Accomplished director Ali Bilgin says, while choosing projects, he looks for stories that make his heart “skip a beat.” For Bilgin, it’s even more important for his works, which he realises without any particular goal for awards or achievements, to excite others.
Photography: Ali Kalyon
Styling: Muhammet Bozkurt
Styling Assistant: Fikri Yüzbaşıoğlu
Hair and Makeup: Onur Bayram
Production: Müge Sarıoğlu
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Looking at your filmography, we see that you’ve worked on different projects without limiting yourself to a specific genre or similar stories. What makes a project stand out in your eyes? How do you choose your projects?
First, I need to be excited by what I’m reading; the story should make my heart skip a beat. I’m also looking for an element of curiosity; if it is a series, I need to feel compelled to keep reading. During the first reading, I surrender completely to the flow of the story, like an ordinary reader rather than a director. Then, through feelings, intuition and past experiences, I try to make the right decision. I care about choosing a different project each time. Although I aim to create works in many different genres, we unfortunately have limited space and freedom in the medium; what I mean by this is action, science-fiction, and mystery. Since they require more time and effort in terms of both financing and technical requirements, it doesn’t seem very rational to engage in such projects. So I can say I eliminate these genres when making a selection. We can also develop projects with inspiration from a book, a movie, a song, or a situation.
Is there a specific genre for which you would love to direct a film or a series? What’s your biggest professional dream?
My biggest dream has always been doing things that people enjoy; I want my works to excite others, to give them a good time or even make them want to watch it again, and not to make me feel embarrassed for doing them. Everybody dreams of winning awards but this should not be the ultimate goal; the path may lead you there but when I set goals based on achievements, I think it makes me unhappy. Other than that, I’d love to direct a production in the fantastic or science-fiction genre, or a period action drama in the late eighteenth century, or a space movie. There are plenty of options and I have a lot of things I want to do but timing is the most important factor. I hope I can realise these dreams with the right projects and for the right platforms.
T-shirt: Beymen Collection
Pants: Z Zegna/Beymen
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What do you think about the recently popular remakes of films and series? Do you see it as a symptom of creative blockage, or the rebirth/reinterpretation of beloved stories?
Remakes have always been around and we will keep seeing them in the future. The point is, as always, how you remake something. The adaptation of cult works may be risky but, when executed properly, I enjoy watching them very much. I don’t see remakes as a hindrance to creativity but I can tell you that sometimes remaking, localising, or adapting something to contemporary times can be a lot more difficult than writing something from scratch. This is especially true if the original is much loved; it puts a lot more stress not only on the screenwriter but also on everyone from the director to actors. I think what matters is how it is conceptualised and executed, not unlike in music and fashion.
We’re living in times when everything is changing fast and a new thing is introduced into our lives. What does “time” mean to you as a director?
Personally for me, time management lies at the heart of happiness. Yes, everything is changing fast but the trick lies in finding ways to adapt to this change instead of whining or getting enraged about it. The quicker this adaptation is, the happier I feel. It can be a new job, a new place, or a new situation; it can be death, life, everything… Life becomes easier when I quickly accept new situations or places. I believe it to be precious to keep up with the times instead of fighting against it or whining about it. I think this approach lies at the heart of balance and harmony. However, the management and rhythm of time can vary from place to place; maybe success comes from differentiating between the two at work, at home, or on vacation.
Do you think creativity requires a free spirit? When was the last time you truly felt free?
I don’t mean to sound depressed but the feeling of freedom has been lost for some time. It feels as if the concept has not existed in our lives for a very long time. It feels so “old-school” as if we have forgotten about it. When our brains and perceptions become as shallow as our surroundings, we may even delude ourselves for being free because the system is too chaotic for us to question it. In that regard, I don’t believe myself to be creative. I think my childhood years were the times when I felt the freest. We could dream big dreams; now, we don’t even dream anymore.