Emre Şahin, the creator and director of the new Netflix series ‘Midnight At The Pera Palace’, tells us about his project.

Can you give us some information about your new Netflix project ‘Midnight At The Pera Palace’?

‘Midnight At The Pera Palace’ tells the story of a young journalist, Esra and what happens to her when she encounters the Pera Palace Hotel. Esra is sent to the hotel to conduct some research for an article and discovers that Room 411 is a passage to the year of 1919. So she travels in time and stumbles upon a political intrigue. Esra now will try to correct the course of history and the future with Ahmet, the cunning hotel manager. As soon as Esra meets charming and mysterious Halit, the owner of İstanbul’s posh night club, she realizes that nothing and nobody is what they seem to be in 1919 İstanbul.

How did you come up with the project?

When the Charles King book (with the same title) first came out I read it right away and really liked it. It was a book researching an important period in Turkish history, ranging from the end of the 19th century to modern times. It was almost like the hotel, which witnessed that period, was narrating the story in the book. The book portrayed and told the stories of many interesting guests who stayed at the hotel during this period. So we were inspired by the book and took it from there to build our own story. We tried to figure out what someone from our time would feel if he or she comes to the hotel and travels in time. That is what we based our interesting and fun story on. I always have felt that there was a special bond between me and the hotel. Maybe I was there in a past life:)

Can you also tell us about working at the hotel? How was it?

Very few of the scenes were actually shot at the hotel. We built almost an exact duplicate of the hotel in our studio. But I really enjoyed being in the hotel during the scenes we shot there. Especially during the scenes shot at the hotel’s ballroom, I got goosebumps. That ballroom witnessed so many important historical events and hosted many important people. We relived some of those events while filming and this was very exciting for us.

Another project of yours, the documentary/series ‘Rise of Empires: Ottoman’ can also be viewed on Netflix. Both projects are historical productions. How interested in history are you?

I really am very interested in history. I can say that I am a real ‘history nerd’. Especially in a city like İstanbul, we live as a part of history and I really believe that this is mainly what gives the city its vibe. We have a lot to learn from history.

You worked with actor Ali Atay in a previous film; ‘40’. In this project you worked with his wife Hazal Kaya. Can you compare the two? Both are very well-known, talented and hard working actors.

First of all, both are extremely talented, needless to say. Both are very professional and commited. They really add a lot to the project they are involved in. It is a great pleasure to work with them, both of them… They pass on their energy to everyone working on set. Hazal’s discipline and tedious work while preparing for her role was amazing.

You have received many awards. Does any one of them have a special meaning for you?

I never have been a person interested in awards. Of course it is nice that people like and appreciate what you do but awards are not a reason why I do what I do. But if I were to choose one, it would be the awards I received for my first short movie I shot when I was in college.

What are your future plans? Which projects will we see you work on?

Right now there are many projects I am working on. They are all at different stages. Some are being filmed in Turkey, some abroad. I can say that I have planned five years ahead already. I hope I will be able to share what these projects are with you soon.

You come from a multi_cultural family. Your father is Turkish, your mother is American. You have lived both in Turkey and the United States. I also come from a similar background and I believe that I have benefited from this in my journalism career. Do you feel the same way?

I travelled back and forth between Turkey and the US all my life. I do believe that this has an amazing effect on how I view things. My friends in the US called me ‘a Turk’, whereas friends in Turkey thought I was ‘American’. Thus I learned to be objective, to look at things from both sides, in and out. This can be observed in my storytelling. Every story has more than one perspective and all can be true and false at the same time. When you look at stories like this, they suddenly become more colorful and reveal more layers.