I started attending the BFA screenwriting course in September. Before that, I studied art theory and some acting as well, but I only dealt with screenwriting in an amateur way. A few years ago I worked on the script of my friend’s independent film as a co-writer, and as I could really feel the characters’ personality, I helped a lot in writing dialogues. It always went better than working out the dramaturgy of the act. However, I wanted to learn that too, as you can’t be sure that you’ll always have a partner who is good at that and I can’t go far with my colorful and popular ideas and figures if the story telling is not structurally well-organized and the dramaturgy is not effective.
I like the open atmosphere at the BFA, it gives great knowledge and impulses. The classes are interactive, so you can ask questions and the students get questions as well. The main topic in the Fall semester was the short film and the practical goal was to make a script for a short film. After the informative and concise overview of the theoretical part, unfortunately we started to focus on the practical side of screenwriting.
Most of the time we analyzed the scripts of the students, we talked about each of them, and because of the useful re-write tips it was even instructive when we didn’t talk about my ideas, mainly because it’s always easier to analyze others’ and many times the mistakes I recognize in those writings are mainly my own too. I have recieved a very constructive and motivating critic that although my dialoges and characters are good, my plot’s dramaturge doesn’t really work, the whole story just does not come through. Thanks to Jeno Hodi, my course teacher and also my classmates the structure of my screenplay and dramatic line has started to develop week by week, I was more and more happy with the results as well. If a person is open to critics and tries to put the lectures to practice there is every opportunity for him to develop here. I am going to attend the course in next semester as well because writing a screenplay for a featurefilm is my long-term goal and I am sure with more education and work I am going to get closer and closer to it.
Anxiety and fear. These two feelings swirled in me on that Wednesday, when I was walking from the subway to the ELTE. I went to my first screenwriting class, and I was afraid of it. I didn’t know what will happen, how will it happen, who will be there, not even where the class will be. How can it be that this is my first class in the end of October? Actually, that was the 7th class in the middle of the semester. I joined late. Or at least later than the others.
It’s not that easy to find Room -137 in a building like a labyrinth, but it’s not impossible either. In front of the classroom there was a girl sitting. When she saw that I was trying to figure out if I was in the right place, she started talking to me. In English. It was surprising, but it was good, finally speaking with someone in English. She said, she is from the UK, and I was like “oh, that’s great, I lived there last year”. She also waited for screenwriting class. On that week, she already had producing and directing class, and on the next days she had cinematography and editing class. I thought one day she will be a real filmmaker, because here she can experience each part of the filmmaking. Budapest Film Academy gives comprehensive knowledge to their students.
When Jeno Hodi, the permanent teacher came, I saw that he wasn’t alone. There was a man with him who was the guest lecturer. We went in to the classroom, and I sat down at the center. Right in the middle of the room. There were around 15 students, but I didn’t know at the first sight who was Hungarian and who was foreign until they opened their mouth. Suddenly a boy asked me: „Are you Hungarian?”, and I said: „Yes”. He asked me again: „Do you speak English well? Because if you don’t, you should take a headset from the table.” I answered: „I think I’ll be alright” – after living one year in the United Kingdom it would be embarrasing if I have a problem with English – “but thank you!”
The guest teacher, called Andras Kovacs Balint, is a professor and founding chair of the Department of Film Studies at ELTE University. First of all, he talked about what does a good screenplay need, and then we all read every synopsis that the students wrote, and he said his opinion about those scripts.
In the second half of the semester we learned the 22 points, and we saw examples as well. A great screenplay needs most of this 22 points. Some points shows you how your hero is changing, his/her behavior turns into an other way.
The best thing was, that every class was exciting, because every class was different. We always learned new, interesting things, or we looked at a new point of view for a given situation.
The most surprising thing was, when Istvan Szabo came to teach. He is a very talented and very successful filmmaker and he came to the class like an ordinary man. He was really friendly and he gave us his knowledge, and his opinion about the synopsis.
It was very interesting to see what I, an ordinary girl from the small Budapest, think of the given synopsis, and what does a professional filmmaker think about it. I got huge knowledge and great experiences and I can’t wait for the next semester 🙂
„And where are you planning to work, at McDonald’s?” Reaction to the degree of liberal arts. I could only laugh for the first fifty times. Then came the doubt, maybe there’s some sense of reality under the weak sense of humor. So I quickly started to search for smart answers. Giving up dreams. Becoming economist, lawyer. Obeying the pressure of livelihood.
Then I became the victim of an impressive self marketing when I was sitting at Budapest Film Academy’s free class during the spring semester. Must. Get the remaining money beside the fifty percent scholarship. I remained in my victim position for a while. Until I discovered that under the marketing-coating there’s also a huge professionality. And self-awareness. First word which comes to my mind, when I think about the teachers and students of BFA. But it’s not the ELTE type of confidence, mixed with irony. Maybe that’s the reason for the fright of the new ones. I’ll never forget the first time, when my scene was discussed in class, or when I was still unpracticed in it, and I had to do the ’elevator pitch’ – which in my term is just an undiluted version of selfmarketing.
Self-awareness became my characteristic as well. Which was a huge help, when I was answering Istvan Szabo’s and Kovács András Bálint’s questions about my screenplay. I was kind of afraid, that the restrictions will kill the playfulness of art. But they just taught me the laws of the game. Which can be violated. And even if you received any kind of constructive or deconstructive criticism, Jenő gave us the freedom, that we accept just those, which we agree with, and which we can build in our stories. I’ve learnt to pay attention to the frames. These sentences will be said, these little stories can come to life thanks to the opportunities offered by BFA.
The subject of the semester emphasized the differences between intuitive and conceptual writing, the characteristics of the master scene and character intro. Although I don’t want to throw this knowledge in oblivion, yet I’m sure, that I’ll remember more clearly that somebody who was late always risked of being massacred, and that in the multicultural environment the boundaries of different languages disappeared. Once I noticed, like Jenő did always, that I didn’t remember when had we switched to English.
Besides, I always felt like as if in line with the screenwriter course, I was doing a psychology type of master class, which taught me how to find the ways of communication with different characters. The less intensive communication at university leaves untrained this necessary social muscle. Just the way conceptual writing does with intuitive.
During all this I’ve found my answer. It is possible, that I’ll work for McDonald’s. I’ll shoot their commercial.