Fantastic Fest 2019 Interview – THE ANTENNA director Orçun Behram

“The Antenna is a surreal nightmarish journey about an apartment being slowly possessed by an antenna.” Director Orçun Behram on THE ANTENNA which screens at Fantastic Fest 2019! 

Congratulations on your film playing in at Fantastic Fest this year! Is your first time at FF and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Yes, it is my first time in Fantastic Fest. It is absolutely great to be here and  I will be attending both screenings.

So how did you get into this movie-making business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.

I started making movies at a very early age. I used to make short little cheesy horror movies as a teenager. Then those horror films turned into experimental shorts and I had a bit of an exposure in film festivals of Turkey. This eventually led me to studying film. After graduation most of my work have been documentaries. THE ANTENNA as the first feature happened to be realization of a long lasting dream. 

How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!

The initial idea began a long time ago, I made a short film called COLUMN that was on the philosophy of simulacra. The relationship between the imagery and the reality has been a very intriguing concept for me. Simulacra is a very pessimistic interpretation and I think it has the right dynamics for a horror film. In the meantime there has been a huge rise in authoritarian politics around the world and media was being used as a manipulative tool to control the masses. In combination of these two ideas, I started writing the film which took me about two years to complete. The project was very difficult to make for Turkish standards, so without being able to find any producers. I had to invest in the film myself. So we started a film with very low resources that had tons of production and set design. Shooting was extremely difficult, we were finding most of the props from junkyards and building everything out of scratch in an abandoned post office. Then once shooting was over, there was pretty much no money left. So we had to wait almost a year to edit the film. Feels incredible getting here from all the obstacles we faced along the way.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

I love every part of it. It is an amazing feeling finding an idea for the first time when writing a script. Then with collaboration of cast and crew, another version of that idea turns into reality during the shootings. it is a great joy watching it happen behind the monitor. It is fantastic to have input from cast and crew. And once the movie is completed, you get to travel with your baby that you nurtured for so long. There are many stressful moments along the way but i think all combined it becomes addictive. It is also a job where you can focus on something super deeply for a long while and then leave it behind eventually. I think this is something that keeps people motivated, in film you almost always have a proper closure for your efforts. 

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

To be frank, each shooting day started with a massive challenge. I don’t remember a day of shooting that went smoothly, there was always some problem solving needed. I think the worst one was the boiler room scene though, the walls we built couldn’t hold the water due to pressure. Then entire set was flooded, including sets we built for other scenes. I thought there was no way to complete the film anymore. The shooting stopped and we were all carrying sandbags to stop the leakage.  I had to re-write that scene on the spot and we shot the entire thing in 45 minutes which was supposed to be a 9 hour shooting. The reward was all the way at the end, in the editing room, when i saw that it actually worked out. 

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

We shot the film with Arri Alexa and anamorphic lenses. Our DP, Engin Özkaya, was absolutely fantastic to work with in every way. We met each other through a common friend and had great communication throughout the film. I was decisive on having stationary shots most of the time with beautiful framing. I wanted to build a world almost like in comic book aesthetics. Each frame would tell the story through placement and lighting. And characters would be prisoned within frames. Engin has an absolutely great eye and vast knowledge in cinematography so he did an amazing job turning all these ideas to reality. 

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences here in Austin?

It is my debut film and second festival. So this is all very very new to me,  it is a strangely beautiful feeling showing your film. The Fantastic Fest crowd is great and i hope they do enjoy the film. 

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

There are two more festivals on the line right now, Sitges and BFI London. After that i am hoping for a longer run in the festivals and eventually theatrical release. 

If you could show your movie in any theatre outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

Süreyya movie theatre in Istanbul. It is where i saw a film in a theater for the first time and it is a gorgeous place. It would be really exciting to see my own film there. The stage is now turned into opera house though, so it is an impossible quest. 

All of Fantastic Fest is taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse, which is famous for enforcing its no talking or texting policies. What would you say to someone who was being disruptive through a movie?

It is really not cool and I appreciate Alamo policies. 

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

I don’t think I am experienced enough to really show the ropes. But from my own personal perspective, I would say shoot a lot of things and collaborate with others. Shooting keeps you motivated and gives you exposure even if there is no budget work. Collaborations with the right people push your ideas forward and eventually those connections would be a big help to get into film business. Starting as an assistant in the department that you want to excel is also always  a great method for learning and meeting people. 

And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?

This is an impossible question  for me to answer. In most cases I can’t think of films as being better than one another. Each great film satisfies different aspects.  Although i can say that NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and HELLRAISER has a very special place in my heart.

Fantastic Fest takes place from September 19th to 28th. For more information on this film and the many others playing in Austin, TX, point your browser to www.fantasticfest.com!

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