Sam Parker Rivman ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Emertainment Monthly had the opportunity to speak with Emre Sahin and Sarah Wetherbee; two Emerson College alumni who got married and started Karga 7 Pictures, a successful production company, together.
How does your background, coming from Istanbul, influence the films and television shows that you produce?
Emre: That’s an integral part in a lot of the conscious and subconscious choices that I end up making. I think the main thing about Istanbul, especially with such a unique city, is the mix of eastern and western culture. There’s a certain style and aesthetic that come out of the city, and I grew up with it. There’s an energy that you can’t help but have seep in when you spend time in Istanbul. On a more conscious level, Istanbul is the 21st century city. It’s ground zero for so many things, good and bad, that we are dealing with right now.
Where does your directorial style come from? Who or what has influenced you along the way?
Emre: It’s kind of multifaceted, but story-approach wise, the person that had the most influence on me would be Tarantino. I just like how he is always up to no good, in a good way. He’s always prodding and pushing and always playing with the audience. I try to bring that into everything I do, whenever I can. Aesthetically, my style is a blend of Tarantino’s funny, witty approach and my own fifteen years of experience working in documentary and nonfiction film making.
Both you and Sarah Wetherbee graduated from Emerson College, and went on to build a successful production company together. How did your education at Emerson prepare you to leap into the world of film and television?
Emre: For me, Emerson was the perfect college experience. When I was there, it was always very hands on. We always had good access to equipment and resources, so from the minute I got there I was able to start experimenting and figuring out how to tell a story. By the time I graduated, I had the confidence to go out and take what I had learned from Emerson into the real world. Not to mention, I did the L.A program, which gave me even more experience on a practical level.
What advice would you give to college students, especially those here at Emerson, who want to venture into the film and television industry?
Emre: I think the main thing, from my point of view, is to work your ass off. Be ready to work hard, and make yourself invaluable in that way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people graduate college and join the work force with an inflated sense of ego without the effort to back it up. No matter what the job is, work your ass off at it, be the best at that, and the rest will come very easily. The other very important thing is to persevere. Of course everyone graduates with certain ideas of whether they want to direct, or write, or produce. But that may change over time, and that’s okay. If you don’t have the perseverance and the stubbornness to keep trying, whatever you are aiming for will end up eluding you.
What can you tell me about your upcoming film, The Team?
Emre: Right now, we are in post production, which we shot over the summer and into the beginning of the fall. We shot it here in Turkey, it’s a Turkish language film, but we are doing the post in the States. The Team is my second feature film, and my goal with it is to hit the big international film festivals. My first film, 40, premiered in Toronto, so our goal is to have a world premiere at one of the large festivals internationally. In Turkey, we already have distribution, and the film will be released here in the fall. I’m also writing my third film, which will be my first American language feature, and it is more of a political thriller.
What else can you tell us about your upcoming third feature film?
Emre: I’ll keep it vague, but it’s about Eastern and Western clashes and clashes of religions, played out on a very personal level. The story takes place centered around one family, who is in the States. The film starts there, but ends in Turkey. We dig into a lot of contemporary issues that we’re dealing with, like extremism and prejudice, and immigration. These issues are all boiled down into a very personal story. I’m really excited about that one. I can’t say who yet, but we have a really good cast lined up for that, like internationally known names.
Are there any other projects we may not have knowledge of that you’d like to speak about?
Emre: We are also developing a very large budget project here in Turkey. It’s basically a WWI project, in the vain of Band of Brothers and The Pacific. It takes the story of a certain battle, but approaches it on a more personal level. It’s not announced yet, so I’ll keep it vague. We hope to have it announced over the next few months.
At Emerson, you studied journalism. How did you make the transition into the world of film?
Sarah: Well, I studied journalism and first was working at a news station. I just kind of decided that the daily news thing wasn’t for me. I love writing, and I love human interest stories, but the daily news was a little bit too depressing for me. I loved the process of it, but I didn’t love what we had to cover. So I moved to L.A, and I started working at a company called Arnold Shapiro Productions. It was one of the few companies that did documentary television, before reality television. So he did Scared Straight and Beyond Scared Straight. I started doing things for him, like production assisting, and eventually I started writing. And I was using all of my news skills, but in more public interest pieces.
How did you and Emre come together and begin working on projects?
Sarah: We actually didn’t meet at Emerson, despite being in the same year. We were both in L.A and met through a mutual friend, and then started dating. Then there was a Travel Channel show, on which I was the writer and producer, where our cameraman fell through. I was about to go on a six or eight week trip around the world, and suddenly we were without a pretty important staff member. So I brought Emre, because he was able to fill the spot. We went everywhere from the Yucatan to Egypt. Every three or four days, we were in a new city. When we got back to the Travel Channel, they actually said “This looks way better than it needs to.” which is actually a huge compliment.
What were some of the challenges of shooting on location for your first feature film, 40, which takes place in the ghettos of Istanbul?
Sarah: Shooting in Istanbul is actually very interesting, because in some ways it’s incredibly easy. People are very willing to help facilitate the filming while we are in certain areas, especially considering that Emre is from Istanbul himself. So there was a lot of support that we could never get in the U.S. But we were still on location, and some of them weren’t the safest. Especially as a producer, you’re always thinking about keeping your crew safe. There were a couple of times when there were areas that we may have even started and despite thinking that it was an amazing location, we had to pull out for safety reasons.
What do you think it is about Istanbul that allows for such creativity and artistic prowess regarding these projects?
Sarah: I think there are so many things, but I will say that I don’t know anyone who has traveled to Istanbul and hasn’t been changed by the experience. Even if you’re incredibly well traveled, there is something different about experiencing Istanbul first hand. I think it has to do with the history. It’s a pretty massive city, but a fairly small landmass as well. There have been so many different empires that have called Istanbul home, and it’s all built on top of each other and all of it is still there. And then you have kind of this modern city that is becoming more and more diverse, right on top of the ruins of an ancient city. There is just something in the air there.
Emre and Sarah are hard at work to continue putting out quality content. If you like what you read, we recommend checking out their first feature film, 40, which you can find on Amazon.
To check out more visit http://karga7.com/.