Revered director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has just wrapped on his much-anticipated new feature, “Winter Sleep”, shot on a Sony F65 on location in Cappadocia, Turkey
The visually striking art house films of world-renowned Turkish film director, screenwriter and actor Nuri Bilge Ceylan have been honoured with pretty much every major film award out there.
He’s twice picked up the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival – for 2011’s highly acclaimed “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” and 2002’s “Uzak (Distant)” – and he’s already been awarded the ultimate accolade – the Cannes Film Festival Best Director prize – which he received in 2008, the year of the release of his much-admired “Three Monkeys”.
Ceylan has also picked up the esteemed International Federation of Film Critics award three times, and the Golden Orange Award for Best Director, again three times, and each of his releases has attracted a long list of gongs from film festivals around the world.
His latest movie, which is currently in post-production, is “Winter Sleep”, and is due for release in time for Cannes 2014. Shot over two months in the spectacular scenery of Cappadocia, in central Turkey, with a four-week studio shoot in Istanbul, the film should net Ceylan another batch of awards and plaudits aplenty.
There are no plot details available as yet, and all Ceylan is prepared to say is, “Winter Sleep is about humans – it’s a drama set in the middle of Turkey, in Anatolia. We captured many kinds of images on location, shooting in Cappadocia over wintertime. There are many kinds of landscapes, human-scapes and portraits, sometimes in snow, sometimes in cloudy weather and more seldomly sunny images as well.”
The best 4K camera around
Ceylan’s films are known for their beautiful photographic shots and long takes, and the aesthetic appearance of his movies is of paramount importance. So his choice of cameras is extremely considered. For “Winter Sleep”, Ceylan opted to shoot on an F65, having first tested an assortment of 4K and 2K cameras. “We made a comparison test before we started, and as soon as I saw the results I decided on the F65 as there was a huge difference with this camera,” he says.
“We watched the results in 2K as we didn’t have 4K equipment at that time, and still there was a huge difference. The colours and everything were much more realistic, and I thought it would give me more freedom to reframe images if required as the quality is so high. That freedom I think is very important to a filmmaker. The F65 is the best 4K camera around at the moment.”
A history with Sony
Prior to using the F65 on “Winter Sleep”, Ceylan had an extensive history of working with Sony cameras. His last four films were all shot on Sony CineAlta models.
“I stopped shooting 35mm years ago. My last four films have all been digital, and all four were shot with Sony cameras,” he says. “The first two were on the F900, and my previous film, “Once Upon A Time in Anatolia”, was shot on the F35. In some way Sony was the most suitable for me for each of these films. Every company has their own colour understanding and maybe the way Sony understands colour is closer to how I understand it.”
Added to this, says Ceylan, “For a director, one of the important things aesthetically is the depth of field; that’s more important than the resolution. With the F35 and F65, it’s a Super 35 chip size, and that gives you the opportunity to control the depth of field as you like.” The resolution, the natural colours and especially the skin tones really appeal to me about the F65,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve seen something better than 35mm.”
Satisfying a control freak
Rather than leaving the technical aspects of his production to others, Ceylan is a self-confessed control freak who takes great interest in every part of the production process and in all production kit. He even does his own grading.
“I believe directors should know at least something about technical things because if you don’t know the technical side you’re the slave of the technical people,” he says. “What I like about digital is I can control everything. For me, cinema is a way of telling truths by using artificial elements. Everything is artificial but the final result should tell something about the truth. Digital is great for me for controlling all these artificial elements – I can change the elements as I want to help the truth come through.”
“Before I used digital because of some practical reasons, but I continued to think 35mm was still better,” he adds. “But this time I believe the F65 is something better than that.”
A very advanced camera
Winter Sleep’s Cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki has a long-standing working relationship with Ceylan, having first worked on Ceylan’s 2003 movie “Climates”. “This is my fourth movie with Nuri and shooting these movies has been a real cinema education for me; that’s the way I see it when I collaborate with him, I’ve learned a lot,” says Tiryaki.
“In order to decide which camera to use for this movie, we tried the F65 and a number of 2K cameras and found the F65 most appropriate both in terms of skin tones and display resolution.”
“Both the resolution and colours of the camera satisfied us a lot. The F65 is much more developed and advanced than other models, especially in terms of dynamic range and recording format and you can work with light much more easily. In many aspects, it’s a very advanced camera.”