Filmmaker in the Spotlight: An Interview with Gazanfer Biricik
Gazanfer, thank you so much for chatting with us! Tell us about your journey in film. What were some of your early steps into the filmmaking world?
Thank you too ! I have liked writing poems and stories since I’m eleven. In a way, I was always attracted by cinema to give life to the universes I created in my subconscious. First, in order to play in my scripts, I attended lessons in an acting studio from the beginning of 2011 till the end of June 2011 in Acting International in Paris. In order to see another side of acting, I Knew I needed theater lessons as well, so I took them from september 2011 to the end of september 2012. This allowed me to improve my screenwriting, my speech & my staging because I played one year in “sold out” plays in Paris. After that experience I needed to practice & improve my acting in front of the camera, that’s why I decided to follow Jerome Genevray’s lessons from october 2012 till march 2014. I played in more than 20 shorts during this time. This helped me to master the game, the behavior, and the positioning that the actor must adopt in front of the camera, which is essential for directing an actor. This experience helped me understand the psychology of actors during training sessions and then on set. Luc Besson’s Masterclass in June 2014 permitted me to know that I want to be a director. This session also changed my view of directing.
You have an impressive background of acting training. How does it come to play in your directing? Do you find your acting background useful when working with talent on set?
My background of acting is very useful, because that helps me to understand the psychology of an actress or an actor during the set. Some scenes are so intense sometimes it is difficult for them to act it out. Then my experience helps me to direct the actress or actor because I can understand why they're emotionally stuck in a scene. It helps me fix it. This is how I promote a psychological approach.
Do you have a filmmaking role model? Who is your biggest influence?
I can’t talk about filmmaking without quoting Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, George Lucas, Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott or James Cameron, all are & were the best in what they do and they did. I can say, with Luc Besson, they are the ones who inspired me in my work. Luc Besson has a special place for me because I had the chance to be in his masterclass in 2014. As I said, his advice really changed my view of filmmaking. It helped me to improve. But all these filmmakers inspired me in all my works.
Your short film, GAB, which you wrote and directed, had a very successful run in the festival circuit! Can you tell us about it?
Yes, of course. Ani is a journalist whose career is not very flourishing. However the director of the publication of his newspaper decides to entrust to her the writing of an article on a person dead during an attack. To do this Ani decides to meet Lily, the sister of the deceased, in a bar near Pigalle. She arrived a few minutes before Lily and moments later a young man named Gabriel came near her and claimed to be one of Lily's relatives. Ani, interested, decides to ask him a series of questions in order to complete her article. However, they have differences of opinion which disconnects Ani and makes her ask questions about this young man. Against all odds during this conversation, an event happens that will not leave her indifferent.
GAB presents its audience with fascinating spiritual themes. What inspired you to write and make GAB? Are there any special meanings to the characters’ names?
What motivated me to write and direct GAB is especially the events that affected France since January 2015 of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. It was an attack against freedom of expression, and for us artists it is like the air we breathe, without freedom of expression we cannot work.
Also seeing the amalgams around these events, I decided to write something who could refocus the West on its real values, ones of freedom, respect & cohesion. To develop this theme I needed a common symbol who united everyone and the only one I found was the Tree of Life that is present in all beliefs.
This symbol’s values are so huge that to talk about it was enough to reach my goal.
That symbol helped me to expose philosophically one of the biggest problem in those days, terrorism. It also helped me to take care of the different points of view which allowed me to reach a balance, a conclusion that I was hoping everyone would agree.
It’s important to know that being aware of a problem may not help to avoid the consequences but can avoid the worst.
Yes the names have a special meaning. Ezra is the one who helps to give a message to people about a tragic event, an event in which he is the victim, but he needs to give this message with the innocence of an angel, Grabriel who is the bearer of the message, this universal message contained in the tree of life. Ani even though at first she is reluctant, she will become the one who will gracefully deliver that message, which is difficult to carry. Lily’s innocence, purity, the message passes indirectly through her, she is the reason for Ani's presence there this day.
What was your favorite part in the process of making GAB?
It was at the time of the investigations, when I discovered that most of the victims had no anger towards what the media stigmatized. On the contrary, they have the strength of not mixing things up. I don't know where they get this strength from, but it's something powerful and moving.
What were some of the challenges you faced in the process of making this film? How did you overcome them?
