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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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.