Bessy Adut is, quite frankly, one of the most stubborn women one can ever meet. And it’s this “I will do it no matter what” attitude that has led the Turkish immigrant to become an award winning film director/writer/producer who lives in Los Angeles.
She holds an MFA in Film Directing from CalArts as a Fulbright Grantee and a BA in Film and Television from Istanbul Bilgi University. Bessy is also a UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program alumna. Her latest short film Escape Room has won 11 awards and has been featured in several Oscar qualifying international film festivals.
She is also the founder of the growing Queen B. Film Hive, LLC in 2015. Bessy has worked as a Director/Host in TRT World documentaries such as Inside the Lens and Mysteries of Cinema and has worked as a Production Coordinator and Director’s Assistant for Academy Award winner Bryan Fogel’s Icarus II and The Dissident.
Currently she works on a documentary about the artist Post Malone. For the past two years Bessy has been developing her feature documentary “Searching For God In Antarctica” with a docu-series to follow.
Reel 360 had a chance to sit with Bessy and discuss her upcoming projects as well as how she approaches filmmaking.
Who is Bessy Adut as a storyteller? What kind of stories intrigue you?
Good question. I wouldn’t identify myself as one type of storyteller, but I see myself as a versatile one. So far in my filmmaking career, I’ve experimented with several genres including drama, comedy, romance, horror and psychological thriller.
One common theme I notice in all my films is the concept of misunderstanding. However, while I am still drawn to genre stories, I am after a story that is looking at everything from a bigger picture.
Lately, I’ve been wondering what’s wrong with the world and how can we possibly make it a better place? There are scientific issues right now such as global warming, climate change, pandemic, ocean and air pollution, fires that need to be addressed.
Economic issues that is caused by capitalism such as homelessness, poverty, not everyone having access to a shelter, food, health services and education which we could analyze under class differences.
There are sociological issues such as racism and discrimination that sparked protests all summer. And there is new age spirituality which is rooted in ancient history telling us that when we control to use our thoughts and energies we can make a difference in the world.
I consider myself a very curious person and I would like to travel the world asking questions to specialists and professionals on these topics to get a better idea of what’s wrong with our planet and how can we make a difference as ordinary civilians? How can we make the world a better place? How can we all unite under human race with love? That is the current story I am after right now.
When did you know you wanted to make films?
I was a lonely, but imaginative child. I used to watch tons of movies and television. First, I thought I wanted to be an actress because I really enjoyed performing and being in front of the camera. However, during my teenage years after having a short anorexic period – trying to fit the ’90s beauty standards – it affected my psychology and health.
I also ended up illustrating and painting, instead of acting. That changed my life.
My Dad was also a filmmaker/musician/artist. I started playing with video cameras at a very young age like 11-years-old. I would end up making little films with my childhood friend Eser or I’d just make little films using my toys.
I found out later that [Steven] Spielberg did the same thing when he was a kid. Later on, I decided to study film and television because of my love for films. And since I made my first short film, I realized I have the most passion for writing, directing and producing more than anything else. I truly enjoyed making films and decided to pursue it as a career.
How do you approach a story… especially when it’s your story?
I always ask what is it I am trying to tell at the core. I like films that get into the psychology of the main character or villain. For instance, my latest award winning short film Escape Room is about a few teenagers getting lured into a maze and being killed by a psycho killer.
However, in my sequel, Mask of Revenge filmed at Warner Bros Studios, I explain the psychology of the character and we discover that she was bullied when she was at high school at a time when she lost her dad.
One of my favorite directors is Alfred Hitchcock and I love the ending of Psycho. He explains the dark psychology behind a character’s motives. Psychology of characters always interest me. I find movies where a killer randomly just kills people and we never find out why bores me.
I find it very superficial.
In my current project, Searching for God, I am looking at the psychology of humanity overall. What is it about religions and politics that separate us from one another?
How can we find a common ground and work together to make the world a better place? I think this is only going to happen when a majority of people realize that earth is our home and we are all one big family regardless of our differences.
I feel like we are at all hands on deck kind of situation. We have to save the world from psychotic leaders and there is nothing so deep in their psychology. All they see is hunger for power, greed and selfishness.
What kind of stories do you want to tell?
I like reading stories or watching movies that makes me wonder and keep thinking after the experience. For instance, Mulholland Drive and Black Swan are two of my favorite films because they are like puzzles. They kept my mind busy after long time watching the films. I like making films like that where I can mess with audience’s mind so they keep wondering what the heck was that all about.
