5 CENTURIES LATER 4 SEASONS IN ISTANBUL FROM SINAN'S MINARETS
Time Lapse Documentary, 16' 18" , 2015,
as PROJECT DEVELOPER, DIRECTOR, DoP
Director & Producer & Project Designer
Director of Photography & Editor
Colorist & Online Editor
Tonmeister & Final Mix
Oğur & Kopuz & E-Bow
Turkish Airlines Project Coordinators
Turkish Airlines Project Consultant.
: Cüneyt Karaahmetoğlu
: Cüneyt Karaahmetoğlu
: Stefan Haberfeld
: Andreas Lange & Can Erdoğan – Sus
: Bratislava Studio Orchestra
: Vladimir Martinka
: Erkan Oğur
: Derya Türkan
: Ertan Tekin
: Elmas Aysun Ulusu & Rahime Demir Bulut
: Halit Ömer Camcı
: Burak Yazıcı
WHY SINAN'S MINARETS?
When I started to live in Istanbul after graduating from college, I always wondered how the city is seen from the minarets whenever I stare at the Historic Peninsula or take a walk inside the city walls.
I have always felt a great sympathy without knowing the reason to Mimar Sinan, familiar with his name even in the primary school hearing from the textbooks of childhood or seeing his works in Manisa, the city I went to primary school.
I have become a little more conscious about Sinan following the articles about him in Atlas Magazine, the magazine that is still being published and I think one of the most beautiful things realized in Turkey; which I've been following from the first issue and waiting impatiently for the publishing date for 15 years, directed by Mehmet Yaşin firstly and later on by Özcan Yüksek. My interest on Sinan had increased further seeing the map given as an insert with Atlas and which was prepared by Çekül Foundation within the scope of Respect for Sinan project, dividing Istanbul to six different routes accordingly with Sinan’s works. But I have never done a comprehensive research.
Time lapse, that we shot mostly for advertisements with 35 mm negative cameras when I was a camera assistant became a technique that can be performed by anyone after the development and falling prices of digital cameras and recently I was quite curious about this technique. I was shooting time lapses in various parts of Istanbul and building experience. While shooting historical peninsula from the heights of Salacak, I thought if I could shoot from the minaret of Sinan Pasha Mosque, which I think, had an incredible view. And at that moment, an idea to shoot time lapse of Istanbul from minarets came to my mind. And I started thinking about it.
In those days a sentence I found in an article which I’ve read in the internet impressed me a lot. A reporter named Andrew Ferren had prepared an article about Mimar Sinan for New York Times. Towards the end of the article he said "After five centuries, we still go back to the city that belongs to Sinan" on the way to Istanbul from Edirne where they’ve gone to see Selimiye Mosque. Honestly you could easily think that the city still belonged to Sinan when you look at the city or walk on the streets and it was much more meaningful after five centuries. And this sentence, turned an idea previously came to my mind to a project related to Sinan, who I loved since my childhood. Shooting Istanbul from Sinan’s Minarets… The first thing came to my mind after that was the film should certainly cover all the states of four seasons of Istanbul.
I went over my Atlas collection, took out all maps given in 15 years from the box together with the Çekül’s map and started by identifying the mosques to shoot on Sinan’s route to realize what I was willing for a long time. At the end of this route (except 3 of them which does not match this project) I spotted total 25 Sinan constructions together with Hagia Sophia which two minarets of it built by Mimar Sinan, depending on how much original they are and their location. I chose some of the mosques by only guessing in terms of view as far as I didn’t have any permission to visit the minarets.
Later on, I got permission from Fatih Mufti for a teaser that I wanted to prepare in order to put in the sponsorship file. And than I started to climb the Süleymaniye’s three balcony minaret which faces Bosphorus and known as Cevahir, that I didn’t know there were more than 250 stairs with my equipment backpack. The door of the minaret was locked behind me for security reasons. I was continuously walking up the spiral staircase and could not reach any doors! Finally when I reached the door of the third and stepped outside, I realized that the job I started was so tasteful besides it was so hard. The view I looked at was more beautiful than I’ve guessed. And at that moment I felt different than everybody living in Istanbul at that time, feeling same when I climbed to the minarets through the whole project. At the end of the sponsorship negotiations Turkish Airlines became the main sponsor and Sony Turkey was the sub sponsor.
