Pekin Azer Talks About Side Effect And FIlmmaking

The film starts 3 months in the future. The main character Cem wakes up on the floor in his apartment. He sees the world collapsed and in big shock goes outside to see what has happened. Coming to a hut with locks he quickly unlocks and goes inside... Something trigers Cem's brain and we come back to today. This is the story of Side Effect, a Turkish feature film. We interviewed Pekin Azer regarding Side Effect.

How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?

As i was a student in university i saw my friends working on 3D animation and it fascinated me. I also started learning, but, it was very difficult. This was 1996... As i started learning for about a year i did my first commercial project for a local shop that rented films on vhs cassettes. At the beginning of every cassette they put their intro that i had prepared for them. It was very exciting... Then i started to do animations for the university... I was all computer based. From there i learned vfx and compositing. I worked for Turkey’s biggest production/post-production company using Flame* and a year later i went freelancing. In the field of production as a director i shot my first advertisement film for a fruit juice company in 2008. From there i worked on many projects. My first full length film is “side effect”


What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a filmmaker and why?

I like “clever” films that has a story with a twist. It can be science fiction or comedy or mystery... The most important thing is to forget about daily life and enjoy what the film has to offer. Any film that can do that is a good film for me.


What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker in the film industry?

Ofcourse the first thing that comes to mind is budget. No matter what you film and how you do it, people compare your film with big budgeted films. Maybe my budget would be enough for just 10 or 20 seconds of a blockbuster film. Still people will not really understand that.


How difficult is it to fund indie films?

If you are the producer of that film it’s less complicated... But, if you need to find funding, everyone wants to gain profit and the only thing most people care about are numbers... Yet, any film and every film adds something to the community and to the history of film making. It’s a form of art. A form of expression... Sometimes you will not take back what you have given. If you want to use a cast that is a celebrity then you have a different situation. You need to convince them to be a part of a project. Sometimes the scenario is enough to do that. Also, if you have a famous person in your film, it does help to find investors...


Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?

Stanley Kubrick. For me and for many others, he is a pioneer... His technique for the audience to feel what he is offering is amazing. The fact that he can think fast, change the script right on the spot if needed, yet still manage to be organized in his own way. A perfectionist...

David Fincher. He also has a great mind. A complex structure or a bold style.

Kartal Tibet, a Turkish actor and director. He’s directing has influenced many generations. Always touching social problems and inequalities among classes with a funny and sometimes sarcastic way made him an idol for many, including me.


What inspired you to work on Side Effect and how did the film go into production?

The film is my own project. Took me more than 2 years to complete the script. I was never ready. I always found excuses to postpone. But, one day i knew it was time. With a such a tight budget i had to change the locations. The second part of the film was going to be shot in Bodrum, but, that was going to be more costly than expected so i had to find a location to replace Bodrum that wasn’t so far away from Istanbul. After a short location scouting I decided Mudanya can be a good replacement for Bodrum. Then i gave it start.


How did you find the cast and the crew of the film? Tell us more about the production of the film and working on the set of the film to create this feature.

The cast pretty much was ready in my head. Two things are important, will the actors/ actresses convince the audience and can i work in synergy with them? Some good actors that were already in leading roles on national television series were my friends or i had worked with them before. So i had a list in my head. Almost everyone liked the script and were onboard. Convincing their managers were a bigger task for me.


The set for me was stressful. First feature film with a very small crew. Also, we were using 45 year old Lomo lens converted from oct-18 to PL mounts. It was my own lens set. I love their rendering but, they could have problems any second. I knew how to fix them but, who would want to take a risk like that? I also had to be the art director. Being the producer and the director was also challenging.


What do you recommend to other filmmakers regarding the distribution of independent feature films?

I have to say, do your research and meetings for screening before the production so you will know your options. Maybe you can use an agent for this. Every country has a different system.


Tv distribution is easier. But, to have a strong hand festivals are always important. A film that has an official selection or an award will always be a good candidate.


What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?

My next film project is about a serial killer that is actually a Russian spy.


Why do you make films?

I made my first film and hopefully i will keep on making films, first for myself. I love story telling. I love creating stories in my head and tell them to friends and family. A film is a powerful thing. A platform where you can address problems about anything. Politics, injustice, racism, environment, etc.


© Toronto Film Mag I 2020