Zumrut is an award winning script, written by Sena Tunali. The script is about a baby left in a hospital in the communist Bulgaria by her mother in the 1970s. She was secretly adopted and raised by a family that is completely a stranger to her. It is our pleasure to interview Sena for LA Indies magazine.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of your recent film and script project?
My inspiration was my family and our origins. Everything started with a little flame of curiosity. Then the period of non-stop researches started. The untold stories were coming out to the surface. I realized that whatever we found through the researches we made brought me step by step closer to my family members. Whatever we discovered, I excitedly wrote them all to my script.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this genre and what inspires you to write scripts?
The most challenging aspect of writing for the Period Piece Drama genre for "Zumrut" script is: I had to be very careful about the conditions, the technological era I was writing about, peoples' situations, and their psychology, the social norms, and all. You can't send an email to a person in another country like in today's technology. Telegraphs was out there or sending letters. Almost all of my scripts are like my diaries. I always put pieces of my life into all my scripts. True stories are always inspiring me.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and what was the first film project that you worked on?
When I was in the music academy (as a pianist), I always attended school plays and loved to act in some of them. So for me, acting was always a part of the art-making that I am very affectionate. New York Film Academy was the place where everything started for me. On my first day of school, there was an audition right in the school building. My couple of friends and I attend it completely coincidently. The casting director asked me to read a monolog, and they liked my performance a lot. Then the director asked me to improvise a drunk person. As I kept on performing, the people in the casting room started cheering and laughing. The casting director raised and started clapping. The positive reactions from the people of the film industry made me incredibly happy. I enjoyed that moment very much, and it was a turning point for me. I decided to be in media work for the rest of my life.
After I booked the job, it was my first work in the industry that I enjoyed so much. After that, I started spending most of my time acting on short film projects in Los Angeles. As I kept going to film sets, I realized even deeper that I love this job so much, and it is my source of happiness. I acted in more than 40 short films, and in every character that I played, I got a chance to express my feelings. The characters I played provided me with a great sense of freedom. I realized that film sets are the place where I belong. After all, I started to produce, act, direct and write my own film projects. And so happy that all of them are getting great recognition with awards from prestigious festivals around the globe like Venice Shorts Film Awards.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film of your latest film project and what was the most interesting aspect of production?
It is important to work with harmonious energy within a film set. Harmonious cast and the cast members are essential to get a good outcome at the end. The camera catches all :D Compatability within crew members is extremely important to keep behind the camera in good shape. Even one person being negative can affect the whole set environment. Due to this fact, I always try to work with people who are very good and efficient at their work and harmonious. After we wrap, I always see many of my cast and crew members (including me) become real friends and get along well outside of business life.
The most interesting part of my last production of "Who is Responsible" film was: my crew members and I went into wildfires and shot scenes in there. Yes, it was dangerous for all of us, but we wanted to present the reality at its best. Later we all joined the wildfire team voluntarily to contain the fire.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a writer/director and which genres do you prefer to continue working on?
Period dramas are fascinating to me so much. I prefer to continue working on period dramas. I am also an environmental filmmaker. The positive and powerful impacts of environmental projects, documentaries, and films fascinate me the most.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
Cinema is such a powerful tool to give: a message, teach something and be an example. Many kids take some film characters as their example. Subliminally, and psychologically the films we are watching are affecting all of us uncontrollably. That is an amazing power. We see so many people who are feeling sad about global warming. However, not many actions are taken by them to protect our only world. Last time I heard someone saying, "I don't care about global warming. It will be better if we get warmer winters, and I wouldn't mind" Most people don't know the meaning of global warming and its effects. They do not have enough knowledge about global warming that could cause extreme weather conditions. And damaged crops could cause hunger across millions. Or the melting ice on the Arctic, I heard someone saying, "I don't believe in this" Films/short films and documentaries are so important right at that point. People are taking films as an example. If we can make more educating films/documentaries about environmental problems, (I believe) we, the filmmakers, can help enormously to stop global warming and environmental problems across the world.
What is your next film project?
My next film project is going to be, Zumrut inspired by family’s true story. With that precious period piece drama, I intend to find my mother's side biological My next film project is going to be, Zumrut inspired by my family’s true story. With that precious period piece of drama, I intend to find my mother's side biological grandparents, especially my grandmother. After I make Zumrut a film, it will be my message to my biological grandmother. This film will help us find each other and reunite. Because I know, as soon as she watches the film where ever she is in the world, she will recognize the story and contact us.