The vision of “Jakob’s Ladder” or first-time director debut movie journey

How many little rocks did you collect in your life? Those little ones scattered on a beach or some bigger ones maybe on arid land out there somewhere where you left everything behind? Did you ever put your head to one of them, or maybe onto a collection of them, just to take a little rest on a long long walk you didn’t know where and when it will end? Did you know that, according to the Scriptures, this selfless act of collecting some rocks – like the way Jakob did before dreaming of his Ascension to Heavens on a ladder – means the challenge we face as responsible and conscious human beings to bring order both to our own chaos inside and the earth around – “formless and empty”, and “darkness… over the surface of the deep”? A series of selfless or arbitrary acts made in this fashion are called “the first-time director debut movie journey”: the divine vision and impulse the debutant filmmaker gets at the initiation of his craft to bring order to his/her life and times!

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Finding the river that flows in-between!

Sometimes you travel the world but find a place right in front of your house where you feel connected with all the world! I just moved to a new home two days ago in La Condesa neighbourhood in Mexico City, but as I went out of the house this afternoon to have a bite, I found a tapas place right in front of my house and the whole menu of tidbits of tapas seemed to me little tastes of a whole new world that I have traveled in the past 5 years or so in the Spanish speaking world! I just felt home so much so that I started thinking how much time it took me to find my place on earth!

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 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. That’s exactly how you can become someone who gives one thing else more to the world, who can do something more than expected, someone who attains the “awareness of eternity” and becomes in the likeness of God. Once you get there you meet with the One that’s inside of you! You meet with that mind of creation that has shaped you! The One which is in the hidden opens up to you! It’s  indeed not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven.

Because we are so clinched to the visual world, we only live by the cultures. When someone says Christianity, some concepts arise in us like Italy, fanatics, Europe etc. I mean according to whom, according to what?? We never ask this question: “according to whom, according to what?” Our terms of molds and points of views, the sheaths covered upon that, sheaths of cultures.

What does someone like me has to do with all this who offers his life without any prior knowledge of all of this mambo jumbo around this concept?? We don’t even acknowledge this fact! That’s why we have to change our perception of looking at things internally. Not only we do this for our belief, we do this for our nationality, for humanity, for our culture, we do this within subcultures. We do this for our political views, we divide, we divide, we set things apart, we create “the other” in everyone we see, we push them out,… but until when? In the end we’re all going to perish in a 2-foot piece of land.

However the way of the meaning, the way of salvation offered by the Creator in the universe that wonderful functioning of the substance and meaning of our original selves, offers very big changes once we have come to the top of ourselves: changing our perspective of looking at things.

Look, I am here as merely noone, a Turk in Mexico and yet I am so much so connected with my very core of my self as a being that I am at home where ever I go! I have become like water, or air something that everyone needs and shares. To become someone like this needs seriousness in approaching to the Creator . But that kind of seriousness we perceive in certain moulds. That is to say; we think seriousness is not to laugh, to pout, to wear certain clothing etc. But in actuality, it is not attempting to show something in a visual show, but it’s about to become as much as who you really are, to go all the way to find your perfect balance with the universe, to be as normal as possible, to embrace everybody as much as possible, to become the one who gives life, yes just like water and air, to be in the likeness of God has to do with these things. We have to ask this question: where am I and where is the Creator?

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When you take approaching to God seriously you become someone who is able to make these things visible in him/herself out of the invisible. We are generally opening the invisible in the appearance of things. That’s our problem! That’s the problem in all the belief systems!  Once we reverse this process, we become like water or air which everyone needs, but it’s sometimes scarce or invisible as we don’t ask to become someone like these concepts by just being our true selves.

Is the One something that you dress up as a model of god in your head? Or is it the model of a Creator that you cannot see in the universal dimension? We don’t know this. There are so many illusions in us. The sons of Aaron have died when they tried to offer a different offering than what the Creator asked them for. They were burnt once they reached a point which was not described in their job as priests. When you take in more light than you can handle, you burn yourself. You either need to broaden your understanding of things by changing your perspective of looking at things or you won’t get inclined to things which you cannot handle.

