22 February 2018

Access to Cinematic Knowledge - The Film Training Programme in Hungary

The Hungarian film industry is having to deal with skills shortages. This concerns a wide range of jobs including script supervisor, production accountant, storyboard artist and post-production coordinator.

Although there is an increasing number of international productions being shot in the country, this also means that there are less available professionals for smaller and domestic films. To alleviate the shortage and increase the competitiveness of local film production, a complex initiative called the Film Training Programme was launched by the Training and Innovation Department of the National Film Fund.

The legal and financial foundation of the programme was implemented in the Motion Picture Act in 2016, according to which any production that receives indirect financial support through tax initiatives in Hungary must pay 0.5% (a maximum of HUF 15 million) of its production costs into the fund for film training. And any production with a budget above HUF 10 million must employ interns for five weeks, where numbers depend on production costs.

Krzysztof Zanussi (Photo: Gábor Valuska)

From the obligatory training contribution of the motion picture industry, the Film Fund invites tenders for training institutions that have already started or plan to start vocational training in the roles described in the tender. Besides using the support to cover the expenses of the course, winners must provide their training for free or at least at a discounted price. The winning programme of the tender in 2016 included training for VFX artists, focus pullers, DITs and assistant directors.

A website has been developed in order to channel students and newcomers into the internships. ‘Filmesgyakornok’ (film intern) aims to connect potential interns with ongoing productions. The site lists productions with available internships and provides news and information about film productions and education opportunities, and producers can see a database of interns with their educational background, professional experience and a choice of roles they would like to gain experience in.

The Film Fund launched the FFP for those in film education or wanting to further their professional skills. The programme offers monthly practice-oriented workshops and masterclasses for free. These intensive training courses are held by internationally acclaimed professionals and mainly focus on areas that are not at all or only somewhat present in Hungarian film education.

Martin Daniel (Photo: János Posztós)

The FFP’s kick-off in October 2017 was an all-day workshop on creating posters and trailers and on general marketing strategies. Its first month focused on topics revolving around film marketing and distribution. The guests invited to give lectures were the film marketing professional John Durie, the editor Fraser Bensted and the graphic artist Gijs Kuijper. The next step in the programme was a presentation given by András Kálmán, a legal expert and media sociologist who has primarily worked as a distributor. In his masterclass he presented the complex procedure of how an audience chooses what to watch and what manipulates them in their decisions. To close the first thematic block of the FFP, the film business expert Ildikó Takács talked about the value chain that goes from an original idea to actually selling a film.

The second month of the programme focused on film production. Carmen Tabányi held a 6-day workshop on script supervising, which also included the opportunity to gain practical experience on a film set. Building on her 15 years of experience in Hollywood, Tabányi detailed the complexities of her role, one that creates a bridge between production and post-production. The screenwriter and university professor Martin Daniel followed-up by giving a talk on his craft as well as a workshop where he looked at treatments written by the participants. A milestone of the programme was the masterclass given by the Polish auteur-director Krzysztof Zanussi in which he talked about art and narratives in the postmodern world. This was followed by a workshop where film students could consult him about their film ideas. Another event was the EP2C Post-Production Workshop which taught participants how to design the financial and technical aspects of the post-production process, as well as the challenges of a co-production environment. Among the future planned programmes of the FFP are workshops on the art of the pitch, European film finance and low budget filmmaking, directing masterclasses by John McTiernan and Vic Armstrong.

Adam Harangozó