After my eyes could literally not look at anymore porn, I stumbled upon this gem. The trailer for Summer of Blood seemed awesome. I told myself now this was the movie I had been waiting to see, it was just like my life. Minus the vampirism, beautiful women, and some confidence. Enough about my sad life my prayers had been answered. Not only was I able to see Summer of Blood, but by promising to stop calling and to obey the restraining order I was able to speak to writer, director,and star of Summer of Blood Onur Tukel. Over the phone of course. So here is my interview with Onur where we explore childhood horror favorites, vampire orgys, and a vampire movie about nothing.
Jake: Now I know you are the writer, director, and actor on the film what got you started into that?
Onur Tukel: In to acting? Or just making films in general?
Jake: Were you an actor before you were a director or did you always want to direct?
Onur Tukel: I always just directed I never really acted. I acted in all of the silly shorts we used to do as kids. It all started in the 8th and the 9th grade making movies with a little VHS camcorder. So I would act in those things, but thats not really acting it’s playing make believe. I don’t really consider myself an actor now because I really don’t have a skill set. I just kind of play my own personality or extension of my own personality in my movies. So its easier for me when I write the dialogue. It started a coupled years ago, I got cast in a movie by Michael Tully call Septien. He had seen a short film I made called The Wallet. Where basically I taught a bunch of children five to ten videography and acting for twenty weekends in Raleigh North Carolina. So I filmed it and improved with a bunch of little adorable asian kids. That became the short film The Wallet. When Tully saw the movie he thought I had some acting chops and he put me in his movie Septien. Septien went to sundance in 2011. That’s where I met a lot of people and started really getting involved in acting more. I met Alex Karpovsky. I was in his movie Red Flag. Then I decided I would act in my own films Richard’s Wedding and Summer of Blood. This has only really just started in the last three or four years.
Jake: That’s awesome, it comes across as something you’ve definitely been doing for sometime. I thought the acting in Summer of Blood was great as well.
Onur Tukel: Thanks man I appreciate that, its a lot of fun for me because I feel like it is kind of reverting back to childhood and playing make believe and dress up. Kind of pretending to be another character. I wrote this and I wrote this very quickly so its coming from a very deep rooted place inside myself. At the same time its all kind of a fantasy obviously. When you’re dealing with vampires it’s all fantasy, so I can have as much fun with it as I want.
Jake: I would describe this film as George Costanza becomes a vampire.
Onur Tukel: Haha that’s good. That’s a good way to describe it. A lot of people have compared Summer of Blood to Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld kind of humor as in the way that there is a lot of talk and nothing really substantial is being said. A vampire movie about nothing. Somebody described it as Curb Your Enthusiasm meets True Blood. I think that’s fair. I like those comparisons. George Costanza was a lovable Schmuck. There was something wonderful about him, but at the same time I wouldn’t want to be stuck on a deserted island with him. He’s irritating, but there’s something lovable and maddening about the guy. He’s just so absolute in his convictions and his ideas. I think that’s great and I love that. George Costanza went out with a lot of attractive women didn’t he?
Jake: Yeah he did.
Onur Tukel: The attitude behind George was if you had an attitude of confidence it didn’t matter what you look like.
Jake: It’s so hard to make a dark comedy, especially a horror dark comedy, you made it seamless in my opinion its such a great movie, but why horror? Are you a fan?
Onur Tukel: Jake I really appreciate those words thats really nice of you. I don’t have a lot of confidence so hearing those kinds of things is really really nice. I wish I loved watching horror and just movies like I used to. I don’t have that same love for it. I think its because i’m jaded or because I’m older. My teenage years were weaned on horror films. In that is what I would go to first. My first memories of really loving and watching film was watching a program called shock theatre. They would show all these old universal horror films, old black and white horror films from the last few decades or something. The 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, the Hammer films, and that’s where I discovered The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and all those universal classic movies. all these weird underground, independent films like the brain that wouldn’t die. That was in my elementary school years, but when I got to my teenage years I got into more slasher films like the Howling movies, Friday the 13th, and all the low budget horror films that were made around that time. When I go to college I discovered independent films that I never really knew existed. People like Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Nell LaBute, and of course Woody Allen. Once I discovered Woody Allen I couldn’t stop watching him. In a way Summer of Blood was an amalgamation of my love for those low budget, lowfy, 80’s horror films and my love for dialogue driven independent films I discovered in college. It’s kind of a love letter to both of those things. My introduction to movies was through horror.
Jake: I was terrified of horror movies until I was a teenager. I couldn’t even watch the thriller video, that scared me as a child.
Onur Tukel: I remember seeing the movie Jaws at a really early age. I remember my parents taking me to see that and falling in love with it. I used to draw sharks frequently as a child and that was because of my love for Jaws. Jaws was a scary movie, but at the same time its a character driven movie by the end of the film. When those three men are on that boat Quint, Hooper, and the sheriff it’s like an independent film. It’s all in one location, but there is a lot of action of course. When they’re in the cabin that is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It was one of my favorite scenes to watch growing up. If you think about it the idea of three people in one location, character driven, there is a lot of independent films like that. that really influenced me. Later a movie like Clerks would influence it as well because one of the things we were taught was if you want to make your first movie keep it in one or two locations for simplicitys sake. Focus on dialogue, focus on characters, try to make a movie that’s in one or two locations. Summer of Blood definitely had more than one location, but like the restaurant scene if you remember takes place in the same restaurant. That is because in New York it is very hard to shoot in restaurants and there were seven restaurant scenes. There was no way we were going to shoot seven different restaurant scenes so we took that independent film mentality and said lets shoot them all in the same place. Change our costumes and that actually helps add to the character. Erik being kind of thoughtless and unoriginal he takes all his girlfriends to the same place.
Jake: Because it’s all about him right that’s the character?
Jake: When I watched the trailer for this I was actually in school, there is a girl that sits next to me who is terrified of horror movies. I sometimes show her stuff I write to get her opinion and I told her to read the trailer I posted for your movie on our site. She said ok and I said also watch the trailer its not scary you might even get a laugh. She read it and says it was good, but something was very off putting to me, and I asked her what was that, to which she replies, the vampire orgy. I loved that scene tell me about filming it?
Onur Tukel: That stuff is really fun. It was very comfortable because there was no nudity. The joke is that everyone is clothed during the orgy. We wanted to make it more funny as opposed to more sexy. I think all the women in the movie are very sexy, but we didn’t want to do anything that exploited them. We had a lot of fun laying around and doing that stuff. Nobody had any problems with the dialogue. WIth my dialogue if the actors aren’t comfortable the actors can change it so it sounds more natural, they are allowed to change it, and that is why I think the acting is so good because people can change it to their own natural way of speaking. There is not much to say about it because it wasn’t uncomfortable it was just silly, and fun.
Jake: So what do you have coming up next for us?
Onur Tukel: I’m doing a movie called Applesauce which is another dark comedy. It will be different then summer of blood, it’s a horror film about infidelity, and body parts. It’s a genre movie that deals with the complexity of relationships and marriage. I also finished up a weird kind of hybrid documentary narrative about a musician who is trying to balance work with his family. He is trying to do all this without having any insecurity about what he is doing, and if he is doing the right thing. It’s called Abbey singer songwriter.
Jake: Thanks so much for coming on hopefully we can get you back on when Applesauce comes out.
Onur Tukel: Thanks so much Jake I appreciate it.
Make sure you go check out Summer of Blood in select theatres and VOD now!!!