I lived my life according to the weather conditions for 13 months during the period when I did the shootings. I waked up an hour before the morning pray almost everyday for 13 months and checked the weather, condition of the clouds if any, from the window of my house which is in Cihangir. Weather being very unfavorable for time lapse some days, became completely different at any time of the day. And at that moment the only thing I thought was the necessity of shooting whatever I was dealing with. At such moments I could possibly leave a friend while passing time together, who I haven’t seen for a long time, coming home, taking my always ready bag, choosing a mosque and go for shooting depending on the sun’s position, speed of the clouds, density of them, wind direction, landing direction of the aircrafts which changes together with the wind direction while landing to the Ataturk Airport, etc.
I started to shoot in summer as it is in the chronological arrangement of the movie. And I started to worry as time passed by, about what to do on the balcony in winter that there were a few degrees temperature difference comparing to the ground level even in summer. And when winter came, there were days that I walked down and up the stairs several times to warm up while shooting. But I never felt anger or regret to get in a job like this even in such moments, unlike, I always felt happy.
The first question of the acquaintances who has no technical knowledge about time lapse when I asked their ideas after watching the movie was: “You are speeding up the scenes, right?” No. There is no interfering on the speed of the scenes in the project- except one; and that is slowed down. In general I stayed on the minaret minimum 1 hour up to 7 hours to obtain a 12 seconds scene. Another question was “You are leaving the equipment up there and collect later, right?” No again. Neither the equipment had the value to leave them there nor the techniques I’ve used allow to shoot in auto mode.
Today, when I still look back, I wonder if I can get a job that will make me such peaceful while shooting ever in my life. It was boring only once along the many shooting days and hours I’ve spent on the minaret, moved away from Istanbul a couple of days leaving the sunset shooting in the middle. That frame later became the beginning frame of the autumn which is one my favorite images in my movie.
From the first moment I started designing the footage, I knew well that I can never keep continuous attention during a 16 minute time lapse unless the music was super. I wished Can to compose the soundtracks since the project first formed in my mind. I explained the project to Can, an old friend of mine who lives in Germany and asked whether he wants to compose the soundtracks of the film or not. He agreed to do. In fact, music was the most fearing part of the project from the beginning, but turned out to be one of the easiest parts of the project due to Can’ s great talent and understanding each other very well. Since the beginning, it was in my mind to use musical instruments special to Anatolia, to Istanbul and to both their real citizens, together with a symphonic composition. We wanted to use Middle Asia Turks’ lute in soundtracks. It was unthinkable for me to do something related to Istanbul and not using Istanbul Kemençesi, thanks to Derya Turkan to let me familiar to the instrument. To commemorate the Armenian stonemasons who I always admire greatly, we used an Armenian instrument called “duduk”. And towards the end of the project, we thought that “e-bow” which Erkan Oğur can perform tunes similar to “ney” would suit spring season. I wish all well to Erkan Oğur, Derya Türkan and Ertan Tekin, musicians who I admire did not refuse our willing to work together.
In fact, reaching the end of this article, which I’ve started with the goal to tell “Why Sinan’s Minarets?” but then found myself telling a little bit of all process; I would like to thank everyone who supported me, been aware or not. Afterwards, I would like to thank people whose support for this project is incredibly valuable for me. Endless thanks to my family who supports and courage me all the time whatever I do. And I would like to present my sincere thanks to Pınar Ergun, who was beside me from the day when the project came in to my mind till the final, motivating me when my motivation reaches bottom, and who doesn’t withhold her intelligence and entire experience from an unrestrained person like me. I am not sure if I would be writing this article today if she did not exist. And also thanks to Özcan Güçlü. Friend of a person such merely supports with nothing in return. And of course Selim Söğüt… If his contribution to the color, the success in problem solving, perseverance, patience and amazing German discipline did not exist, perhaps I would not create such a job satisfying me.
An acquaintance whose name I don’t remember today has asked which mosque I would like Sinan to build except the ones that I shot during the project. And I definitely answered Selim Mosque which is both very naive to me with its architecture and also because of its location. I would very much like to shoot Golden Horn from two minarets of Selim Mosque and the scenes to take part in this film.
When I first thought about the movie, I wanted to realize it in 4K resolution which was not as popular as it is now in Turkey. Every frame of the movie is to be in a photo resolution. I'm still discovering new things every time I watch the movie and willing to zoom in without pixelation. And of course, since the beginning I can not say I didn’t want to witness something as in Antonioni’s Blow-up film. I did not witness anything but who knows, maybe not a murder but something better and interesting may exist in the movie.
I hope that after watching the film, I can leave a slight wish to ask a question or see works of him in the minds of any domestic or foreigner person who has no relevance to Sinan or haven’t heard about him.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Photo by Ahmet Karaahmetoğlu