From London to Istanbul and now in Helsinki. My Number 11 is Serdar Ferit, writer and film director.
Where are you from? I was born and raised in England. My parents are originally from Cyprus and they moved to the UK in the Seventies.
For how long have you been living in Helsinki? I’ve been living here for almost exactly one year. It was a special start because we had a baby and he came really early, five weeks earlier than expected. So that was last year December and that took really centre stage.
How do you like Helsinki? I like many aspects of it. That’s cliché: how organised it is, if I loose something I’m probably going to get it back. I like that there’s not a lot of traffic and not a lot of litter on the floor. The circles of friends we have are very nice.
Do you already have a favourite spot here? In Helsinki I like the chips they serve in Grotesk and also the cocktails there. I like the Sushi buffet in Konnichiwa in Kamppi; and I like being near the water in the city centre when it’s warm, but its seems so long ago that it was warm (laughs) and so long later that it’s going to be warm again (laughs more). It’s obviously lovely to sit outside at nine p.m. in a t-shirt and have a drink. Those days you have time to do that, that’s just wonderful. But my most favourite place is the summer cottage of my wife’s family, but that’s not in Helsinki.
What do you do for a living? I co-own a small production company called writethisdown and we’ve done lots of fiction and non-fiction works, for instance short films, music videos, documentaries, television programs and so much more. Writethisdown was set up in 2005. We’ve worked in about 20 countries and we managed to survive and we’ve never done a marketing campaign. So it has all been through word of mouth.
We managed to connect with lots of people in the world, in different countries, in different jobs and different stations of life. One of the things we’ve done well is make people feel comfortable in front of the camera and get an emotional response when telling a story.
How often did you radically change your life? Well, I’ve moved countries twice in the last five years and that’s probably the biggest change; and then we’ve had a baby and got married but I guess pretty much everyone does that (laughs). So we moved from London to Istanbul. We lived there for 1,5 years. We loved Istanbul, but when my wife got pregnant we decided to come to Finland so she could be close to her family.
What is your dream? To do what we’ve been doing on a bigger scale; to tell beautiful and meaningful stories. And connect with lost of people.
What have you been proud of lately? I’m proud of our interactive documentary even though it’s not finished. I presented the idea at a festival here called Oppi and there I just walked up to the Rovio representative and I told them the story about our interactive documentary and they seemed really interested and we’ve had some meetings with Rovio and they invited us to Slush this year, that wasn’t through introduction that was really organic. That was good.
Our interactive documentary is about a village in Ethiopia were men and women are equal. It’s a positive, hopeful story from a very poor country in Africa. And we’re very fond of this story. We’ve been making it with our own resources for a long time. We’ve had some funding for it but not very long. Every time we show it, I’m very proud of that.
Do you have a life or a business mantra that keeps you going? I don’t have one that I’m specifically following. I just know that if you want to do something you just got to keep at it. There are a lot of people I know, who are very good at what they did in this business, who have given up and moved on to something else. And I understand that they do that for security reasons.
Do you think you’re a relaxed person? Yes, I think I am. I never feel that kind of fear of safety loss, like living under the bridge because I know my parents will just take care of me; maybe that’s childish but I never feared that. And my parents aren’t wealthy. They were both teachers and are now retired. It’s not that I’m a rich kid.
The older you grow, what’s getting easier for you? Nothing (laughs). I think I can do my work quicker, write better and shoot better with the camera.
Thanks very much, Serdar!