Swords & Horses – Q&A with Ali Ören

Ali Oren is an award-winning Foley Artist based in Istanbul, Turkey. His work has featured in over 300 TV shows and 100 movies in Turkey and internationally and he also performs live on stage, for audio books and charity events. His most famous work features in the phenomenally successful Turkish period dramas Dirilis: Ertegrul and Kurulus: Osman.

“Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects carefully synchronized with their visual counterpart, in the recording studio or in their naturally occurring acoustic environment, for films, television shows, radio plays, audio books and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality.” 

Ali learnt Foley Art from his father who was taught himself by Ali’s grandfather, Turgut Oren, Founder of Oren Film Studios in 1970. This was one of the very few studios in Turkey that provided audio post-production services such dubbing, sound design, colouring, subtitles, Foley and final mixing. The studio ran for three decades until Ali opened Turkey’s first dedicated Foley studio in 2011.

Can you describe your earliest influences as a young boy growing up in the family tradition of Foley Art?

My grandfather had a dubbing, subtitles and film colouring studio, but the person who started the foley art in my family was my father. My father used to record dubbing for movies with dubbing artists in our studio in Beyoglu, the historic town of Istanbul and sometimes he did the foley effects himself when they were lacking. There was no computer back then, so he was recording on gramophone records and cassettes. Growing up in such an environment, I was highly influenced by movie business and sound effects. I used to make car sounds as game. My father, noticing my interest in his business, he used to make me try some simple foley effects, such as applauding, filling a glass with water etc.

Your grandfather, Turgut Ören, founded one of the first film studios in Turkey – can you share any stories of how this tradition began and his influences in cinema?

My grandfather started to work in the 1940s in the cinema industry as one of the very few cameramen in Turkey. When he started, they were shooting black and white films. He worked for 20 years and in the meantime, they transitioned to colour movies. He has founded a colouring lab and there started colouring the films that he shot as a cameraman. Since there was no digital streaming back then, he used to colour the reels by applying chemical procedures. 

He invented a machine that produced two 16 mm reels from a 35 mm reel. It was one of the very rare products in cinema industry produced by Turkish people and it symbolized the fight of film industry against the black market. His invention was appreciated in the industry and he was honoured with a corner of his own in the Behlul Dal Sinema Museum in Antalya. 

There are so many aspects to film production – what led you to pursue a career in Foley Art rather than anything else? Can you tell us about your training and how you progressed your career?

I was impressed by our family business of course. I always found the foley art much more intriguing than other jobs of production or post production of a movie. It pushes you to be more creative and always find new ways, new tools to create different sounds.

There isn’t a special educational programme for this career in the universities in Turkey. Lately some cinema television faculties started to cover foley art inside some educational materials, but with very limited hours and they give the student just theoretical information, no practice.

I started working as an apprentice with my family as well. I gained a lot of experience by practicing different types of production, such as Tv series, cinema movies, short films, video games, digital streaming platforms etc. I literally completed my 10,000 hours and more in the sector.  I continuously work to improve my foley production by keeping up with the international trends. I keep in touch with European and overseas post production studios and try to visit them in person when I have a chance, to observe their technics and equipment.  

Apart from your own family, has anyone else internationally inspired your work?

Foley art plays an important role in the British film industry. British films have distinctive ambiance because of very detailed and elaborated foley effects. That’s why British cinema industry inspire my work. I also follow up closely Canadian post production studios, there are many successful foley studios in Canada.   


Please describe a typical day at work or on a project.

When I receive a new project, first of all I watch the unreleased film which is sent to me from beginning to end through the eyes of a spectator. I take notes of the unusual tools – props that I will need for the foley effects and then provide them. Before starting to record, I communicate with the Final Mixer and Sound Engineer to better understand the desired style and the key points to highlight in the project. We record the foley effects in 5 separate sections: 1-Footsteps, 2-prop, 3-Glass, 4-Hands, 5-Movement. After recording, me and my team, we start editing in the studio. After completing the editing I review the whole project and do the final check, afterwards I hand the project in.

What have been the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your work? Has the global pandemic affected your work in any way?

The most challenging part of the job for me is the time constraint. Usually the projects are needed to be delivered in very limited times and sometimes I can be full with multiple projects simultaneously. The most rewarding aspect of my work is when the project gains success and becomes a hit or receives an award, then I feel honoured to be part of that project. 

During the global pandemic, because of the lockdowns and the health scare outside, people spent more time at home and consumed more TV and digital streaming content. In accordance with this, there have been new series and movie productions and new digital streaming platforms were launched. On the other hand, since the movie theatres were closed for a long time, the release date of many new movies were postponed or moved to digital platforms. 

Can you tell us about your Foley studio and mixing stage. Which speakers do you use in post-production? 

I use Eve brand speakers in my studio. I am of course familiar with Miller & Kreisel studio monitors and especially admire the M&K LCR 950 THX model speakers.

Congratulations on winning several national awards and in particular, for your role in the hugely popular dramas, Dirilis: Ertegrul and Kurulus: Osman. How did you get involved in these dramas?

Thank you. I have been actively working in Turkish film industry for nearly two decades. I always work in all of the projects with devotion and precision, aiming the highest quality standards, because I care about the sustainability of my work. Thanks to the experience and business network that I have established during my career, I find the opportunity to work with various tv and cinema film production companies in Turkey. 

Both of these TV shows have been running for several years and the increased production value is noticeable from the early episodes to current ones. How has your studio or techniques evolved since the beginning? 

I continuously work to improve my foley production by keeping up with the international trends worldwide. I change my studio layout, the technical equipment that I use and the methods of my recording following the latest trends. I changed my studio space many times according to the evolving needs of my job. Recently I moved to a new studio with larger space and more detailed and elaborated ground types and various prop materials.


Which latest projects can we look forward to in coming months?

The audience’s interest in digital platforms continues to grow, which will have a positive impact on home theater systems and the home theater audience. There are many new Turkish movies and series that will be broadcast on digital platforms. Tv series will continue with their new seasons as well.


Get in touch with us today and speak with us on how we can take your immersive audio experience to the next level.

We would love for you to visit! Contact us to book your private demonstration or for any further questions.

Book a private demonstration at Zebra Home Cinema?

We would love for you to visit! Contact us to book your private demonstration or for any further questions.