The biggest problem was funding. At the beginning I tried to find producers but as in France the subject is delicate, I had very little feedback and no support. The film deals with a sensitive subject in France. The only solution was that I found this film through sponsors and on my own. I invested myself, my body and my soul in this project which is close to my heart. I produced this film with my heart.
What message do you wish the audience to take away from GAB?
GAB is each of us, we want to live in peace, in cohesion, in life, but we sometimes have trouble expressing it, sometimes we can't find the right words. GAB try to give a simple message, forget the prejudices, go to each other, get to know each other. We all have one thing in common: the universal values conveyed by the Tree of Life who is present in all cultures!
What did you learn from the experience of working on this film?
It's hard to get a message across when people aren't ready for it. Sometimes you run into prejudices and misunderstandings. Redemption is also asking what is wrong with us and not always blaming the other.
We heard you have some exciting new projects in the works! Would you mind telling us about your short film KATRINA and your new feature film BREAK IN POINT?
Thank you for asking me about these projects.
First KATRINA is a very committed and sensitive short film project that talks about rape, identity crisis, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), & LGBT couples. In the beginning I wanted only to talk about rape, but in my investigations I saw the subject is larger than it appears. I should note that very few filmmakers deign to tackle these themes because, it must be admitted, it remains taboo with the breasts of a part of society. It is important to talk about it because this burden spares no one, regardless of their social class, culture or origins.
BREAK IN POINT is a feature film project of about 120 minutes that talks about addiction. This is a Sci-Fi in which during a new universal process against addiction, will project a former celebrity into parallel worlds. One being the real world and the other the fruit of its treatment. In this project I am still dealing with a great problem that is really debated: drug addiction. Even if "Requiem for a Dream" directed in 2000 by Darren Aronofsky speaks of the psychological aspect of this plague, in this feature film I try to bring a fantastic touch that could make people more aware of this social problem. I hope to find producers to bring this important project to life.
What is the plan for these new projects?
For KATRINA, I am working to find producers. Precisely on this subject, I will be present at the Cannes Film Festival from 6th july to 17th July to present KATRINA to producers. This short film will allow me in the first place to expose my universe and especially in what kind of cinema I am involved in, the cinema which speaks about important subjects of our society.
KATRINA is off to a good start, nevertheless I hope that this short film will see the light of day because it is really worth it.
For the feature film BREAK IN POINT, I need to show the public the fantastic universe I want to bring to the screen. If this project pleases and attracts the attention of a large audience, it will allow me to develop my other projects with large producers.
Did the 2020 pandemic affect these productions at all?
Absolutely, It was so hard to produce or find people to go on. Each time we thought that the pendulum was out of breath, we found ourselves with a new "confinement". But what can be done before it is important to fight the virus to stay alive. I hope that from June 2021 things will evolve in the right direction.
What is something you wish you knew before getting into filmmaking? Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers around the world?
How wonderful this world is, because the cinema is a wonderful universe. We meet people from all walks of life, from all cultures. We exchange our points of view, our ideas, our perceptions, our ambitions and sometimes when the affinities are created great friendships are created and endure.
If they want to make cinema, they must be passionate about humanity, because cinema is an intermediary, it makes it possible to embellish the world with the ideas that we convey there. This area is complicated but you must never give up, you must always persevere. Nothing is rosy because it is a very competitive field and many will try to cut you off, but never give up; it's the difficulties that make you stronger. Even if you are harmed, do not respond with evil, let us be very humble, ignore them and continue your way. Dishonest people never win, even if they think they have won why are they constantly unhappy? Be good, collect the positive energies, and you will see everything will be fine!
The goal of cinema is not fame. Success is the result of a wonderful work who talks to the public with its words. If you're sincere, and you get to see the audience, they'll see you too. The filmmaker has to be, in a way, the spokesperson for the public.
Help make the world a better place with your works!
If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?
I would like to work with the greatest of our time because they are all exceptional. I have so much respect for all of these great directors to pick one. But it is true that my field of predilection remains Sci-Fi because through it you can convey difficult messages without offending the public.
Where do you see yourself in the future - will you focus on directing, writing, or both?
I want to write and direct, and I would like to bring a work that could be timeless and that would allow all generations to make it a reference.
Cinema must help make the world a better place, I hope that one day I will be able to leave an imprint that will allow it.
Help our readers keep track of your career and tell us where we can find more of your work :)
Thank you for asking me, you can follow me using the following links:
Submit your film/screenplay: https://filmfreeway.com/ny