 

We say that we have received the eternal life with Jesus Christ. What is eternal life? Is it a later promise of things to come, the expectation of things, or the integration of your perception with eternity that starts in the now and continues developing? We make our choices in the visible world. In the history of Genesis there is a tendency to take the fruits of a visible tree between two trees. One of which is visible and the other invisible. When we take what the visible world offers us, we die. Did they die? Yes, they died metaphorically. They got stuck in the flesh and they died spiritually. That’s what humans are. But if you keep offering yourself, the Creator will manifest itself in you! We have to change our perspective of looking at things. The change of inner perspective signals to the offering. Namely, our main angle of looking at things should be the offering of ourselves. Once you become one with the One, then someone else can follow by your example and become one with him/herself too.IMG-20160416-WA0018

Here in Mexico I offer myself to a great unknown both for Mexican and Colombian and Turkish cultures and yet by this I make something visible in the invisible interplay of these three cultures that share a common misconception of things. And that’s what brought me all the way here to make that story visible for all the world. This service is correction of things, but first after you make your own sacrifices. And I make them both for my culture, for Colombia and for Mexico now. That is what it means “denying oneself, carrying the cross and following Christ” to me.

Making Web Series to overcome “the consciousness block”

My work in my newly started web series “Secret Portal” is more focused on creating awareness in people who don’t have the chance to travel the world, but who have the desire to see it from a different perspective and meaning. I try to bring meaning to traveling and meeting new people and seeing new places.

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Submitting a script or submitting myself to a New Me!?

When I left my home 16 months ago this day, February 24th and set out for a “desert walk”, my aim was to fully live a life just for making movies on the road and nothing else! A life of a devotee for an amalgam of direct cinema and nouvelle vague where I would travel with a story and a script draft I already had, and develop and shape it as I travel through various geographies where ever my own story will take me until I can shoot it and make it real, because how dramatic it may sound, I couldn’t shoot my debut feature in my country, beyond my parents knowledge I probably had become the dream of a higher consciousness in the meantime or my country was captured by aliens.

I had to make this film in a way breaking the barriers and routines of filmmaking which is in fact a very tedious job most of the times and by the time you finish a film you may end up losing track what led you to where you are when you cross the finish line.

The more films I make I realized that they all lead to a more stronger connection to what makes us more genuine and centered as who we really are as human beings. Making indie films after a while becomes like a habitual worship that you do, in a sense, to keep this connection with your core constantly and don’t want to loose it, but the question is: “Is this worship something about what you don’t know yet about yourself or about what you’ve always felt that you knew but couldn’t put it in words, yet?”

Because there are again certain gatekeepers in the mainstream filmmaking and certain rules of the industry that you have to follow, if you want to make a commercial film, but chances are the finished product may not look like what you have initially expected to see. What to do then? You have to take a break to see things in perspective as to what was the reason that resulted to how things are like now in your life. Then you should start walking again as you construe every moment of your walk with a new perception of righteous causes and righteous consequences in mind.

San Pedro de Atacama/Chile

Thus, the dramatic quality of the final version of your script depends on how much drama you can bear in this life to turn your primal cry into a universal dream. But then, the question you should ask yourself is “Does the final product reflect the variety of things and different interpretations that I had no idea of when the initial idea came to my mind?” If your answer is “no”, it means that you have a universal story at hand that is like water or air; not exclusively yours, but something so urgent that everybody needs right now! It means that you made enough effort to integrate yourself with source of the whole universe and were bloody honest not to shade the truth your existence to correct the chaos everybody else is so afraid of doing, because it has always been the toughest and most avoided job in the world.

If you deny the universal law that the sum of all the things – good or bad – will always result in good, you will end up making a lot of effort in trying to stay at the dark side of the moon without being able to see how marvellous the trip to the other side of the moon is where you the real shape of the moon as it reflects the sun in its entirety. We need to take the extra mile to see ourselves reflecting the light in our full form as we unite with our dark side  at some distant part of the world, when we discover that our existence yet unbeknown to us has a very important meaning for someone we haven’t met yet at the other side of this planet. This is our real journey on this life that we can’t avoid, but only deter to different lifetime.

Motorbike tour to the other side of the Tierra Bomba island where you’ll suddenly see Cartagena in the horizon like a mirage of Miami.

Refusal of the “good result of the creation” will lead you to a sense of ineffectiveness and thus, being stuck in the dare measures of some naysayers of the film industry of how films should be done according to the industry standards. But today even 5-6 years old kids know how to use a mobile phone as a camera to make their first experimental shorts at very early age.

