Some form of melancholy

Aylin Tezel on exploring intersecting journeys in Falling Into Place

by Jennie Kermode

Falling Into Place
Falling Into Place Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

From the moment that Kira (Aylin Tezel) and Ian (Chris Fulton) meet, it’s clear that there’s something between them that goes beyond just sexual attraction. They have instant chemistry, and every moment of their adventure together on the Isle of Skye is electric. What makes Falling Into Place unusual, however, is that instead of following them as they immediately embark on a romance, we see them part and go back to their separate lives. They spend most of the film apart, and we see how that connection, and the shift in perspective it has precipitated, changes how they relate to everything else they have to deal with.

As well as starring, Aylin wrote and directed the film. Shortly before the 2024 Glasgow Film Festival, where it’s due to screen, I met up with her to ask about that central concept and the process of developing it.

Aylin Tezel
Aylin Tezel

“To be honest with you, I didn't know much when I was writing the script,” she says. “It was nearly like I was watching my own film while I was writing it, so I never really knew what was happening. I kind of knew that two people would meet in a rather remote place and that those two people would then part and that we would follow them into each of their lives, but I didn't know much about the characters. Pretty much like the audience. I watched two souls meet, and followed them into their everyday lives.

“I then found out what they are actually doing in their lives, like what their jobs are, who their friends are, who their partners are, who their ex partners are. That was all stuff that I explored together with them while I followed them on their journey. And what was really interesting for me was the idea of how energy between two people develops even when they're not in the same physical space, even when they're not in touch. Like, how can someone leave such an imprint with you that it has an influence on how you are in the world?”

They're both in quite fragile places before they meet, I note, so the impact relates to that as well. It's something that's difficult for both characters because they need to make sure that they're not just coming together because of that, because of all the pressures in their lives, rather than something real that belongs to the two of them.

“Yeah. I think what I always loved about the whole idea of this was that, yes, I am telling a love story with this, and there's two people that we get to meet and we might hope that they run into each other again. But really, for me, it was more the journey of two individual people. What I was interested in is: was that the one thing that really, that they both have, even when they are very different characters and even when they interact with the world in very different ways?

“Kira is much more held back. She's much more the person on the outside who's watching what's happening. And Ian is more this really fiery, super charming, super flirtatious person, out there constantly performing so that the people around him cannot look into what's actually going on deep inside. So they are both very different characters. But the one thing that is the same for both is that they both don't have much love for themselves, and they are actually very insecure. They are trying to find love or appreciation through other people around them because they can't find it in themselves. And that is really what I was interested in, this vulnerability about those two characters.”

The style of the film changes dramatically after we leave Skye. It must have been exhausting shooting the rapidly paced early scenes if lots of repeat takes were needed.

“Yeah.” She laughs. “The beautiful thing was that I always knew that one of the methods that I would want to work with for this film is improvisation. So already in the audition process, when I worked with my actors, I already tried out improv scenes to see who's up for this kind of very spontaneous, very lively momentum. Especially in some of the early scenes between Kira and Ian, when they're having fun in the streets. That scene with the clapping of hands and coming up with ideas of who they could be, what they could play, this was all in the script. But then what I did on the day was that I said to Chris, ‘Well, which of the things in the script do you find funny? And do you have other ideas?’

“And so him and I, then, we just came up with new things and different things. And so the actual moment of playing the scene was a mix of something scripted and something very free. Which then, of course, we had to repeat. We had to do loads and loads of takes. But I guess because we actually had so much fun together, and we had a really strong chemistry together, that was what gave us the energy to go into the whole joyous part of the story.”

I tell her that I love the optimism of the film. Kira, in particular, expects everything is going to go wrong for her, and then people are just nice and help her when she doesn't expect it. Was that something that seemed important to explore?

“Yeah. I mean, to be honest with you, what was important to me was to not shy away from the fact that those two characters also have very dark sides about them. So it’s not just a romcom or something very light. We show that they are also people who are doing things that we might really disagree with or which might, for a moment, might make us not like the characters anymore. But I think my overall commitment to romance and the belief in love in whichever form it comes, that was just something that I was very committed to. And that's why I liked having good things happen to people in the film as well, and having characters show up who have a good heart, which my characters might not always see straight away.

“I liked working with hope in this story because that's the message that I wanted to send out. We're all humans and we all fail a lot and we all make mistakes, but we deserve chances, and we deserve to hope and to love and to believe and to trust.”

I mention a moment early on, before the characters have met, when they’re both riding across Skye on the bus and Kira notices the salmon farms off the coast. She’s in a beautiful place but it’s as if her mind is still focused on feeling trapped. Aylin says that she didn’t out that in there consciously, but we agree that one of the great things about creative work is that one often discovers additional things in it later – perhaps things that come from the subconscious.

