A lecture with Róbert Koltai

A Directing class with Róbert Koltai

The first time I saw him, was at the garden of ELTE-BTK while he was talking to Jenő Hódi. Quickly I turned to my friends, and just like an enthusiastic fan, I whispered ‘He is finally here!’. Róbert Koltai is a Jászai Mari award winner actor, director, writer who held a lecture for the students of the Budapest Film Academy majored in directing.

In the class room, mysterious semi-darkness was waiting for him, only a standing lamp’s yellow light, and the projector’s white light filled the room, which forecast that it’s going to be legendary.

There was a great silence and rapt attention from the Hungarian students, which was only disturbed by the foreign student who wanted to know who entered the room. Koltai started to talk so naturally that the atmosphere became very informal, easy going. He started to tell the stories, and we listened.

I started the directing course in September, so honestly I am absolutely a beginner in the field. But maybe because of this, his speech was so inspirational and hopeful. He told us about his first movie “Sose halunk meg”. We learned about its background story, what gave him the idea to make it, how he lost the project because one of his plot writer friend talked him out of it. Eight years passed, and he began to rethink the idea…he organized the production, talked with the actors, and colleagues about the basics of the movie, later he tried to find the money to make his movie, he almost succeeded, 3 million Forint was still missing. It looked like his project was about to be forgotten again, but he was so sure, that this is a winner idea, that he made the impossible possible; this is a thing that a person in the movie business should never forget…Never give up! It is a long way from the idea, till the end, and along the way sometimes you have to cooperate with hundreds of other people. It could get hard, but if we have the courage and enthusiasm we can reach our goal. Of course a little luck never hurt anybody.

Róbert Koltai got through the early troubles, but the problems didn’t end when the shooting part starts. It’s never a piece of cake if you want to adapt your childhood memories to a movie, especially when you’re the lead character. A lot of people don’t believe that it could be a great project. But Koltai had something that a lot of other directors didn’t. He had many great experts to work with: Mari Miklós editor, Gábor Halász cameraman, and László Dés composer, who helped to make sure on set and also in the editing room that the scenes are perfectly harmonized musically.

Finally they finished the movie, and it became a huge hit: Thanks to Béla Bunyik producer, the president of Entertainment (who also attended this lecture) Koltai’s movie was invited to the New YorkFilm Festival.

Now this production is over 20 years old, but in this lecture Hungarians and foreign students laughed together. Koltai’s key to success is that the film makers have to speak to the audience with a great hadusovzky petraamount of humor. If you have that, it is going to be really hard to find a scene where you want to stop watching the movie!

Hadusovzky Petra ( ELTE-Budapest Film Academy)