Although we live in a time of a very advanced technology where everybody can now become a filmmaker technically. More than technical issues with camera gear and stuff, the very nature of traveling is being in constant motion – physically and mentally, you become aligned with the constant motion of the universe to keep things in one place – even if you decide to take longer breaks at some certain places. Though it has a very positive effect on your story to develop it to the hilt while you start seeing from more different angles as you travel with it, but keeping track of the changes in locations with different gimmicks but similar energies and landscapes reflecting the same initial idea is a common denominator of how crafty you are in adapting your personal story to ever changing environments and conditions as you come close to becoming a highlander figure traveling through space and time.

Bocachica/Tierra Bomba

In respect to truthfully illustrate and maintain the core idea of the story, until very recently the language barrier was an important issue.  I simply couldn’t speak Spanish more than some words or basic sentences. I will never forget the day, when I sat down on a table at a seaside restaurant facing the waves of the Atlantic ocean where I decided to re-write the whole script for South America only to be able to finish it 1 year later at another far end beach in Cartagena/Colombia. By then I was fluently speaking Spanish and could even correct the typos and misinterpreted words of its Spanish translation. I even went further and interpreted the protagonist for a promo I shot for the film which received more than 2500 views in the first 5 days after I uploaded it on Vimeo.

Love in Seven Letters” has been written and re-written in a script development process of seven years zig-zaging between one adaptation to another in the greater Mediterranean area spreading over 4 distant countries in 3 continents. I was finally able to turn my initial protagonist of an disenfranchised underdog of an introverted environmental activist character to a heoric figure akin to a king on exile conquering a lost continent in search of the greatest mystery of his life: his long missing dad!

I had to really know and understand well what I have been worshiping for so many years until I reached the point where I integrated myself fully to what was superior to me until then: I learnt Spanish to tell my own story! The story of my childhood dreams, my debut film to be shot in South America, my new home. That’s what I was trying to do all along as I was traveling all that way up until here: making a New Me without the routines of me!

I had to make long breaks to let go of the negativities that I had piled up without knowing as I was taking things only to make a film, my film, my personal logic. But there was also another logic beyond my “80 square meter logic” of my family heritage. And I ended up developing my protagonist until I converted his actions moving with the logic of the universe. And there things moved in quite a different manner, in a manner of constant giving as you constant keep receiving from the source of what made all the things surrounding me which were once obstacles in my way, now suddenly lifted up as I showed them also how to move mountains to the seas.

Palomino/Tayrona National Park/Colombia

I received an email yesterday in my mailbox for an open call for a script contest at a film festival in Mexico and decided to submit my script as I just finished the last few touches last night. But the funny thing something that I noticed how far I am ahead of myself when I was filling out the application form where one of the standard questions are “the country of origin of the project”, “the language of the screenplay” and “the current address of the applicant”. Still having a Turkish passport and the birth place of the initial idea being Istanbul, “the country of orgin” must still be Turkey. Although the first versions were written in my native language, Turkish, some earlier versions were written in English while traveling and the final version was translated to and re-written in Spanish. And I was applying from Colombia!

I was merely struck by the revelation that how many spiritual re-births and journeys we have to undergo just to be again our original selves. No wonder why Napoleon called Istanbul as the capital of the world, if the world would be one nation. I then realized I was born as a true “citizen of the world” and had become one when I finally clicked that shiny “submit” button last night. I had finally submitted myself.

Colombia, a secret heaven for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear!

I came to Colombia to continue my location scouting and script development of a feature film project that I was developing as I was traveling through South America for a year. In the mean time I finished one hybrid documentary “When the Ants Dream” (Cuando las Hormigas Sueñan) which I had ironically started filming during the manifestations back in Istanbul one and a half year ago under the trees of a park called “Gezi” in the city center to save it from having turned into a shopping mall and which had its world premier in a film festival in the Amazonas (Mica Film Festival/Manaus-Brazil)  in January 2015.  I also started with a new one in Chile and finished filming it in Colombia two months ago which is currently in the post-production.

Geysers in Alto Planos near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Geysers in Alto Planos near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

After a month of traveling in the north coast of Colombia (Cartagena, Santa Martha, Parque Tayrona and Palomino) I came to Cali where I was suddenly welcomed with open arms by a short filmmaker friend, Oscar Hemberth Moreno, whom I had met one year ago in Rio de Janeiro while I was filming the Rio carnival for my previous hybrid feature “When the Ants Dream”.

