Mustafa Yasar II, MFA ’22, Writing for the Screen

What got you interested in screenwriting?
I’ve written a lot ever since I was a little kid. Throughout my undergrad program I did a lot of different types of writing: film reviews, fiction, short stories, a novella. But it wasn’t until the middle of my undergraduate years that I got interested in movies. I transferred into LMU and applied to the screenwriting program, but didn’t get in. So I became an English major instead. I learned a lot about stories and literature in my coursework, but I studied movies in my free time, which also helped me write better reviews.

Who are some of the writers and filmmakers you admire?
My favorite movie of all time is Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev, about a Russian icon painter and his life. Tarkovsky talks about the concept of poetics—that movies don’t just show what happened, they also portray social context and how people are feeling. Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata founded Studio Ghibli together. Their films are so evocative and colorful; they describe things that you would think are just for children, but they do it in a universal way. Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust is beautiful. I’ve seen it three or four times and I was really struck by the idea that she can take different aspects of Black culture and sum them all up so skillfully. And I've always been struck by Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s rooted in emotion, relationships, and sadness, in a way. I’ve always been interested in art that explores the idea that sadness is a natural part of life. 

How’s your experience at SFTV been so far?
I came into film school accustomed to writing alone and studying alone. It can be hard and isolating to work this way. So it’s affirming to be in a place where everyone around me is interested in storytelling and in being creative. That’s what’s most impressed me about the program—that everyone is willing to talk through what they’re doing, to share the writing experiences and the frustrations they’re having, and to work with and encourage each other. It’s really cool that we’re all learning our craft at the same time, we’re trying to become better writers every day, and we’re doing it together.