Thoughts of an old Budapest Film Academy screenwriting student about her success
My film is in pre-production! It’s still hard to believe, this is the dream of every writer, and now what I’ve been working and learning for is becoming a reality. I needed luck and had to be in the right place at the right time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But what I really needed is a great start, a good base, what I got first at ELTE’s aesthetics department, and later at Budapest Film Academy’s screenwriting course.
With my team, headed by Tamás Yvan Topolánszky director (Letter to God), we won the production tender of MTVA with the film CURTIZ (about the director of Casablanca). I’m writing the script. I’ve been just asked to develop a series for AMC, my second play is coming next year (starring Ildiko Bansagi), I’m making a short film at Focus Fox and applying for as many tenders as I can. How did this all happen?
Two years ago I presented my monodrama with actress Fatime Halmos at alternative theaters. The play is including 50 minutes of film footage, six characters (including Judit Pogany and the recently deceased Adam Rajhona) appear on screen, in dialogue with the actors on stage. We shot this film with crew members that I knew from Budapest Film Academy. The director of Curtiz heard about this and asked me to write the screenplay.
I’m writing about my experience because I want to encourage everyone that nothing is impossible, but good fortune alone is not enough. Jeno Hodi and the team of the Budapest Film Academy contributed with their expertise and help a lot so that I can work as a screenwriter now. I found a team in the academy who still helps me, whom I trust and we create together. I have also learned at BFA what the subtext dialogue is, how a character is built and how it can become credible and interesting. At the Budapest Film Academy I was taught how to apply for tenders, how should I pitch my story.
These are the basics that I can rely on during my career. You can be a good student only with good teachers.
Thank you for everything!
Thoughts of an old student about her experiences at Budapest Film Academy
I believe I count as an old timer at the Budapest Film Academy classes. I’ve been attending the courses for 3 years now, simply because I love the screenwriting classes. I have learned a lot, especially from Jeno Hodi, Andras Balint Kovacs and Krisztina Goda. These teachers inspired me to write four short film scripts during these years.
The script of my first film, ‘The Bird Eatress’, was based on a Spanish writer’s, Samantha Schweblin’s novel. The director was Tibor Ungvar. We made the film from our own resources with crew members from Budapest Film Academy. In the past few years the film has won several Hungarian and International awards.
My next twenty-five-minute film, called ‘It was a good story’. It was based on my own idea and we made it from our own resources again in the winter without any support. The shooting conditions were really bad, but the experience was amazing.
Meanwhile, this spring was very exciting in many ways. During the semester we have shot two films based on my screenplays.
In winter, we made the film ‘Listen to me!’ based on the novel of Christie Craig American writer and shot it with a great team and amazing actors. We are still doing the post-production of this film; hopefully it will be ready in a few weeks. We would like to send it to many festivals, as based on the feedbacks, this is our best film so far. Before this shooting, we have made a production company (Ungvarheder Production, www.ungvarhederproduction.com) with my Budapest Film Academy classmate, Tibor Ungvar, who in the meantime became my boyfriend, so we can provide an official background for our future films.
This year I had another honor, my next script based on my own idea (Play Love!) received financial support from the Hungarian Film Fund. This was the first time when we didn’t have to shoot a film from our own money. We also got equipment from ELTE. We had this summer’s harshest weather conditions during the shooting, but hats off to the crew members, as we had a fantastic atmosphere on both days and we finished the shooting one hour earlier than we planned.
Overall, I am very happy that three years ago I joined Budapest Film Academy. In addition to my dietetic job and business I have found an amazing hobby and writing became my passion. Budapest Film Academy gave me ideas, inspiration, methodology, crew members, a team, great people and also financial support for my last film.
Although we will miss it very much, now we’ll have a short break in our filmmaking career, as in this semester we have not only prepared films. Our baby is on the way…
Évi Héder (BFA)
The director’s ideas about our student film ’I Deserve It’
I have been studying at Budapest Film Academy for four years now, where I learned about screenwriting, directing and producing. Last year I was accepted for the MA program of ELTE’s Film Department.
As an ELTE student I had the exceptional possibility to direct the short film ’I Deserve It’ based on a script written by a Budapest Film Academy student. The film was financed by the Hungarian Film Fund. Both the preparation and the shooting were really exciting. I could work with professional actors, Judit Pogány, Gabriella Hámori, Lajos Kovács and Sándor Tűzkő.
With the crew (which included students mostly) we experienced the film making process that we have learned about at the Budapest Film Academy courses. We had a great team, and I would like to thank them for their conscientious work! We are already working on the editing of the film, and then we will go on with the music, the sound mix and the color grading. I can’t wait to see our film on the big screen!
I would like to say thank you to Jenő Hódi and the ELTE teachers for the opportunity to make this short film.
