I was so sad when I found out that I completely missed the event with Nimród Antal organized part of the Film Writer’s Weekend by the Hungarian National Film Fund. More precisely, I didn’t even receive an invite. That’s why I was glad to read on Facebook that the Budapest Film Academy also invited Nimród for an open lecture. I signed up for it right away. On the day of the lecture I arrived with a curious mind. The auditorium was full of people. I am, although, not a filmmaker, I paid great attention and even took some notes as Nimród spoke, because I’m writing a book on films.
The opening question was: what does a talented filmmaker need to become successful? We all know there are lots of people in the industry who, although talented, disappear after one or two films, or never get the chance in the first place. According to Nimród, you need to be a little naïve so you’re not afraid of anything. There’s a lot of humiliation, criticizing, you have to hold on. If you decide to do something, stick to it! No plan B! Furthermore, it’s important to have passion, determination and enthusiasm, while staying realistic and open. Listen to other people’s advices as well.
Filmmaking is a team effort, where everyone is equal. About 3-4 days in during shooting, Nimród already knows everyone’s name in the crew. To the question whether he likes test screenings for a movie, he said no. Instead he likes to leave the finished project and return after a week or so to have a fresh look on the film. We see the end product with different eyes after a bigger break. I was very happy that I could attend the lecture, because Nimród is an honest, hard-working, experienced man, who awaits great success in his career.
If there’s no work, well, that’s embarrassing!” Nimród Antal, in his personal lecture, talked about the screenplays he got after his hit movie Kontroll, and how he declined them at first. Only later when the need was there, he accepted the first (Vacancy) realizing there’s no shameful job, it’s only embarrassing when you don’t have one. We have to say yes even to not really challenging films and try to make the best of them.
Nimród Antal is a successful filmmaker in and out of Hungary, so you would think that someone who’s been this outstanding would at least have a little bit of an expected ego. But you can’t say that about Antal. An endlessly kind, funny and direct man stood in front of us, talking with enthusiasm all the way. He took the questions well, answering everything with ease. If not for else, this makes the event already a really positive experience.
Although, what I really liked about it is the way he talked, and not least the things he said. As he emphasized many times, he doesn’t bullshit, doesn’t talk hot air, instead he opened up to us: he was honest, eccentric, and he even admitted that he hates Bergman’s films in front of a crowd of film students, which was a brave thing. We’ve seen not only a highly professional filmmaker in front of us, but a true person, one who likes to eat, who can’t handle money, who only cares about filmmaking, and whose kid takes karate lessons.
Personally, I would just like to add that I’m thankful I could take part in this lecture. I learned a lot and laughed a lot. Sadly, this was the first Budapest Film Academy event I attended, but I want to be there in every future lecture so I can meet and listen to interesting people and if everything goes well I can even learn.
Gábor Pál Gelencsér
During summer I attended a several Budapest Film Academy lectures, so I was very excited about the next one.
Nimród Antal is talented, he has a great sense of humor and he’s always energetic. It was a positive experience right off the start how he opened with an enthusiastic, motivating speech. You need to be persistent, need to have a proper attitude, and possess great will-power if you want to be a filmmaker in this industry.
He talked us through a movie’s making process: from the screenplay through casting and working with the crew to post-production. He talked about his experiences, mistakes we need to learn from.
For me it wasn’t just a conversation, but a useful and interesting lecture, during which I took many notes and hopefully I can use them later in my film studies.
Arrogant, full of himself and endlessly antipathetic – I said each time Nimród Antal’s name came up in a conversation. When I told others that on Monday I’m going to a lecture held by him, I was bombarded by dumbfounded questions why I’m attending it, to which I answered consequently: “I want to see him in person finally so I can be really confident about my opinion of him.” And my repulsion perfectly remained – until he stood down and greeted the crowd.
The moment he opened his mouth, he won me. Nimród Antal spoke with humbleness, love and what’s most important: honestly, about the industry, his life, people, everything. He opened up to us and I think we couldn’t get a bigger present than that. It sounds like a cliché, but in the twelve years I spent in school I never learned as much as I have in this three hours, even though I was lucky to hear quite a few Hungarian and international experts of the film industry. I’m not sure if I will manage to remember all the technical aspects he talked about, but it wasn’t his fault. One thing is for sure: I will never forget the anecdotes about Polanski, commercials and of course, Kontroll.
In the lecture I learned that if I determine to do something, I can make it come true – without help of others, not coming from the industry, just like Nimród Antal did. And I also learned how to handle the crew and just generally people.
Now if someone asks me my opinion about him, I will once again say three things: direct, open and endlessly sympathetic. Thank you!
For me, the most important thing I took home is the enthusiastic, young but wise attitude with which Nimród talked about his profession. I, who directed and wrote a couple of independent movies, despite the auditorium being hot, simply felt that I needed to grab a camera again as soon as I can and call up my old filmmaker mates to start working on something new – even if we don’t have money. I think for an artist there couldn’t be a more important message or more so effect of the lecture.
We found out a lot about the differences in the Hungarian and American filmmaking, how to get along abroad if you want great success. It was comforting but at the same time exciting to hear about his opposition to the system in Hollywood which prefers to fill movies with stars to sell them, instead of concentrating on the screenplay, the director’s personality, and the potentials the material holds.
It was a bit frightening to hear that over there lawyers in suits and businessmen, who have nothing to do with filmmaking and their only knowledge is learning endless statistic data, decide the fate of screenplays. Nimród told many stories about people like them, even in Hungary, like one time he was shooting at Balaton and a businessman who funded the project wanted to check if he likes the shot, but instead of looking into the camera he peaked into a small of hole at the end of the pan rod. And if that wasn’t enough, he started nodding heavily saying he likes the shot.
István Nyíri Kovács
The auditorium was filled with people who came for Nimród Antal’s lecture. I had high hopes for this event, and not only it manage to fulfil it, but it was more than I ever expected. I prepared my usual notepad to take notes of things I think are important, but I quickly realized this is not going to be a note-taking class. It was rather about sharing experiences and (not) following the rules. He told us many interesting stories about the crews he worked with. The people he had a good relationship with, the people he didn’t. Nimród walked us through his experiences of the making of a film from pre to post production.
He talked about every single aspect: the screenplay, choosing the cast, keeping the crew motivated, and the stuff that goes down in the editing room. He had a story for every area of filmmaking, which he told in a striking way filled with lots of humor.
I, as an acting student, already knew the most important rule: you have to take notice of everyone’s idea. You can play it out or shoot a scene in a more ways to decide later which one is best. Sometimes the ideas that seemed the worst turn out to be winner. The other thing, which we also practice, is to go ahead with whatever idea we have, and if it turns out to be bad you can always say sorry, but don’t ask for permission. Do it, don’t explain it, that’s the only way to see the result.