Ayse Toprak

Mr. Gay Syria


I loved attending Greenhouse for too many reasons but I’ll try to summarize here.
First of all, as producer/director who worked at Al Jazeera for many years, when I started developing Mr. Gay Syria, I was sure that I would get all the funds I needed to complete my film, but more importantly, I thought I knew exactly what my story was going to be. And when all the rejections kept coming, I could not make sense of any, blaming institutions for not getting the ideas behind my film. Thus, Greenhouse workshops almost became an educational institution for me, where I learned that the language of cinema is much more complex, and that it is full of feelings and that telling a feature length story that can touch hearts and minds is a challenging task. With this realization, I managed to take my film a step further, and another step further every time I attended a seminar at Greenhouse. I think one of the most valuable things that I got from the workshops is the fact that they pushed me to the best of my abilities so that I could become a better storyteller.
Secondly, Greenhouse was a safe space with amazing mentors who were only there to make my film better, and colleagues who had similar world views to mine. Everyone who attended, regardless of where they came from, believed in democratic values and the equality of people regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sect, gender or political belief. This was very valuable for me, as we live in a region where everything is constantly at the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Lastly, even after the seminars were over, Greenhouse held my hand and became an advocate of the film. Not only did they spend time watching various rough cuts to give feedback, they helped me connect to funders who can be very difficult to reach out to. I think this was also partially because the staff and my mentors had become good friends at this pointJ And I have a feeling that they will somehow be there for me in my next projects. This is a feeling that gives me strength.