We interview Elifcan Yazgün on the short film ‘Cosmos With Venus’.
Cosmos with Venus follows the story of Eren, a young Turkish girl who is about to get asked for her hand in marriage. Something is holding her back, however. An unresolved issue from her past, a journey she takes with the help of Venus, the goddess of love.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Elifcan Yazgun, and I am a filmmaker from North London. As a child of Turkish immigrants, I found it a constant challenge trying to navigate the world whilst also keeping my cultural traditions in mind. My work tends to be focussed on that in-between space within two cultures that many ethnic youths tend to get stuck in whilst being raised in London, or any other western city.
What inspired you to do what you do?
Growing up, we used to watch a lot of old Turkish films in the house, because my parents couldn’t understand English really well. Some of my favourites came from the classic ‘Yeşilçam’ era of the 1960s. I also love a good old fashioned coming of age story, and my work tends to be a combination of these two very different types of cinema. I wanted to create stories about young women, whether they are Turkish or of other Middle Eastern descent, and how their culture, religion, and traditions play a part in the way they experience their teenage years. My biggest inspiration comes from stories of real women from my life, and the small trials and tribulations they face in their daily lives.
What was the biggest challenge when creating this film?
The biggest challenge whilst making Cosmos was trying to find Turkish communities and actors within London that could potentially help in the making of the film. As Turks are not represented on the screen that much, it’s really hard to find artistic collectives or individuals, because films like Cosmos are not a very regular occurrence! But Gracie, our producer, worked extremely hard to reach out to Turkish groups and organisations, and once they knew about what we were making, everyone that we talked to was incredibly supportive and accommodating because they were happy to see a project that portrayed their culture in a personal and accurate way.
What was the funniest thing that happened on set?
I think the funniest thing was actually on the last day of filming. We were filming a Halloween party scene, and it was a freezing cold February night shoot, so after every takes, we would send our actors inside for a few minutes to warm up. When we shot the final shot, Nabila, our DoP asked me if I was happy with it. I looked at her and said ‘Yeah I guess we are done?’, and we both started bawling our eyes out whilst everyone started to clap and cheer for the wrap (and the fact that they could finally go inside). For the rest of the night, we would just randomly start crying because we couldn’t believe months of hard work had finally come to an end.
What are some of the highlights/successes you’ve had most recently?
I think one of the biggest highlights for me right now has been the development of the script for my new short film. Even though I haven’t been working on films right now due to the pandemic, having some time off has really allowed me to listen to my creative intuition, and I think my next film will be a very intimate and personal story that I know many other young women could relate to.
What’s next for you on your journey?
Right now my main focus is to carry on creating and to expand my network so that I can make films with other talented diverse creatives. My long term goal is to write an anthology-style series about youth in London and have each episode be a new person, story, and adventure. I want to start showcasing the stories that you might not have seen on the screen yet, and hopefully, they will resonate with other POC youth that may have not felt that connection from cinema before.
What would be your advice to other young film makers?
Don’t ever doubt your talent. I wasted too much time thinking that I didn’t know enough, or I didn’t have enough experience, etc etc. As a filmmaker you are going to constantly find yourself learning new things as you go, trust the process and trust your creative intuition. Just focus on yourself, your artistic voice, and work hard with people who you think you can create great art with. And I think the best art tends to come from a place of honesty, so try to create things that are authentic to you and your style!
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