Even animals have their secrets.
Interview with Director Mert Berdilek
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! Crossfire was a project that was born out of a constant discussion with my co-writer & Director of Photography, Alper Kasap. We were exploring how we can push & change the form of a narrative short film, without having to dampen our ideas, deconstructionism & the extrapolation of the human condition. Having these elements in mind – the appetite was to explore the nature of violence, simmering in the suburbs of Australia. And how choices, benign or focused – cast a wake that ensures the perpetual nature of chaos.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
That’s an interesting question, honest answer; I don’t know. There is a common theme that runs quite strongly with the filmmakers I’ve admired throughout my cinematic upbringing, and without consciously adopting their thoughts – I believe people who decide to embark upon this journey of filmmaking, introspectively come to terms with more or less the same thing; you make the film for yourself – first & foremost.
You create a narrative work of fiction to iron out your own thoughts, ideas & philosophical disposition. It’s your own intellectual, emotional & spiritual laboratory – the end product is completely unique to yourself and is an extension of yourself. With that philosophy in mind, I don’t know if you would use adjectives to whet the appetite of an audience into watching a film or not. All I can say is that you create a piece from yourself, for yourself. And if it resonates with a collective, then you have poignantly imbued a sense of universality into the project – which of course is gratifying for an artist. However if not, you as an artist & your co-artists should still mature & grow from the experience. Crossfire may not appeal to all audience members, but for the ones that it does – hopefully, they will understand why we embarked upon the project & perhaps appreciate it.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I feel all films are personal films or should be. They are all a by-product & excrement of your psyche. Sure in Crossfire there are moments when people could say that we were consciously exploring; Freud’s libidinal, death drives & object relations theories. Or that the whole film is an allegory on conception & how the violence seen in biology transcends the microcosm and is equally inescapable in the macrocosm of nature. Yet in reality these are all subconscious notions that flow onto paper, then into the performances & cinematic architecture – which sow a personal & unique seed in each viewers mind.
All personal artistic explorations are also human explorations – so in essence, universal thematic lattices form organically due to the circular nature of that concept. But it’s interesting you ask of personal & universal themes. I’ve always toyed with the idea of the great internal metaphorical civil war of subjectivity & objectivity. At this stage in my life – I’ve come to a singular understanding that it’s a harmonic, in-fact symbiotic relationship between those thought processes. Crossfire itself is a fugue between chaos & choice, and the inherent paradox in that pairing.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Drastically, the creative process is something truly enlightening. As a human being, you begin formulating a story, with a certain narrative, yet as the story develops & begins to grow organically it matures in many meaningful ways. Your quest, of trying to extrapolate & understand the human condition through the medium of a film, allows you – the filmmaker, to extrapolate & understand your own subconscious underpinnings.
What are you really made of? How does your mind truly operate? What are your core artistic virtues? What mask from your psyche are you truly wearing, or not wearing - every day? There is a certain veil you wear-every-day in your life, without even being truly aware of it. You operate and navigate due to social setting & self-preservation without really understanding who you really are – yet only during this creative endeavor, you become the gatekeeper of your own artistic reflection.
I’ve understood that the creative process, the story you’ve been working on - is the Rosetta stone for your soul & mind. So I’ve learnt to embrace the evolution of the film. You might watch the film & go back to that first draft and not recognize a thing – but that’s part of the beauty. And that’s what happened with Crossfire. Our initial musings have morphed into something quite different. I always use this analogy to explain: the entire spectrum of the creative process is like brewing tea. You let the tea leaves brew for quite some time in the boiling water & then hope to drink it – yet if you tasted the tea leaves on its own, it would be bitter & not quite like that tea in the cup. You need to embark upon the brewing journey, just like embarking upon the filmmaking journey – to truly digest it.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I keep hearing the same term: “intense”, it might also be a polite way of saying they disliked it! - but in all seriousness, the reception has been relatively positive thus far. People have ingested the film differently which is always very interesting & valuable. It’s currently on its way into the 2019 festival circuit – so I’m keen to see how it performs with festival audiences.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Surprising for sure, I’m naturally self-effacing in the sense that I doubt my output immensely & tend to live within the parameters of my own mind. With Crossfire, because of the wide array of different interpretations observed, and the varying ideas and themes trickling across to an audience - It’s been really fruitful for me to understand it’s a collision with a broader landscape & the tangent vectors created in that process.
