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Being A Master In The Field: Hilal Saral

With 20 years of directing, Hilal Saral is one of the most memorable names in the history of Turkish television. Saral says the secret to her success as the name behind the most popular TV series in Turkey is that she, first and foremost, enjoys what she does.

Your every project is executed flawlessly and consistently successful. In the TV industry, where it’s very challenging to have sustainable consummation, what is the secret for the right project?

I think success is something you feel as a result of your efforts. We all need to self-actualize. Without effort, success isn’t something you easily find. Making success sustainable is just as challenging as earning it. I believe I can overcome anything, can challenge myself, and can leave my comfort zone if necessary. This supports the flow, which is crucial in both directing and in our lives. You need to go with the flow; sometimes, you encounter such surprises that they bring wonderful things to your life. Of course, my strength comes from a good script, a good producer, and a team I can trust. I also try to pick good projects. Still, it’s not always possible to remain successful in the film and TV industry; sometimes, the audience surprises all of us.

What does it really mean to have mastered what you do? Would you define yourself as such? I have aspirations, dreams, and disappointments. I know that but I don’t think I can say whether I’ve mastered what I do or not. At every moment, you discover and try something new. It’s a learning process. I can say that I immensely enjoy what I do. Of course, it’s very important to keep happiness and make it last. People say that I’m solution-oriented and calm in moments of chaos when everybody panics. It takes a true master to predict the reaction of the audience. Is this something you gain over time? What do you pay attention to when you’re beginning a new project? The more experienced you are, the more you feel tuned in with the audience. What do they react to? What do they like or dislike? It can also depend on the habits of the audience, their socioeconomic conditions, natural disasters, or the overall psychology of the society. Our experience tells us that the Turkish audience loves drama series. It’s followed by comedy shows. Although the audience is unwilling to change their habits, they’re sometimes quick to embrace something new, like the psychological dramas that are on the rise. So, the concept of audience is rather hard to grasp. When I’m beginning a new project, I pay attention to its sense of reality and aesthetics, to evoke unseen feelings, to how good the script is, to how well I can flesh out the characters, and to the cast. If you were to go back to the beginning of your career, what three pieces of advice would you give to yourself? Don’t let negative energies affect you. Trust your feelings. Make time for yourself.

What are your predictions about the future of the industry? What kind of projects are you working on?

The future of the industry may look like it belongs to digital platforms but the level of production there may not be as intense as it is on mainstream channels. This high level of production is what made us the second biggest selling drama industry in the world, after the U.S. The production of high-quality projects between 2006 and 2014 brought us this success. I hope we can be as successful on digital platforms. Currently, we have some great digital productions. I think we’ll gain prominence by telling stories about women, writing scripts based on unique characters, and casting good actors. Personally, I prefer working for digital platforms.


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