The poster of my previous film

The poster of my previous film

 

He was a real kindred soul making 8 short films as he traveled South America on bicycle and was also visiting his family here after 2 years. He introduced me to some people from the film industry here and some of them were really helpful in helping me with my current feature film project “Love in Seven Letters”. One of them started translating and adapting my script to Colombia. Others came to help me filming a teaser for the project.

Still other new friends that I met through internet showed great interest in helping me with other needs of the production and offered their expertise and network of friends to even make more contacts for my next feature film project.

So, I then realized that I came to Colombia for a reason: it was my lost paradise now found! At the moment I am trying to set up a team and working program for the upcoming stages of the project and seek to meet new like-minded people to develop and realize this project with these new friends and for these new friends!

Horseback riding on the beach in Palomino/Colombia

Horseback riding on the beach in Palomino/Colombia

I think one finds his/her existence at the point where the mind of the Creator meets its function on earth. Our reason to exist is when the Light embraces your function while you find out your reason to live. I feel like I am falling to a new earth from a new sky and while my body boils into the texture of this new continent found, the hinterland of my existence comes forth to light. I become a new being by leaving behind my comfort zone and embrace infinity by overcoming my finite as I make an offering with my “self” to a higher cause: being “the other”!

Plot Progression Chart for my next road movie is ready!

Aside

So the next and last film on the “Zahiristan-bul” trilogy series will be about one continous love story shot in different places and with differing cast in a world of Dante somewhere in and around Italy. I seek to depict in each film a different part of the Greater Mediterranean. The first two films were about the two extremities of the Mediterranean basin. My hometown Istanbul and some parts of Spain (Andalucia and Barcelona) and sailing the Mediterranean southwest of France.

I believe that by design cinema has a lot to offer in understanding the “other” by evoking our emotions which no other art form can really achieve to this extent. Therefore I want to utilize this medium in re-constructing a new world view where a new form of sensing life is at utmost need in today’s world of collapsing economies and old-fashioned ways of doing things. A new renaissance is at the door!

I am currently making my travel and shooting schedule for 2013 for this new project. As I shot the part taking place in Barcelona of my latest film “The Grenadines Road” where my local hosts were mostly Italians, I want to shoot the last film to this trilogy now in the “Land of Dante”.

I like to work in creative environments surrounded with visionary people who seek to come together and join forces with one single aim to break free from our perceived boundaries of the world as we know it and share this unique vision with similar visionary people to make the light bigger and bigger every day.

I like to develop certain templates that naturally come out in my journeys as to discover and illustrate them at my next port of call. By doing so I feel that my journeys reach the highest level of my understanding of freedom. Including varying cultures and ways of seeing things allows us to create a holistic view of an otherwise dying world view. If our shortsighted eye  is not fed and even healed at times with different perspectives and points of view to the same subject, then it’s not a living organism anymore actually.

Coming from a city like Istanbul where you can get sunsets with differing sensations every time you look at the same vista of the other side (be it arriving there from Europe, or Asia) depending on your gained new perspective of that “other side” on your way home. I want to create the same sensation with an amalgamate of perspectives at one single story form that I created with other two fellow travellers who experienced a life changing phenomenon in their daily lives here in Istanbul which I also experienced during the first film of this trilogy in this city of no ends. I think transmitting this euphoric experience of being born in Istanbul has a lot to offer to humanity in days like this coming to the closure of an age and beginning of a new one.

Therefore I intend to shoot one part of this free-roving trilogy fusion feature film project series again in collaboration with local artists and travelers the same way I did in Spain last year, but this time I have a complete new story form consisting of 4 Signposts and 3 Journeys of whose shoot I plan to make within a time span of 8 months through various parts of this visionary world.

Here is the road map for my next feature! Let's see where I am going to shoot with whom this time!

In this way, I want to map out a spiritual road the same way I did with Cervantes’ Don Quixote’s trail back in Spain and to Yunus (a Turkish poet and mystic).

Making the Impossible Possible: The make-of “The Grenadines Road” – A Case Study

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“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I made this Teaser for the movie today!

I hope you like it, just click the above link!

