Hakan Ünal: “I totally believe that if you are good enough, watching and visualizing a film is the best way to learn how to build a film in your mind..”


By Livia Galluzzi
Hakan Ünal is s Turkish film director, writer, producer and script consultant He finished his degree in screenwriting at University of Toronto in 2002 and started to write short stories. His debut short film ‘Orange’ was selected to many national and international film festivals. ‘His second film ‘Crack in the Wall’ made its world premiere at the 15th edition of Reykjavik International Film Festival. He was selected to the Reykjavik Talents in the same year. His short screenplay entitled ‘The Shell’ won the First International Screenplay Award at the 38th edition of Rhode Island International Film Festival.
His last short screenplay entitled ‘Purgatorio’ won Best Short Script at the 8 th edition of Gulf of Naples independent Film Festival, Best Short Script at the 8th edition of Festival Largos y Cortos de Santiago and won Best International Screenplay Grand Prize at the 40th edition of Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival. His feature screenplay was shortlisted at the 42nd edition of Toronto International Film Festival. He was selected as jury member to the 8th edition of Firenze Filmcorti Festival and 34th edition of International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Iran. He is currently in development for his debut feature film ‘ Leyla’.
When and why did you start writing screenplays?
My path into screenwriting began with watching the films. I started to analyse a film with every single detail. I totally believe that if you are good enough, watching and visualizing a film is the best way to learn how to build a film in your mind. When I discovered it, I started to write screenplays. I did a master’s degree in screenplay writing in Toronto. After I sent my screenplays to the emerging international film festivals, I experienced that all of them were selected and won awards that gave me the strength and confidence of what I was doing. There is no one way to get into screenwriting, but there are three essential steps 1. Educate yourself – there are plenty of books and videos to help you; read lots of screenplays from Oscar, Bafta, Berlin, Cannes, Venice-winning movies and watch lots of films; 2. Write every day and finish three scripts a year; 3. Broaden your mind and enrich your life with travel, reading, studying, learning, meeting new people. These are the things that will feed your imagination


Besides being a screenwriter you are also a director. Do you make films from your own scripts or do you also make them from scripts written by others? Do you also write screenplays for other directors?
I have been writing and directing my screenplays for a long time as an author-director. I am open and interested in making films of other directors on condition that I like the screenplay.


What led you to write Kabuk (The Shell)? Are you planning to shoot it?
The great expressionist and symbolist painter Edvard Munch’s ‘Mother and daughter’ triggered me to think about the core of my screenplay ‘Kabuk (The Shell)’. He expressed his obsessions like chronic illness, sexual liberation and religious aspiration through his works of intense colour, semi-abstraction and mysterious subject matter. The matter of the root of the conflict is the mother whose heart does not recognize that her daughter’s grown and the mother’s failing to acknowledge her daughter’s adulthood finally makes a family rift that has blown my mind. So I started to write the story of Kabuk. I shot this film last month in Turkey.


Do you plan to shoot in Turkey and develop your career in Turkey? How is the film industry in Turkey?
In fact, the sector in Turkey is mostly focused on TV series and commercials. That’s why I don’t limit it nationally while developing my career. Rather, I am working on a conventional career that I will develop internationally.


Name: Hakan Ünal
Screenplay: “Kabuk”