Film director with local ties wins award

Published 2:06 am Sunday, October 31, 2010

Staff Writer

Theron Patterson, a film director whose father and grandparents are from Washington, has directed a film that won three awards at the Bursa International Silk Road Film Festival in Bursa, Turkey.
Patterson, who visited Istanbul, Turkey over 12 years ago fell in love with the place and never left. His grandparents, Jack and Myrtle Patterson of Washington, say he is dedicated to his craft of film, as he studied filmmaking at the University of Arizona as well as at the California Institute of the Arts.
The film, “Bahti Kara,” (Dark Cloud), tells the story of a father who hasn’t been able to apply himself to anything. The lead character, “Adnan,” is played by unknown Turkish actor Reha Ozcan, and follows his self-destructive, suicidal, irresponsible behavior after he finds it hard to go on living after his wife’s death five years earlier. The film tells of how his actions affect those around him, mostly his family.
“In the film, Ozcan portrays a man whose life goes downhill after the untimely death of his beloved wife,” Patterson said. “He’s left with raising their teenage son, and sometimes facing funny troubles because he is so unlucky that it seems as though he is living with a dark cloud over his head.”
Though Patterson loves American film, he said he believes everyone in the United States makes films that make it seem like the world is made up of only America.
“When in fact, there is a completely different and unknown world outside,” he said. “When the essence of the story is a human story, it doesn’t really matter where you go. And Istanbul is different. Like lovers, I hate and love it very much.”
While teaching film at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, Patterson began writing the script for “Dark Cloud.”
“I realized that in Turkey, if there is a problem in a family, all family members are affected by it,” he said. “When the same happens in America, people don’t show this much concern.”
After winning three awards for his film at the film festival, Patterson said his film was brought under scrutiny, as one of the awards was for Best Screenplay. Rumors surfaced that a film without a script had won the screenplay award and should not have won.
Shortly thereafter, movie Web sites and review sites were all the rage with this unheard of film director and a film that should not have won.
However, according to rival producers and film crews, the film and the director deserve every bit of recognition it received, as Patterson succeeded at what many other film directors have tried to accomplish in the past – to create a film with unheardof actors and create a masterpiece that big named actors could not even accomplish.
“The film is not confined to a written screenplay,” Patterson said. “It employs black humor to explain the relation between love and the fear of death, as well as the thin border between beauty and the lack thereof.”
According to Patterson, he kept the script pages from his actors until moments before filming. He implored his actors to improvise with dialogue on-set while filming the scenes, as to get the real and raw emotion from the moment, rather than get them “acting” with memorized script lines.
“In fact,” he said, “I worked with the cast for six weeks prior to filming began to help the actors flesh out their characters.”
Patterson also worked only individually with actors during rehearsals and never as a group.
“The aim,” he said, “was to capture the first moment of surprise and reaction in an actors’ performance when they come freshly to a scene in the movie.
“I created conditions where the actors would react the way I wanted them to – manipulating them to react in a certain way and creating specific situations for them to react the way I wanted.”
Patterson said in many aspects, the film comes close to independant American films, in that it contains improvised dialogue.
The Bursa International Silk Road Film Festival is a week-long festival with over 140 films shown. It is also growing more every year and is said to be taking its place among the calender of the worlds film festivals.