An Interview with Tuna Yilmaz, the president of Fashion Film Festival Istanbul

Tuna Yilmaz, the president of Fashion Film Festival Istanbul, has a strong background as a producer and art director in fashion industry. He wanted to create a hot spot for fashion, film and design fields in Istanbul and so he did. Istanbul is on its way to become one of the most important fashion capitals in the world and has its own fashion film festival since 2015. A comprehensive program of fashion films are presented to the audience alongside capsule talks with names from fashion and film, the festival also provides a detailed program dedicated to cutting edge design works, art videos, fashion documentaries, workshops, masterclasses and unforgettable parties.  

“We are proud to be a festival where female artists and designers are appreciated, welcome and respected even more than their male counterparts.” – Tuna Yilmaz about the 4th Edition of Fashion Film Festival Istanbul.

But we wanted to know more about the importance of fashion film and how a brand can use this way to communicate better a stronger vision, we wanted to know more, so we met Tuna Yilmaz for an exclusive interview about fashion film.

The INTERVIEW with Tuna Yilmaz

TPM: Describe Tuna Yilmaz in five words. 

Tuna Yilmaz: 40, impatient, well-traveled, runner and tired.

TPM: How and when did you become interested in producing a Fashion Film Fest Istanbul?

Tuna Yilmaz: It was 2014 that I decided to combine my two passions in life: film and fashion. I had been working on both fields for quite some time but never had had the chance to be in a project where I could enjoy them. So I decided to organize such an event and also wanted to be the pioneer of fashion film notion in Turkey.

TPM: What is a fashion film? 

Tuna Yilmaz: Well, there is no official or certain definition of it. But I’d like to define it as a film in which there is a dominant fashion taste. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a film about a brand’s collection. It might even be a film abut the world view of a designer. Actually this wide range of different ideas and styles make the fashion film genre very interesting and appealing.

TPM: What makes fashion film different to other short film genres?

Tuna Yilmaz: Fashion films are short, mostly non-conversational and very stylish. You see fashion design elements and never ask for a narrative story. A film should tell e a story but a fashion film has no obligation to do so.

TPM: What is the message you want to send through Fashion Film Fest Istanbul? 

Tuna Yilmaz: I’d like to underline the fact that we need to support young talents and provide a bridge between them and big brands. Istanbul is the perfect location for that. As a natural between two continents, I want Fashion Film Festival Istanbul to be the greatest meeting point for filmmakers, designers, brands and media.

TPM: What was the biggest challenge for you in the process of making this festival?

Tuna Yilmaz: Certainly it was and is the financial needs. An event as such can never be organized without financial support. Finding it is still my biggest challenge because we don’t sell tickets to our audiences or ask for a submission fee from filmmakers. We mostly depend on the sponsors. It is always a big challenge to convince sponsors that this is a cultural event not a commercial one.

TPM: What is the importance of short films/documentaries for fashion brands? 

Tuna Yilmaz: A fashion film is now the greatest way of building a brand image. We are in the internet age and it is very easy to distribute the film to bigger audiences. Also it combines film, music, style together with the clothes and accessories. It is the ultimate way of telling the story of a brand or a collection. This will be understood better in the next few years to come.

TPM: What are the key elements to making an effective fashion film?

Tuna Yilmaz: I think first thing is aesthetics. But it should never be forgotten that this is a “film”. Its essential relationship with fashion does not change a thing. For a good fashion film, one needs to produce a good “film” first.

TPM: Who is inspiring you in cinema? And in fashion industry? 

Tuna Yilmaz: I am always inspired by the works and persona of David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai and Michelangelo Antonioni. In fashion, I am always impressed by Tom Ford’s visual world.

TPM: What is a difference between a fashion film and advertisement?

Tuna Yilmaz: For me it is simple: an advertisement’s main goal is to increase sales. However a fashion film indirectly does that. It is more produced for building an image, showing the brand DNA and introducing a collection.

TPM: Can you mention some qualities that a filmmaker needs to have to gain the Fashion Film Fest Istanbul? 

Tuna Yilmaz: Their films should be interesting. Budget is not an issue here; one may produce a fashion film with a very small and limited budget and still come with an interesting film in the end. It should not be too long, it needs to be short enough to give the audience an idea. It should not be pretentious, it should not show off. A fashion film needs to be honest and clear to be selected for our festival.