One thing that has really surprised me is that in some situations, people who have watched the film – didn’t really know what to make of it. Then a few days later, or a week later, I receive a phone call from that very person that opens with: “You know… I’ve been thinking about Crossfire-“, that opening line has always made me happy.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Really hoping that stories such as Crossfire have the right platform to be recognized in Australia & not be lost in all the noise that exists in this digital age. I believe in societal therapy through showing a mirror of the heightened reality of mankind’s imperfections. Altruistic platforms such as www.wearemovingstories.com have the ability to reach those Australian & International audiences, who are interested in nuanced stories that aren’t fearful to explore the ideas that are usually not spoken on the dinner table.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
The film was self-funded, by both Alper & myself. I think it’s important to recognize, that when you have made a film on your own terms – with your own resources, you can only take the film so far. Yet if you have a larger human collective supporting the project, it enhances the value of the social capital of the project just by the nature of the audiences you’re able to reach. In terms of assistance – I naturally would love to call on all of the above;
Sales Agents, Buyers, Distributors, Film Festival Directors, Journalists – I would want Crossfire to be seen by as many diverse audiences as possible around the world
Producers – Funding, networking support & co-collaboration for future projects is a necessity to make films sustainably to enhance our social capital through producing more art.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Ultimately I want it to incite reflection on those who have seen it – I don’t want it to be a linear experience on & off the screen.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Can chaos, ever be controlled?
Would you like to add anything else?
Only that I wanted to thank my cast & crew for being unified, dedicated & walking with solidarity when making Crossfire. I hope all their tireless efforts find it’s a way to audiences who also have the same reciprocal appreciation.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Currently, we have a very exciting project that myself & Alper Kasap are working on:
The Fall (السقوط) – A Syrian mother, who upon fleeing from Aleppo to Australia faces an unforeseen tragedy in her new home. The project deals with mental health, motherhood, assimilation, isolation, loss & faith.
We are also actively looking for industry support & creatives to collaborate with for this project for a 3rd Quarter 2019 shoot.
Interview: May 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Even animals have their secrets.
Director: Mert Berdilek
Producer: District Films
Writer: Mert Berdilek & Alper Kasap
About the writer, director and producer:
MERT BERDILEK is a Turkish-Australian writer/director based in Melbourne, Australia. Being a student of cinema from a very young age, Mert's journey into the artform of cinema was comprised by witnessing films from filmmakers such as; Kubrick, Tarkovsky, Melville, Bergman, Kurosawa, Kobayashi & more during childhood. Through an introspective adolescence, the appetite to contribute back into the artform that helped form his philosophical disposition became stronger throughout his formative years. Mert's debut short-film Crossfire is a suburban Australian character study which will be featured in the festival circuit of 2019.
DISTRICT FILMS is an independent motion picture production company based in Melbourne, Australia. Founded by Alper Kasap and Mert Berdilek it operates to develop and produce human stories that further contribute to the artform of cinema.
Key cast: Sal Galofaro ( Zechariah ), Eugenia Rahi ( Daniela ), Ron Jacobson ( Graham ), Rowan Howard ( POlice Offcier ), Kieran Cochrane ( Young Boy )
Looking for: sales agents, distributors, journalists, film festival directors, producers, buyers
Facebook: Mert Berdilek
Hashtags used: #crossfireshortfilm #crossfire #alperkasap #mertberdilek #shortfilm
Made in association with: District Films
Funders: Self Funded
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Crossfire is currently in consideration for most of the major film festivals such as Venice, Austin, Miff, Toronto, New York and many more. Stay tuned accross all our social media platfroms for more information on festival screenings.