Lutfu Emre Cicek – Istanbul, Turkey
BlueCat: Why did you start writing screenplays?
Lutfu Emre Cicek: My first job on a film set was as a production assistant on a low-budget horror movie shot in New York City. When I saw the finished product for the first time, I can honestly say it was one of the worst movies I had ever seen. I was not allowed to watch the scenes being filmed but I had gotten to meet and work with a lot of talented crewmembers and actors, all of who seemed more than capable of producing great work. That was the moment when I realized, first hand, that the success of any film relied for the most part on the screenplay. In my spare time I started reading a lot of already produced scripts and eventually writing became a priority in my endeavors in film.
BlueCat: What is your highest screenwriting goal for yourself?
LE: The biggest goal I set for my writing is to be able to create melodramatic horror stories. I try to introduce compelling but somewhat hysterical characters, whose journeys may culminate in violent climaxes. If, in the future, I can seamlessly weave together these genres and write work that will not only generate interest but also add a new twist to familiar themes, I will have done my job well.
BlueCat: What aspects of the writing process do you struggle with the most?
LE: I have a particularly hard time editing down my descriptions. When I imagine the characters in their setting, I picture the facial expressions, body movements, the clothes, lighting, everything down to what might be going through their heads and it becomes very hard for me not to write all of it down. As much as I try to pull back and let the characters’ actions dictate the mood and their emotions, the script feels barren and incomplete without detailed description.
BlueCat: What movies do you watch to remind yourself that you love screenwriting?
LE: I like watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Rosemary’s Baby and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, all of which are movies that effectively combine humor, drama and horror. The Hours is the movie that I have seen the most times and I like reading the screenplay for Far From Heaven whenever I need the inspiration to write.
BlueCat: What do you feel you do well as a screenwriter?
LE: I am constantly drawn to villainous or damaged characters as my protagonists that some people might not find likeable. I pull from my darkest thoughts and fears when I create these characters and I constantly feel for their past, their pain and suffering that led to their breakdown. In doing so I think that I am able to successfully guide the audience through the story as it unfolds from the characters’ perspectives. They might not sympathize with the character but they will understand their choices as vile as their actions may be.
BlueCat: Do you feel that screenwriting is different in your country than it is in Hollywood? If so, how?
LE: Turkey has produced a number of great dramas and comedies in the recent years but there is a clear lack of originality in the limited number of horror films that have been made, almost all of which use religious themes and supernatural beings to create the suspense and fear, with little attention to establishing strong characters and scenes. I believe this has made horror films and scripts less credible in the Turkish film industry even though in Hollywood it remains a profitable genre.
BlueCat: What screenplay have you written which you feel most proud of and why?
LE: I feel most proud of my screenplay What Ever Happened to Barbara Brown?, which was the first feature screenplay I have ever written. In fact, BlueCat was the first competition I submitted it to. I am especially proud because I was able to take the feedback from various sources and work tirelessly for a year, entering each new version into different competitions, and improve the story and my writing skills up until the final draft. Since BlueCat, it has won the Atlanta Film Festival’s screenplay competition, was selected as a top ten semi-finalist in Showtime’s Tony Cox screenplay competition and is currently a quarter-finalist in Final Draft’s Big Break contest (results pending) among placements in other smaller competitions. It is still a work in progress and will remain so until it is sold and produced, however I am extremely happy that my first screenplay performed as well as it did.