Gokhan Tiryaki on Working with Palme d’Or Winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland — Working with one of Turkey’s most eminent helmer/scribes, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, does not necessarily mean working with much of a budget.

But, as cinematographer Gokhan Tiryaki put it at a conference on his filmmaking with Ceylan at Poland’s Camerimage fest, the director “works in the subliminal space.” Known for his explorations of existential themes, brooding static shots and glacial pans, the Palme d’Or-winning Ceylan makes it seem to Tiryaki when working on any other set that “nobody is doing anything.”

It’s not always easy working for an established art photographer, writer and actor, Tiryaki admits. And the prep process takes months, filled with long deliberation about color temperature, the atmosphere that the Anatolian landscape must emanate, the script — crafted with Ceylan’s wife, Ebru — and which performers can render it best.

After that, the D.P. treks to the rural setting with Ceylan and the two of them run through the dialogue together in front of cameras, making tests. “That’s very funny,” says the diffident Tiryaki.

During the shoot for “Winter Sleep,” the gorgeously filmed story of a former film star now in his sunset and caught in a moral dilemma, the pair decided that the depopulated mountain country should take on a cold, snow-blown look. Making use of available light whenever possible, now and then resorting to day-for-night created in post to render a liminal moonlit effect, Tiryaki describes long but unhurried work days in which the team jointly explored the boundaries of characters, dialogue and light.

Popular on Variety

“He usually has an idea what kind of picture he wants,” the cinematographer says, but Ceylan remains open to new possibilities in staging, performance and script. “He has no fixed idea about anything.”

Although every line of the script is carefully constructed, as in Ceylan’s previous arthouse noir hit, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” actors are encouraged to improvise new lines if they feel the urge. Now and then, the director will accept one of these changes, Tiryaki says.

The strategy is not based on any insecurity about the written dialogue, the cinematographer says. “He just wants to be sure nothing better comes up.”

Unlike many cinematographers, Tiryaki is happy to rework the footage extensively in post. “You cook the meal in post. If you try to cook the meal on set, you can’t change it in post.”

Ceylan wants his cameraman deeply involved in sound too, bringing the footage to a new dimension. That may mean the lonely echo of a distant dog barking or the breathing of horses in a wintry field.

“I see working with him as a school.”

More Artisans

  • George MacKay as Schofield in "1917,"

    '1917,' 'Jojo Rabbit' and 'Parasite' Lead Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “1917” continued its award-winning streak on Sunday night when it took home the feature motion picture – dialogue award at the MPSE Golden Reel Awards, recognizing outstanding achievement in sound editing. Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” won for feature motion picture – music underscore. The Golden Reel Awards presented prizes in 23 categories encompassing feature films, [...]

  • Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: ENDGAME..Tony Stark/Iron Man

    How 'Avengers: Endgame' Publicity Team Made Headlines By Saying Nothing At All

    Secrecy and strategy were fundamental when it comes to marketing the MCU films. After 14 years and 22 films, those two factors were crucial when it came to planning the rollout for the final installment,  “Avengers: Endgame.” Earlier this week, the publicity team behind the film’s campaign was nominated for the ICG Publicist Awards. Union [...]

  • The Farewell Movie BTS

    Academy Falls Short on Diversity, but Foreign Films Crash ACE Eddies Party

    The American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards, which will be handed out Jan. 17, will for the first time give voters a choice of selecting a foreign-language film in each of the three categories. The trio in contention are: “The Farewell” (comedy), “Parasite” (dramatic) and “I Lost My Body” (animated). “This is the first time in our [...]

  • Best Documentary Scenes from 2019

    Directors Describe Their Key Scenes in the Past Year’s Top Documentary Films

    The directors of this awards season’s documentary hopefuls explain the ticking hearts at the center of their shortlisted films. Apollo 11, Director: Todd Douglas Miller  Setting the Scene: The pre-launch sequence for the first mission in which humans landed on the moon, featuring NASA workers and regular citizens alike. “It encapsulates everything and highlights a lost [...]

  • Paris Recreated for Movie Productions on

    TSF Recreates Paris on Former Air Base for Movie and TV Shoots

    As French outfits move to expand their studio offerings, industry eyes have turned to a 20-hectare stretch of land 20 miles south of Paris. There, in the commune Plessis-Pâté, sits the TSF Backlot 217, a converted air base that has become one the Gallic industry’s banner initiatives. One of France’s leading production suppliers, TSF scoped [...]

  • DSC07163.ARW

    Streamers Urge French Production Sector to Go Green

    For the French industry, the drive to open up additional studio spaces has gone hand-in-hand with the push for green production, because for the most part, they share the same root cause: The international streamers that are causing a surge in audiovisual production tend to have strict criteria when it comes to sustainable development. “Companies [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content