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mert gokalp
2014, 17m, action, drama, history

A boat and its working crew in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. A father, a captain, never wanted his boy to work on the sea. The boy finds work in another boat a result of his affection of the sea.

Produced by: mert gokalp
Cast: Alptekin Serdengeçti, Ömer Hüsnü Turat, Kuzey Aksöz
The 3-week run for İRME ended on Sep 20th, 2017. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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The Ten-Day Interview

5 questions with İRME director, mert gokalp at the half-way mark.
Saturday, September 9th, 2017
  1. 1 Hi Mert! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make this film?
    I lived in Bodrum of Turkey for 4 years. Around early 90s summertime, I was in Bodrum for summer holidays during my childhood. Bodrum is a place where most famous sponge divers lived along with Kalymnos Island. I met some of those divers who lost their friends during the diving years. Their way of living was subjected by famous writers like Yasar Kemal, Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli. They are very passionate man, the way they love and hate the sea is like nothing. Some began this business because of poorness, some because of love of the sea, but all has a story to tell. Many of the divers got decompression sickness because of heavy diving, some of which are to 80-90meters. The working conditions were very unfortunate for most of them. The divers who got the bends are paralyzed either from their legs arms or even both. There are no sponge boats in Bodrum anymore Kalymnos has only 7 boats. The sponges of the Mediterranean were devastated by an unknown sickness during late 80s. The divers can't make a living anymore by sponge diving and the stories of these furious divers will be lost forever. This is why I felt like I have to write a story and fiilm this.
  2. 2 You wrote this script as well. How were you able to write about the life of these sponge divers? Did you have experience with it in the past? How were you exposed to this world?
    I am doing a phd on sponges. I trt to culture them for scientific purposes. So I read many scripts on them. I also met some last surviving divers frım Kalymnos and Bodrum. I took pictures and intervieved them. I was living in Amsterdam around 2013 where I was attending a weekly shortfilm fest. There I decided to write İrme. It took 1-2 months to write it.
  3. 3 The underwater cinematography is really impressive. How challenging was that to do and what advice do you have for anyone that wants to shoot stuff underwater?
    I am a diving instructor and an underwater photographer, this makes the life a bit easy. I got some assistance from some pros as well. Bıt filming was very hard. We tried to bring everyone up safe. Lots of air tanks, supporting air devices, security divers were on site. I didnt get any advice from anyone but I worked on scenes for almost a month. Carefully planned the shooting plan scene by scene. We used doubles for some scenes. I had to be the first diver, because of some problems. Omer's underwter scenes were thone by a scuba diver friend of mine. This part was very chalenging as he had to jump from the boat with the sponge, no mask, no fins, clothes on to 15 meters. We cut this scene into two. Diving and reaching the mask as 1st and walking underwater and finding the boy and saving him 2nd.
  1. 4 I grew up in a town that was famous for sponge diving. I remember thinking it was such a romantic occupation. What are your thoughts on sponge diving and how difficult is it for people to make a living doing it today?
    They amaze me! Crusing around the Mediterranean with 6-7 m boats on sail, for 6 months diving and sailing. 6-8 people in the boat in a very narrow space is just amazing. The romance is in their attachment to the sea. Their passion, their freedom. But apart from that, their life is a total drama. I know some divers contiuning the business, but these ones are collecting oysters, fish, octopusfor the taverns. No sponge business anymore.
  2. 5 What's next?
    Life goes on with photography, directing creating things.
    I just finished Bluefish, a feature length environmental documentary. It is shown in various festivals now. Nowadays I am shooting a feature lentgh docu-drama on Mediterranean fisherman 'Hands of the Sea', which is supposed to be finished in 2018.
  3. About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
    Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
    Ben Hicks

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