“I think, in general, the landscape on the Isle of Skye was really important to me as a mirror to what was going on in the story and what was going on in the characters,” she says. “There's some form of melancholy, I would say, in that dramatic landscape, in the fog in the morning, in the quick changes of weather, in the wide fields. There's just some form of poetic melancholy and some form of loneliness that I felt when I was there and that I saw in the landscape, that I liked to become a mirror of what the characters were going through.”

When Kira gets back to London we are brought rapidly up to date by a montage in which she’s resuming her busy social life.

“I guess what I really loved was that we were daring to make a very clear break in the story after 30 minutes or so in the film, where there are two parts and we follow them into each of their lives, which are happening in London. Also the contrast between the Isle of Skye and London. The contrast in the sound, in the images, just in the amount of people around them, is very strong. On the Isle of Skye, sometimes it feels like Ian and Kira are the only people, and then we arrive in London and suddenly there's a lot of people there and there's a lot of energies around them and a lot of influences.

“What I like about it, though, is that the loneliness that they carry is the same loneliness that they still carry, even when they are more active in a louder place, in a place with much more distraction. You're always bringing what's inside, you're always bringing that with you. And I think especially in the character of Kira, you can see that she's really struggling with the fact that she's so insecure with herself. She's not able to respect herself enough. She's trying to make someone love her who has already left her.

“That was something that I thought comes out even more when you put someone in a world that's very lively and that's also very loving. Kira especially lives in a loving surrounding. She has lovely friends, and she meets a lovely new person who's giving her a job, and things are, from the outside, going well for her. But still, she's the same person who cannot let go of a big pain inside her. So that's what she needs to approach.”

It must have been quite an emotionally draining part to play.

“Yeah. I mean, to be honest with you, I've played a lot of challenging roles in my life. But this is the first time that I was a director and an actor, and it was a challenge because Kira is such a vulnerable character, so open. She has a lot of emotional scenes, and not to give away a lot, but I guess we are okay to say that there is a sex scene in the film that is not a very loving scene for her.

“In moments like those, it was hard for me to play a character that is so vulnerable and then, at the same time, to be this director who's very much in charge and available to everyone constantly. Usually when you come on set as an actor, you play your very emotional scene, and then afterwards you have a director who gives you a hug and says ‘Well done!’ Or you have someone else who says to you ‘Are you okay? Do you need a coffee? Do you need a break?’ So you have a lot of lovely people around you, and you can take your time and you can get over an emotional moment to prep for the next scene. And these moments in between weren't there for me. I didn't have those times. I was also the person who needed to say cut.

“It worked, but I really needed to focus, and I really needed to put my everything into this. At the same time, I really loved being able to make my own decisions for a character without having to fulfil another person's vision. I could fulfil my own vision of the character. And that was obviously a huge gift.”

I note that most people in the UK will be most familiar with her from her appearance in Scrapper, which did really well. It was nominated for a lot of awards. How does she feel about that film and its success?

“For me, it was such a sweet thing to do because I only came in there for, I think, two scenes,” she says. “It was a very small appearance. But I just loved Charlie [Charlotte Regan], the director. I just loved her so much. I thought she was just brilliant. And I had seen her short films. I loved her work. I was really curious to work with her. Even when it was just a small role, it was lovely for me to get to know her, and to get to know Molly [Manning Walker], who did the camera. She also had her own directorial début, How To Have Sex, but in Charlie's film, she was the DoP. So it was just two amazing women that I got to work with, and it was a lovely little experience for me. “

Having Falling Into Place selected to screen in Glasgow has also made her very happy.

“I'm so excited because we were based in Glasgow and we shot most of our London scenes in Glasgow,” she says. “We had to cheat a lot of London into Glasgow because obviously it's much more expensive to shoot in London. We only went there for certain exterior shots, but we did a lot of the interior stuff in Glasgow and we did the whole prep there. And most of my Scottish team was from there. My DoP, Julian Krubasik, and I lived in Glasgow for two and a half months, and we had our little routines. We had our favourite organic shop near Kelvingrove Park that we always used to go to.”

I ask if she means Roots and Fruits, and she nods and says yes.

“When one lives somewhere, it really starts to become your home. And it was quite hard for me to leave Glasgow again when it was clear that we were done with the whole Isle of Skye bit, with the Glasgow bit, and then we went to shoot in London and to shoot a little bit in Germany as well. It was hard for me to leave my little apartment there, and I have only good memories. So to bring the film home to Glasgow feels very good, and I can't wait to see my team and to just watch the film together with them.”

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