film Genres: I learned the iconography of many film genres as western, comedy, horror and romance
Contemporary Trends in Film and Television: the latest issues is Film and Television as feminisim, gay&lesbian rights
Exploring the Digital Media: Digital Media is growing every day more and more. I am very interested in the digital technology like the speacial effects in films like King Kong, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Star Wars. Speacial effects are just like magic you can do anything if you know how to use them and this attracts me very much. I am also interested in 3D animation which is mostly used in animations and computer games.
In which courses were you least successful? Why?
I was mostly succesful in most of my lessons because I really loved the department and my teachers. When I do something with love and desire I become succesful so my grades were usually good in the university. I have always been good at writing compositions, stories and screenplays. I like to create and make interpretations. I am least succesful in memorization and so the course I was least succesful was History of Turkish Revolution and Information Technology. I didn’t have any lesson that I was not succesful related to cinema during my education.
Do your grades reflect your abilities? If not, why did you not do better?
Mostly. I think so. But the best way to see my abilities is to let me shoot more short films with beter facilities and watch the films I produced I thinkJ I believe I can do beter with better equipment and Professional actors.
In what ways did your education prepare you, or fail to prepare you, for your career to date?
I think my education prepared me well for my career. Yet, I still want to improve myself. Because I want to be the best in my speacialization. I will always want to be better and better. I think I have got everything possible in my film school yet there is much more than that and I believe the hands on experience will prepare me better for my career. Last summer I worked in a feature length film and in both production and production in all aspects I loved to be in the film industry. That’s the only business I want to do in this life.
It’s not only education of course, to work in the industry you should have good contacts and relationships in our country. To make a film you need Money (sponsor, producer) and a very good crew. Experience in filmmaking is more important I think for my career.
What do you want to be doing in 5 years? 10 years? 25 years?
I want to be a film director and I also want to have an academic career. My only ideal in life is to make feature-length films and to gain international succesful with my films. In 5 years I plan to make short films and submit to as many international short film festivals and competitions as I can. I want to win some awards and with my films that are screened in the festivals I might attract a producer, a distributor or a talent agent. I will also write feature-length and tv series screenplays. If I have a chance I will shoot my screenplays by myself. If not I will write screenplays for the film industry until I catch a chance of my own. Like Paul Haggis who won the best film award with his film “Crash” this year. I found the screenplay and the editing of the film very succesful. When I have a look to his Professional career he wrote many screenplays. He earned success with his screenplay “Million Dolar Baby” directed by Clint Eastwood and he could shoot this succesful movie. I read the biographies of my favorite directors and I see many of them began to their Professional career by writing screenplays (like Oliver Stone, Woody Allen) and others began with television making music video or commercials like David Fincher. It might be harder for me may be because I am Jewish, Female and Turkish an alien in the United States. May be I can turn these things to advantages. Anyway, I will try all the ways, all the doors and I know that I will make it at last. Because I have the key. Key is my imagination. There is no limit in imagination.
After 25 years I want to keep on making films, writing screenplays but I also want to have an academic career and share my experience and knowledge with the prospective film students. I want to help to the young people to reach their dreams and desires like me.
What do you want to accomplish in life?
I want to accomplish feature length films which will become an international success for me and for my country. I want to make beneficial things for the future cinema of my country. I want to open a way to women filmmakers too. I want to tell my stories throughout cinema and my deepest desire is to invent an original film language of my own. I want people to watch a scene from my film and say “this is Bessy” and after I leave this world I want a kid to watch my film and reach to her/his soul in a positive way.
How have your goals changed in recent years?
As I was a child I wanted to be an actress but my goal had changed when I took the camera to my hands and taste the behind the scenes. Yet, I can still both direct and act in my films. Because I find very succesful some directors who also become the actors in their own films. Like Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin and Clint Eastwood. I tried all branches of art as I was a child. My family noticed that I had an artistic talent and a creative brain. So they sent met o dance and balet courses when I was little. Then I took piano and guitar lessons. I went to sculpture and painting courses. I loved to read books and I have always been interested in literature. I wrote my own stories and screenplays. I studied painting and drawing in high school. And finally I decided to be a film director. Because I can use all my talents and 7 branches of art in a movie.
My goal is to become a cinema artist. I see cinema both as an art and as an entertainment. Since I chose my department in university as Film&Television and since I shot short films worked in films I understood that’s it! That’s exactly what I want to do in my life. I want to be a film director that’s all! I have many stories to tell and cinema seems to be the greatest tool for me.
Which other schools are you applying to? Why? Why so many/few?
As you know I won the Fulbright Scholarship and IIE (Institute of International Educarin) applied to the schools on my behalf. I applied to UCLA, Columbia by myself. And IIE applied to San Fransisco State University, Chapman University and California Institıte f the Arts
Why did you choose our/these school(s)?
I read the film school confidential which gave information on the film schools in America. And I also made researches from the internet. I looked to the equipment like the cameras and the editing systems. I looked to the university campus and around. I read the ideas of the students who graduated from these schools. I also looked to the teachers past. I did not choose AFI because I heard that they don’t let international students to direct films for instance, and I chose the film schools that gave me hands on experience opportunity because I want to shoot as many short films as I can while I am studying there. I want to be espeacially in California because it is near to the heart of the film industry. I would like to make internship around there if there is such an oppurtunity. I looked to the alumni. I chose Calarts because my favorite director Tim Burton has graduated from that school. I chose Columbia University University because many film directors such as Martin Scorsesse and Oliver Stone comes there for seminars or workshops. I think division in the department is also imprtant
Which school is your first choice? Why?
