Pleased to meet you, Sadi Eliyesil. As a filmmaker who studied cinema and lived in New York and Los Angeles, what do you think are the differences between these two cities, in terms of the film industry and the daily life of a creative artist?

Nice to meet you too, thanks for seeing me. The Los Angeles (L.A.) film industry has grown out of the city’s fiber, which has been shaped by the industry, both as the subject of movies and other TV shows, and as a distribution and filming center. People come to L.A. from all over the world to pursue careers in film, so many of the people you meet are also in the running with you. You can either see it as competition and improve what you do, or as an opportunity to seek out potential collaborations. What’s more, L.A.’s filmmaking resources are simply endless. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you deal with what’s in front of you.

New York is a great city, very diverse and compact. It’s certainly more convenient to live there, if you don’t mind cold winters. The independent film and television industry is important here, but not as visible as in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, opportunities abound here, as the market is much less saturated. It also means that it’s much easier to get hired as a director here than in the Los Angeles market.

In my opinion, New York was the ideal place to concentrate and learn. However, when it comes to building a career in film, Los Angeles offers more opportunities and development possibilities. In New York, you may be the only videographer on a project, but in L.A., because more people come together to produce larger projects, you can often meet someone who will help you get contracts in the industry.

You can’t say that one is better than the other; each has its own unique advantages. Ultimately, it all depends on what you want to do in this sector and what your priorities are.

How did the story come about, and what gave you the idea for the plot?

As a film noir fan, I wanted to shoot something that would illustrate my take on the genre. The personal part of the film is about my relationship with my mother, who expected me to succeed. As a son, you always want to say what makes them happy. I combined this personal experience with my fascination for the complex world of the detective genre. I’ve maximized the aspect of the dangerous sacrifices you have to make to succeed.

In our case, the characters bet their lives in a death match to achieve this ultimate success. On the other hand, they are bought to become gladiators, or in this case jesters, there to entertain. I wanted to turn this story into a narrative about how these individuals treat and relate to their loved ones. I found it interesting to show three unique characters, with three different moms, each with a unique approach and reaction to this potentially life-ending struggle.

How did you choose your producer, and how was this first film financed?

My producer Tancy Karat is a classmate from film school. She has produced almost all my films, both commercial and fiction. Over the years, she got to know me well and helped me find the right locations and crews, which really contributed to the overall quality of the film. The film was financed by myself, my family and a few close friends who believed in the project and its likely success at festivals.

Do you have a favorite film genre, and who are your favorite directors?

As I’ve already said, I’m a fan of crime films. A subtle mystery with a hint of violence. I’d say Tarantino, Nolan and Scorsese have influenced me the most. Each has taken a genre, deconstructed it and then reconstructed it according to his or her own vision. I also intend one day to achieve a symbolic style that is recognizable to my audience.

Do you believe that “survival of the fittest” is an exclusively Western idea or value, or do you think it’s deeply rooted in the human psyche?

– In a way, this is the case, even if no women appear in the short film. I had limited resources, and it was difficult to find Spanish-speaking women in Seattle (where the shoot took place) who could act in Spanish with a Madrid accent. This meant I had to modify the story a little to suit what I had at my disposal. However, the story bears the stamp of a remarkable matriarch (Alberto and José’s mother). We can see how much their mother has influenced them, as she is at the center of their psychological intentions, even after her death. Their mother has become more of a side story, but she influences the whole film.

I personally think that Spain and Latin America share the idea that many women are “matriarchs”, as they are seen as the driving force behind many families. The perception that many Latin American women are considered matriarchs can be attributed to several cultural, historical and social factors that are particularly important in these regions. Without going into generalizations, and knowing that not all women fit this description, certain factors such as gender roles, expectations, family-centered societies, the influence of matrilineal societies, the high value placed on motherhood, women’s empowerment, leadership, historical struggles and resilience – particularly in families where the father figure is absent – have contributed to the perception of women as matriarchs in certain communities.

The twins’ session is fueled by this perception. Alberto and José’s mother is an imperfect but very influential mother, as her twin sons seem to appreciate her intentions and do everything they can to get answers from her, even when she’s no longer around.

Abhijit Naskar, author of The film testament, said, “Whatever your genre of choice – romance, comedy, action, mystery, sci-fi or whatever – make sure it dispenses, above all, a dose of everyday human goodness.” Is there a genre to your art?

I think the idea of survival of the fittest has always existed. If we attribute its formal definition to Darwin, it’s a common element found in the rise and fall of civilizations throughout history. What’s different in this day and age is that the modern definition of “fittest” has shifted and changes according to culture.

I wouldn’t say that it’s exclusive to the Western world, but that it’s more widespread there. We’re told we need to be in top shape, whether in terms of health, career or social life. This notion usually creates conflict in stories. To explore this in my film, I contrasted a person with nothing to lose, a rich man and a dangerous man, to determine which value would be the “fittest”.

What challenges did you face as a first-time director, and what did your first shoot teach you that you’ll keep in mind throughout your career?

Taking risks and aiming higher, or being a little ambitious, is a dangerous practice in realization. A single miscalculation can ruin a scene and upset the entire balance of the film. The challenge is to overcome this and adapt: how to limit the damage and protect the integrity of your story. I paid for my production mistakes in post-production. I was patient, worked with the right people, and won awards in respected post-production categories. It all comes down to pencil and paper, when writing the script.

Can you make it happen? If you lose the bet, are you prepared to accept the consequences? As a director, you have to be prepared for unexpected results. Knowing your capabilities is essential. Being patient and constantly working on the project helps to improve results and bring success.

Is your next project already in the pipeline? Can you tell your audience about it?

I’m working on two projects at the same time. I’m working on a scripted, crime-themed podcast with a very promising company here in Los Angeles, Rebel Way Entertainment. I hope it will be out by the end of the year. I’ve also started writing a TV show and am reviewing the feature films I wrote last year. I plan to be back on the festival scene with new projects by the end of the year.

What is your vision of post-Covid cinema? Do you think there will be any major changes?

I think Covid has already had a huge impact on the film industry.

With the closure of cinemas and new regulations, studios have slowed down the production of new films. This has allowed new content to flow in, from independent filmmakers who weren’t held back by these regulations to streaming platforms that have boomed as more and more people turn to home entertainment.

Covid may be temporary, but we can already see the major studios picking up where they left off, and cinemas reopening. For me, the notable change or realization is that we’ve seen that, whatever happens in the world, the film industry will always adapt and improve.



Turkish-Colombian filmmaker Sadi Eliyesil was born on October 10, 1988 in Istanbul, Turkey.

He has lived and studied in Turkey, Switzerland and the United States. After graduating from Bryant University in Rhode Island, he returned to Turkey to pursue a corporate career. After 4 years in the corporate world, he decided to change profession and pursue a career as a filmmaker in the United States. He enrolled in and completed a Master’s degree in Feature Film Development at the New York Film Academy, where he was trained in the writing, directing and production of feature films. He then worked full-time as a video producer for Porsche Downtown L.A..

Alongside his commercial work, Sadi wrote and directed an independent short film, Jesters Paradise, which won 51 awards at film festivals around the world. Following his success at festivals, he was hired as a consultant for Rebel Way Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production company dedicated to the production of feature films, TV shows and scripted podcasts.

ITV 2023

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