A Turkish female horror director in America: Özlem Altıngöz
Born and raised in Mersin, Özlem Altıngöz began her film directing training at New York Film Academy in 2016. Throughout her education, she worked as a producer, production coordinator, scriptwriter and assistant director on various projects. Altıngöz has won many awards in many fields with her two short films, titled ”Daughter of the Lake” and ”Birth”. Especially her short film called Birth was one of my horror short favorites with its successful direction and visual effects. I am very proud that such a brave and talented Turkish woman like Özlem Altıngöz achieved this level of success in the U.S.A. I’m sure that her first feature-length film will become a hit. Özlem Altıngöz answered my questions. Enjoy it…
When I was in primary school, I was usually visiting my father’s office in Istanbul and one day I heard a famous Turkish director making a television series in that area. I wanted to watch them, and I got permission from the production team. That day was like a dream. I talked to the actors, I watched the progress of the scenes, and it made me think of being a director. Following this dream, I decided to study on a radio and television program when I was in high school and started taking up theater lessons from famous actors. Thus, I met famous movie stars and they asked me to direct my own movies and this is how my journey began.
Can you tell us a bit about your process of going to the States?
I came to Los Angeles in 2015 because it is the heart of Hollywood and movies. I graduated from New York Film Academy in May 2018. I have a diploma in Film and Fine Arts as well as an associate degree. Currently my film career continues here. I want to be a successful Turkish director having created beautiful projects.
What kind of comparison can you make in terms of working conditions between the U.S.A and Turkey?
There are thousands of people coming from all over the world who want to realize their dreams. Of course, working conditions and order in the States are quite different. Another country, a foreign language, completely different people, experiences, profession, order, plan etc… I need to make an effort to adapt, and I believe that I have succeeded this. I’m still trying to do the best I can. While in Turkey the shooting of the scenes take place day and night, there is a time rule for it in the U.S.A. Everything is planned and organized. The most important characteristic of actors is to always improve themselves. But this situation is not considered much in Turkey. For example, most famous actors and actresses in Turkey have modeling background. On the other hand, this is based on education in the United States and the skills of the actor or actress. There is also an advanced level of technology in America. They are very successful in post production and visual effects.
The first horror movie that I watched when I was a kid was”Friday the 13th”. I really liked it. The story, the visual effects, the exciting thriller scenes had attracted a lot of my attention. I’ve always been interested in the camera since I was a little kid. I always wanted to produce a creative film. I’m scared of blood in real life, but I have always wanted to try producing the blood scenes and those effects in my movies. My favorite horror film director James Wan has produced some major horror films, including “The Conjuring”, “Saw” and “Insidous.” I’ve always followed his powerful ideas. I want to be a director like him. And of course I have some of my favorites; Like “Halloween” The Exorcist â€œ… I also like all the films of Alfred Hitchcock. For creating the best horror scenes in their films…
Is it very difficult to see a female director in the genre of horror? What kind of reservations did you have when you first started?
I live in Los Angeles and I can clearly say that the hardest part is Hollywood film-making rules such as permission, insurance, renting the equipment, and hiring a reliable team. Your budget is the most important thing because you produce your movies thanks to money. You must have a passion to make your dream come true.
I watched ”Daughter of the Lake” and ”Birth” movies. Especially, ”Birth” came to be a work I liked a lot in terms of the direction and visual effects. Could you tell us a little about ”Birth” and why you produced it?
Thank you very much for your comments. When I was a kid, I watched a great horror movie called “Rosemary’s Baby” by renowned director Roman Polanski. I was really impressed by the movie and years later I thought about how I could produce this movie in a modern way, and Birth came out. The process was intense, exhausting and fun. The preparation and shooting turned out to be a great adventure and experience for me.
What are the reactions of the audience and festivals about your movies? What do you learn from them?
I got very positive reactions at film festivals. I saw people really enjoying my films. After the film screening, we did a Q&A and I answered their questions. This film festival is still going on.
Could you tell us about your future plans? Do you plan to return to Turkey for example?
I want to plan a feature-length horror/slasher film. We are currently in the process of working with Scott Lobdell, the author of the famous Hollywood horror film “Happy Death Day”. The scenario work will be carried out soon. I will produce my own work using my creativity at a high level! I’d say there’s definitely going to be a lot of blood in the film. I travel to Turkey twice a year. Because my family and my close friends are there. I’m an independent filmmaker. I want to produce films in Turkey, America and Europe and represent my country proudly as a young director.