With the production of ES Film, "Filinta" - the TV show set during the Ottoman era - is now taking on the time period of Sultan Abdülhamid II. With its first season being a grand success and bringing together some of the most prominent national and international names in the industry, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) is now raising the bar on period films and shows.
Unlike any other Turkish TV show, "Filinta" is filmed in a 300,000 square meter film set in İzmit's Seka Park. With exact replicas of Galata, Pera and even the tram located there, the set is unbelievably realistic. Stepping into the time machine of "Filinta's" set, Europe's second-biggest film set, the new season has tons to offer. The series is now climbing the ladder of international success along with its success in Turkey by working with some of the most distinguished people in the industry. In its latest season, cast members worked with famous Hollywood stunt coordinator Dusan Hyska to give the series an even more realistic tone and add to its quality. Hyska has previously worked with cast members from "Titanic," "Fetih 1453" and "Skyfall" as the stunt coordinator.
Viewers of "Filinta" have said, "We are learning about historical events with the realistic narrative of 'Filinta.' Every week we are at the edge of our seats waiting to see what's next." Filinta continues to collect awards from many organizations and universities as well, it was chosen as the "Best Period Series" by the Engelsiz Yaşam Vakfı (Barrier-Free Living Foundation.)
We got a chance to interview one of "Filinta's" producers, Serdar Öğretici, and learn more about the transition into the Sultan Abdülhamid II time period and the overall success of the show.
Daily Sabah: As 'Filinta: Dawn of the Millennium,' continues in its second season, it is now handling the time period of Sultan Abdülhamid II. Can you tell us about the transition into this period? How much of this period will the series examine?
Serdar Öğretici: In the first season, the show was entirely fictional, actually. The name of the sultan was unknown and this continued until the middle of the second season. However, we realized that the viewers wanted to watch a series talking about a time they were familiar with. They wanted to know which Sultan was on the throne rather than leaving it a mystery. Now, "Filinta" is handling the time period in which Sultan Abdülhamid II reigned, with the previous sultan being identified as Sultan Abdülaziz. This season we are ending the show a bit earlier due to the requests from the channel, but next year we will have another show that will air with the name of a specific sultan. It will tell the stories of historical events combined with some fiction that is always needed to fill the gaps.
DS: How much actual historical information can viewers of "Filinta" obtain? How much of the topics covered in the series is true and how much of it is fiction?
SÖ: For the new season, I can say that the events taking place are real events in history. Although the events are real, sometimes it is necessary to use fictional characters to fill in the gaps. These fictional characters add excitement to the show and are important. But viewers who watch the show will get to know real historical events that took place in the period of Sultan Abdülhamid II.
DS: Before shooting this season you worked with Hollywood stunt coordinators. What kinds of benefits did this have for the cast? Was there any difficulty for the actors who do not use stunt doubles on the show?
SÖ: In most TV series, the stunts are not given enough attention. For us, this seems careless and it is an aspect that must be worked on. That is why we worked with Hollywood stunt coordinator Dusan Hyska for six-to-seven months and our entire cast was educated on the subject. If someone who is shot is not falling to the ground like a person who has been shot, it is not realistic and the viewers can recognize this. To prevent this from happening and to add realism to the series, we decided to work with professionals on the subject.
DS: ES Film's first project, "Filinta," has been a huge success in Turkey and other parts of the world, and it continues to receive awards from many organizations and universities. Why do you think the series is getting so much attention? What do you believe is the key to this success?
SÖ: I think the main reason for this success is the fact that everything is done carefully and all aspects are taken into consideration. Both the cast and the crew all work together to make everything as realistic as possible. People are very curious about history, and if we get viewers to anticipate what is to come in the next episode, we have succeeded.
DS: Filinta was chosen as the "Best Period Series" by the Engelsiz Yaşam Vakfı. What do you think are the main differences between "Filinta" and other period series? In what way do you appeal to Turkish history-lovers?
SÖ: What sets us apart from other period series is that we go about setting "Filinta" as an Ottoman thriller. "Filinta" uses intrigue to follow up on historical events and we have much more stories to tell. Most TV shows just choose one story, but we tell a different story almost every episode. We are also handling a time period that has not been touched upon before - the last period of the Ottoman Empire, the period of Sultan Abdülhamid II.
DS: "Filinta" is filmed inside İzmit Seka Park, which is Europe's largest film set. What do you think are the main benefits of shooting a period series on a set?
SÖ: For us, filming a period series somewhere other than a film set is unthinkable because in the modern world we live in, there will always be a wire or a telephone that will break the ambiance and take away from the portrayal of the time being presented. Using a set is convenient because the whole cast is together in one space and the quality of the show is much greater. If outdoor spaces where used there would be decorations and small details that would need to be removed before the shoot, thus making the process more time consuming and open to error. Using a film set is essential for us since filming a period series is something that needs great attention and is ultimately very beneficial.