We’re in a time of transition with pandemics etc, how does that affect you from a spiritual standpoint?
On one hand, I try to use it to my advantage. I wake up and meditate every morning. Then, I continue with a walk or morning exercise. This routine kept and keeps me sane and healthy. Aside from that, I didn’t really change my life much. I kept living my life while wearing a mask and keeping a good distance from people.
However it did effect my psychology because I used to go out with friends a lot. I experienced more isolation and loneliness than I ever did.
I still feel grateful not to be stuck in an abusive relationship. I would rather be alone. I’ve heard there is a rise in domestic violence cases during the pandemic. That’s terrible. I have a lot of friends and family I can’t get to see and I really miss a lot.
That is difficult. I think I got more and more attached to my phone and social media during this time. However I believe in keep going and staying strong. I really think talking to people, socializing as much as we can and meditating helps from a spiritual standpoint.
What do you think the importance of storytelling and storytellers are with everything going on in the world?
I will give two references from movies. The times we live in right now, it feels like the John Carpenter film, They Live and most people don’t have the special glasses. They can’t see what’s right in front of them. And when you try to wake them up they act like cranky babies. The other scene that comes in front of my eyes a lot is the “babies” connected to the cords in matrix. We are all addicts of technology. We get sucked into it.
However the reality we are living isn’t the reality. There is way more beyond that. As in Plato’s Cave, we are only looking at the shadows. Unfortunately most people became very materialistic. Being in love is overlooked at or even worse it’s seen as something scary. People are afraid of each other, everything.
I would like to believe love will win. That is the story I would like to tell. I’d like to let people know we have spiritual and scientific powers we aren’t aware of. Once we start using it together for the good of human kind, it is going to make a difference.
Who inspires you as a filmmaker?
There are many. As I mentioned earlier Hitchock, David Lynch, Darren Aranofsky. As a documentary filmmaker, which I am barely starting, Bryan Fogel whom I had an opportunity to work with is very inspiring to me. He did very gutsy films.
He is a very brave filmmaker. Although my themes are different than his films, I like his style as a director and take him as a role model.
I also respect Stanley Kubrick and Terry Gilliam for their variety of styles and believe all of their films close to perfection.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
At the Academy Awards making my thank you speech. Haha. That’s been my dream for a long time. I wanted to be the 1st woman director to win the Oscar for Best Directing didn’t make it on time. But Kathryn Bigelow opened the door for us.
I am hoping to get into top 10 in that list. Hopefully, 2021 is the start of my dream of traveling the world and making this documentary series Searching for Goddess. I plan to explore a different continent every year for 7 years. I also would like to buy a nice house with a view and live with a friend and/or lover. And then I’d like to experience being a mom whether my own child or I might possibly adopt. Not sure yet.
However none of us had any idea this pandemic was going to happen this year. So no matter what plans we make, we don’t know what life is planning for us. We can just go with the flow and make the best of what we can.
Tell us about ‘Searching for God?‘
First of all, I changed my title to Searching for God(dess). The reason is when I approached people about my project, most atheists shoved it aside thinking it is a faith-based documentary.
When I approached Christians, they realized I am not talking about Jesus, but some kind of God concept that is more philosophical.
I am talking about Mother Nature and the different Gods we all believe. I’m exploring the common grounds and how we all have the potential of being Gods.
But basically this is the heart theme of my overall project:
Hubert Reeves Quote, “Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.”
Have you searched for God? What have you found?
Yes, I’ve been searching for God as long as I’ve known myself. I believe we each carry a connection with God (dess) that can be found in nature and within ourselves. I think through love we connect to each other and all other beings.
I like the saying “God is love” I think there is some true wisdom in that. That’s the kind of God I am searching for. People’s love for one another, for nature, for science and for everything.
I believe through love we will be able to reach God level and create heaven on earth.
How can people support Searching for God?
Searching for God(dess) is in the development stage right now. Currently I am applying for grants and looking for Executive Producers/Investors. I am about to get Fiscal Sponsorship from an organization which can help the investors with their taxes.
I am also looking for support from people if they’re passionate about any of these topics. I plan on making my first film in Antarctica so any connections with science communities in Antarctica would help. Any spiritual coaches in California can also be helpful. And of course any financial support could help.
You can reach out to me if you’re interested and would like to hear more. I am very easy to find on the internet. Just google my name and I am the only Bessy Adut in the world so you can’t go wrong. I am almost in all social media networks also. So please reach out if you’d like to be part of my first feature film and a spiritual travel adventure with a humanistic story.
Thank god, Bessy Adut is stubborn.