2008 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards - Interview - Eset Akcilad


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Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards

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Eset Akcilad
CATEGORY 2 - (Drama)

Runner Up

Eset Akcilad
of Istanbul-Turkey

Eset Akcilad is a 25-year old writer/director native to Turkey. As a result of the passing away of his mother at an early age, Eset grew up in several orphanages across Turkey. From the age of six onwards, Eset went on to win numerous scholarships to fund his education, including receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University.

Eset graduated from Yale University with distinctions in double majors, Film Studies and Economics and wrote and directed numerous short films. Currently Eset lives in London, England fundraising for his first feature length film.

Eset believes everyone has a story to tell but not every story is worth its time.


I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........

when I read a script for the first time. It was then that I realized a film in its totality is present in its screenplay. In other words, I realized that script is film’s backbone and soul, the rest is mere flesh. 


I know I've succeeded........ 

when I put down on paper a story that matters to me.


My inspiration to write FISH.......

is based on a short conversation I had with a random person named Hassan. I helped Hassan push his wheelchair out of Bleecker Street Station, New York and he bought me a cup of coffee. During our half an hour talk I could not get myself to ask him how he ended up on a wheelchair. Fish is my version of Hassan’s story and the answer to questions I could not get myself to ask him. 




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Eset Akcilad:
The early adverse effect of my accent: as a Kurd in Turkey, a Turk in Europe and a Middle Eastern male in United States, I have always had a strong accent in the languages I speak, be it Turkish, English or Swedish. Earlier on in my life I looked on this as a disadvantage because the kids at school would pick on me based on my accent. This forced me to speak only when I had to. Consequently the urge to voice myself made me stand closer to pen and paper. The next thing I knew I was not ashamed of my accent any more and people even liked hearing it. However, I still feel more comfortable and more in control with my pen.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

Eset Akcilad:
I read a lot of scripts, a lot! I read scripts of films that I have already seen as well as scripts to films that were not out yet. However, nothing is as rewarding as reading screenplays of my peers at work and getting them to read my scripts. Through such opportunities, I learn their mistakes and develop my scripts in light of their comments.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Eset Akcilad:
 This is my first feature length script. It took me about two months to finalize the storyline and characters in my mind. The craft side of sitting down and writing the first draft took less than a month. However, after that I wrote a new version almost every week for about half a year.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Eset Akcilad:
Unlike most of my writer colleagues I cannot write in isolation. I have to be surrounded by people and there needs to be plenty of coffee present. So you could say I am among the so called “pretentious crowd” frequenting local Starbucks with his/her Apple computer.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Eset Akcilad:
Definitely. Screenplay competitions can be the best way to take a first step towards the film industry. However that being said, it should always be kept in mind that not doing well in a competition does not necessarily speak to the strength of the product. I read scripts for different competitions in the United States and Europe. Some times I would come across brilliant works with few minor flows. However, these scripts would be turned down by other judges due significance of those minor flows for the judges. Similarly, there have been cases where a script I found poorly conceived and badly executed made it to the final rounds just because certain ideas or scenes would appeal to other judges and strike them as original.

So fellow writers: keep writing!

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards?

Eset Akcilad:
The high ratings and praises the contest receives as well as the prospect of my work being read by individuals in the industry.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Eset Akcilad:
Every aspiring writer or film enthusiast should read scripts to Badlands and Chinatown. The tone, pace and the simple yet profound use of language in these scripts coupled with the well established and ever-evolving characters make them rare works.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Eset Akcilad:
 Photography and travelling. I am a visual person deeply inspired by the unfamiliar. Travelling provides me with the opportunity to have the self-time to polish script ideas while getting to know the characters in my mind.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Eset Akcilad:
Guillermo Arriaga. His storytelling is both genuine and innovative. His persistent use of multi-leveled narrative coupled with the complex characters, that cannot merely be described as heros or villains, is both refreshing and life-like.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Eset Akcilad:
Michel Gondry. Michel takes on the most complex scripts and brings them to life in original ways while staying loyal to the vision of the writers.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Eset Akcilad:
Edward Norton. He is the type of rare talent who dissolves into the skin of characters he plays.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Eset Akcilad:
Never start writing unless you know who you are writing about and where the story is going to go. But most importantly, a good script takes time to write, so the tenth version should be the beginning not the end.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Eset Akcilad:
Currently, I am working on the pre-production of my first feature film. It is a road movie taking place in Turkey. After my European fundraising efforts are concluded, I intend to begin shooting in Turkey.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Eset Akcilad:
Going back and forth between writing, making and watching movies.

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