This journey had really become a manifestation of some sort of spiritual resurrection for me, because if you take on the responsibility of being a director to shoot a  journey like this even  though you don’t have a crew traveling with you or the necessary means to start a project of this scale, then you must believe that miracles are always there for the taking by those who really believe in them.

frame from the film - facing the mountain Sierra Nevada/ Granada

frame from the film – facing the mountain Sierra Nevada/ Granada

And indeed, this film is a sheer miracle of sensing life where ever you may wake up to it. You are there to live it how you choose to live it at that point in time. I was to choose to live it as the Turkish director from Istanbul on tour in Spain and sailing the Mediterranean south of France.

Entering people’s lives as a traveling couchsurfer was my starting point in making short films with these people whose couches I slept on and whose dreams I shared there. Then I would edit these films back to back in a cohesive feature road movie. That’s how I chose the locations of “The Grenadines Road”: by following a spirit of common tastes and looking for similar visionary people out there with whom I happen to be dreaming the same dream  — just wake up in it and realize that we are not as alone as we think we are.

Diogo was my Portuguese flatmate who happen to be an actor also. So I wrote the lead role for him in one of the fiction shorts  "Mañana' mañana" in the movie.

Diogo was my Portuguese flatmate who happened to be an actor also. So I wrote the lead role for him in one of the fiction shorts called “Mañana’ mañana” in the movie.

Things start to take shape as you move on with your dreams in a determined response to what’s really happening to us in our daily lives.

In one chapter of the film I am in Barcelona with a mate from a Chinese junk which is on a multi-year journey through the Mediterranean. I later asked him to play the role of an urban hermit who hosts couchsurfers to find a way out of hıs hometown Barcelona. I was trying to showcase our limited perception of reality by documenting real characters and then casting them in the dramatic roles of their own archetypes.

In another chapter, I am climbing Mount Montserrat with a Spanish fireman who liked to spend his summers in forest fires.

And yet in another I am dead and resurrected as a torero in a cactus orchard in Granada on Good Friday.

The final scene at the park next to the bullfight arena with Jesus Gonzalez and Lucia Moreno

The final scene at the park next to the bullfight arena with Jesus Gonzalez and Lucia Moreno

All of these short stories were written and shot in quite a short period of time with the people who replied to our social media postings, some of whom were even ready to drive to the set with their own cars from cities nearby just to be a part of this unique experience. I wrote the scripts for the shorts mostly out of the need to give an answer to what I was experiencing there as a foreign eye, unable to transmit my perspective due to language barriers which Spanish or French people were so keen on protecting. I guess they had their reasons for protecting the spirit of their flamboyant languages. So I had a challenge to break down these language barriers and give these people a chance to feel the wholeness of life as it initially existed and was meant to be living in its abundance. A new mix of genres of cinema was the only answer! I had to find this hidden language of the Spirit which would surpass all language barriers. This was the story I was talking about in one of the three fictions shorts in this hybrid movie.

As for set design, in one short I used the actual remnants from a house party.

cacoon

In another I used some dragonflies which kept coming to me in various places sitting dead and dried in front of me on the pavement.

As for the costumes, we made our own costumes, like the torero costume with three spears in the back, made with fabric we found in a second hand vintage store and which was embroidered by a very talented local costume designer. Some times there were art collectives who opened their doors and let us shoot some scenes in their locale, or use it as our production office for the time being. We had interns from local film schools and camera crews were assembled by friends of friends whom I became acquainted with during a chat in a tree house or at a warm breakfast table in a hostel.

Some of the best location scouting was done during daily city tours with some Chinese travelers who wanted to scout the area with me and find hidden landscapes.

All in all, this film has been a sheer miracle to show that films are made as long as relationships allow it, and not merely because you have enough funds upfront to shoot it. Just to have some quality time together where you really listen to each other either on a mountain road by day’s end or on your daily watch at dawn on a Chinese junk somewhere in open sea was enough to turn those memorable moments into real life events once you make a film together with these people whom you just met and whom you probably won’t see again in a long time, but will remember each other for the rest of your lives.

Me at the caves in Sacremonte/Granada

Me at the caves in Sacremonte/Granada

The world is out there for us to prove that we exist in it in a meaningful way as a little flock maybe, as someone put it, and that we didn’t come here to suffer because of our misinterpretation of it.

So make it your own and have something to tell people about how the world really looks like from here in its abundance of new life — that’s what movies are all about!

The stories of these films are all dependent on just what bridges you burn in your life to avoid going back to what’s unreal, and to resurrect ın your dreams, which become your new reality.