The director’s ideas about our student film ’Szürkehályog’
As a first-year ELTE student I started to attend the screenwriting and directing courses of Budapest Film Academy. The classes were interactive with projected presentations and concrete examples. We learned a lot from guest lecturers as well, including the renowned director, Krisztina Goda. Besides the curriculum, for me the most interesting parts were the teacher’s anecdotes about their film making experience. Because of the international classes, most of the lectures were in English, so I could practice the language as well.
In the first semester I wrote a short film script which I have worked on for weeks with the help of the teachers. With the support of Budapest Film Academy and ELTE, I could send my screenplay to the Hungarian Film Fund. With three other projects, we managed to win the financial support of the Film Fund. In my second semester at the Budapest Film Academy classes and extra meetings we started the pre-production of the film.
The crew mostly consisted of Academy students, but for example the sound engineer or the editor are ex Budapest Film Academy members with more experience. As I am an ELTE student and I am attending the directing course as well, I got the opportunity to direct the short film. The toughest part was the casting process, as we had to find a 4-year-old boy to play our main character. Finally, we have found the perfect child for the role.
The fellow students worked on the preparations enthusiastically and tirelessly. If we had any problems, we came up with a solution together. We shot our film at the Great Market Hall with three actors, 40 extras on July 22. Due to the short period of time and the crowd in the Hall, we had to operate efficiently; however, the atmosphere was really good. The little boy did an extraordinary job. It was amazing working with my team as well; by the end of the shooting they understood me even from half words. I would be happy to make another film with them anytime in the future. As a writer-director, the shooting of my first Budapest Film Academy film was an experience of a lifetime!
Bianka Szelestey (ELTE-BFA)
The director’s ideas about our student film ’Play Love!’
I have just finished my second year at the Film Department of ELTE. Last Spring, when I had to choose my courses, I realized that I don’t have enough practical ones to take. This is why I applied for the scholarship program of Budapest Film Academy and joined the directing course. I wanted to gain more practical experience in the field of film making, and this is what I got exactly.
Before joining the course I have made one short film only with a small crew from zero money. By March, I was the director of a short film based on a script written by a Budapest Film Academy student. The film was funded by the Hungarian Film Fund. I got more than I wanted, so I am very grateful. The shooting was a great experience and I felt very lucky. Thank you very much! I’m going on with so much that I have learned.
The director’s ideas about our student film ’Memmod’
I have just finished the second year of my BA program at ELTE’s Film Department. Last semester I applied for the directing course of Budapest Film Academy. I had no idea what a great experience this semester will be.
A couple of weeks after the start of the course Jeno Hodi asked me if I want to direct one of the short films funded by the Hungarian Film Fund. First I was a little bit scared because of the lack of experience. It was a great honor, as it was my dream since I was little to become a film director.
The first few weeks were very hard. First I had to clarify what are the exact tasks of a director and I had to think through the steps of pre-production.
Fortunately, I got a lot of help from my Budapest Film Academy crew, so we started location scouting and doing the casting soon. Sometimes we run into a dead end, but in the end we found the perfect location, and what we were even more pleased about, we found the perfect actors.
I’ve never dreamed about working with such great actors like Peter Rudolf or Gabor Reviczky, but unbelievably, they have accepted the offered roles. I received a lot of help from them, and I could learn a lot from their advice and ideas.
Finally, the shooting day has arrived. On the first day I was still scared and too nervous, but by the second day I was standing in front of the cast and crew confidently. By the end of the shooting I had no doubt that I want to do this for the rest of my life. It was an incredible experience. I know I still have to learn a lot, but this semester was so amazing that I will never forget it.
The shooting of a student film
The Facebook page of the Budapest Film Academy is mostly filled with our students’ comments. It offers a possibility for our young filmmakers to write about our courses, lectures, experiences. With this note I break this custom and write a few remarks as a teacher of our Film Academy.
Last week we shot a film written and directed by Marika Mohácsi. She is studying at ELTE in the master program, and also takes classes at the Budapest Film Academy.
BFA Film students who have been with us for a couple of semesters helped Marika to make this short film. A few very accomplished actors joined the team as well.
The shooting started on time. I visited the set a couple of times for a few hours and I was very glad to see that the young filmmakers did not need me. Everything was progressing without any problems. They kept the schedule and moved along in a good space.
What gave me even more pleasure was that I saw a crew who worked together extremely well. One could feel that not only students are on the set who love filmmaking, but also that the crew members liked and respected each other. It was so great to see that these guys and girls became really good friends during our previous student films, at our classes, or even after the lectures when they probably went out to have a beer together. There was no sign of tension, conflict; friends, Budapest Film Academy students, were making a short film together.
It was a real pleasure seeing all of you work. Thank you.
Director of the Budapest Film Academy