- Your school is my first choice. I want your school mostly because you have great facilities, very good teachers in the faculty and it seems to be one of the best schools in the United States
- I want your school because I will study with a scholarship and I can’t afford a very expensive school. Your school is both good for my education and future.
What if you are not accepted at a top school?
If I am not accepted to a top school, then I will go to a state university. And I will try to do my best there.
What is your favorite book/movie/drama and why?
May Favorite Book is: Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul which is written by Douglas Adams who also wrote the Hitchhikers Gıide to the Galaxy. Now I am adapting this novel to a screenplay just to have a try. I have a dream to make an adaptation of this novel in the future. It is a fantastic, mythologic novel in a sense of dark humor. There are two different characters who meet at some point. Dirk Gently is a dedective and he tries to solve the murder of one of his client’s. Actually this murder is his fault because he could not protect him. While he is trying to find out in his own methods, Kate wakes up in a hospital after the accident in the airport. Then strange occurances and coincidances follow each other. I love it because I love dark humor.
My Favorite Drama: Phantom of the Opera. Very emotional and senseational.
My favorite movie:
Crash (this year) : it tells the life stories of the different people and how they conflict in some point. Every good or bad thing you do returns to you at last. It is very realistic. The screenplay was very detailed, succesfully written. Performances were very natural and good. Editing was also good both the paralel editing and the film ended where it began. It was a political film about racism, and xenophobia (fear of the strangers) which was not boringJ When I come to America I will be an alien too as an international student so it was interesting to see the problems of people from different origins. The film says we are all “human” in the end. We are all alike even though our colors or language is different. We all carry a light as much as darkness. People we encounter every day are just mirroring ourselves to us.
What the Bleep do we know??? (this year)
This documentary is the muse of my new screenplay. It questions the reality and parallel realities. After watching this film I became more careful of what I think because we create or own reality with our thoughts, words and energy. The thing that I liked most was the water issue in the film. There is a Japanese science men who made an experiment with water. With the words he says to the pure water like “thank you”, “good bye”, “I love you” water changes. There are pure, chrystal images in positive words and water blurs with negative ones. It asks if our words have such a power on water, then it has a stronger effect on ourselves because most of our body 3 of 4 is full with water. If we think negatively it is harmful both for us and for people around us. Film reminds us to love ourselves and gives encouragent to change our lives.
This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. Actually it includes also a fiction film and animation in it. Brain doesn’t know the difference between what it sees and what it remembers.
Rent (this year): I watched this film during the independent film festival in İstanbul. The film is directed by Chris Columbus who also directed Home Alone and Gremlins which were my favorite films as I was a child. Lastly he directed Harry Potter films. However Rent is a different movie. It is a musical which is about contemparary youth problems. There are different characters living in the same apartment building. One of them wants to be film director, there is a musician who lost his girlfriend because of drugs and he falls in love with another junkie girl. There is a transvestive, a lesbian relationship, aids and drugs issues. Most of the modern problems of youth is shown in this movie in a musical. I really liked that independent movie.
The City of Lost Children: the visuality of the film attarcted me the most. Red, green colors. Wide angle lenses. Production set design and art direction was really a piece of art! It was very fantastic. I can’t forget the santa clauses, the twins who stole to the dreams from children and the love between the little girl and the giant.
Edward Scissorhands: I always cry when I watch this movie. The colors are very bright and shiny in there however Edward goes there black and white and he is very different from others. Firstly, people like him and uses him for their own good. Like he becomes a hairdresser, a gardener. He has scissorhands so he hurts the woman he loves by mistake. When he makes a mistake he becomes the space goat of everything. His loneliness and feeling like an outsider always touched my heart, I don’t know why exactly.
“Hostel” by Eli Roth. I went to the movie with excitement when I saw “Quentin Tarantino” presents, last year I went to “Hero” with his reference and I really admired it however Hostel didn’t gave me much pleasure. The film is about young boys who go to interrail and want to live some experiences with women, then they found themselves as trapped in a sadistic trap. Film was ok as a low budget b-movie but it didn’t give me any message other than be careful with the people you hang out during the interrail, there might be rich sadists want to play with you. There were many bloody, gore scenes but it is not why I disliked the film, it didn’t give me any feeling. When the film ended we asked “so what? “ to ourselves. May be the filmmaker wanted to say that we all have the potential of violance in ourselves and wanted us to face with it. But it is not a very original thing to say, not anymore…
My Favorite Directors are:
- Stanley Kubrick: Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barry Lyndon
- Quentin Tarantino: Sin City, Kill Bill,Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, 4 Rooms, Reservoir Dogs
- David Lynch: Mulholland Dr. , Lost Highway, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man, Eraserhead
- Martin Scorsesse: Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas
- Tim Burton: Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Ed Wood, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Vincent
- Jean Pierre Jeunet: Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen
- Terry Gilliam: The Brothers Grimm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King, Monthy Phyton, The Adventures of Baron Munchasen, Brazil, Time Bandits