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Happy New Year from PPM

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New Year’s day may be just around the corner, but our work doesn’t stop. Particularly when it comes to informing you about a few of the traditions and superstitions that might not be so widely known or practiced outside of Central Europe. Note that other than the culinary recommendations, these are simply mentioned as traditions, and not practiced in earnest. Hungary is rooted in a deep and textured heritage, but still forward thinking.

New Year’s in Hungary also goes by the name Szilvester, like the cat, or the action-movie hero. It is not out of a love of American cartoons or Rambo, but because December 31 coincides with the name day of the boy’s name Sylvester. If you are named Szilvester, then you are quite lucky, and can become even luckier if you eat lentils, which are supposed to bring wealth, while eating pork is said to increase luck even more. Add stuffed cabbage and nothing can possibly go wrong. Fish, on the other hand, is avoided, as it might swim away, carrying your luck with it, and chickens are in danger of pecking away luck, so no fish and chips or Buffalo wings.

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And speaking of luck, there is no shortage of superstitions that will make your upcoming year unstoppably fortunate or healthy. Even if you don’t believe in the power of superstition, we recommend trying a few, just to be on the safe side.

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Laundry or sewing must not be done on New Year’s day, as bad luck is sure to follow. Doctors must not be sought out on the first day of the year, as it is thought to bring bad health. If the first visitor on New Year’s day is male, it heralds good luck, females bring the opposite.

And all that noise outside New Year’s night comes from people setting of firecrackers, which, while fun to do, also was once thought to scare away demons and evil spirits, which are neither healthy nor harbingers of good luck.

All this is great and useful knowledge, but somewhat redundant for Hungarians, because if you are in Budapest, you already know you are lucky.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

 

 

Szörffilm Catches a Wave

Sub-zero temperatures, impending snow storms, and winter holidays: what better time to have a peek into the lives of surfers in Hungary. OK, outside of the wave machines at Palintus and Gellért pools, there is no surfing in landlocked Hungary.  But be sure, there are Hungarian surfers. The 2014 documentary Sörffilm – ‘created by’ Károly Spáh and Milán Bernáth, and surfers Peiman Lotfi, András Ajtai, and Dávid Liptay,  follows three young Hungarian surf enthusiasts as they travel the world looking to ride the ‘barrel’ the term for that sweet spot where a wave folds over itself, creating a tube the surfer shoots through. From England to Indonesia, the optimistic young crew endures injury, parental derision, and money troubles in their quest. It’s a short, pleasing documentary, and  just the right temperature for a frigid winter’s day.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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Newly renovated Klauzál Square Market Hall reopened a few months back to much fanfare, and with good reason. Though it is one of the smaller of the Budapest  market halls, which are spread throughout the city, with one in each of the five central districts, it has a prominent spot in the heart of the Jewish quarter of central Budapest’s red-hot District VII.

The structure itself, which was built around 1900 on the site of a theater that burned down in 1847 (at that time Klauzál Square was known as Stephans Platz), has a whiff of a Parisian market, with a constellation of small shops selling delicacy and artisanal food items, along with the traditional farmers’ markets you can find in the other halls around the city. Designed by city planning authority architects József Kommer és Pál Klunzinger, the structure survived two world wars. These days you would never guess it was situated behind the walls of the Jewish ghetto during WWII, and  that there is a mass grave out front where victims of the Nazis were buried. But that’s Budapest, a city with modern outlook, and a lot of fraught history. Some bright, some dark, which is what makes film production in Budapest so exciting.

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Have a look at the promotional video below, which features some nice aerial shots as well as interiors of the market undergoing its renovation. As a location in Budapest, Klauzál Square Market Hall has yet to be fully utilized.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

It’s amazing what you can do these days with a multicopter drone and a good camera. To boot, have a look at the elegant video Budapest at Night, created by Photo From Above, currently racking up views by people who like their cityscapes shrouded in the cover of darkness. With only the final rays of the disappearing sun and electrical lights of office buildings and historical sites to go by, this clip finds Budapest in a different, more austere mood. You’ll see such illuminated locations in Budapest as Chain Bridge, St. Stephen’s Basilica, The Vígszínház, The Palace of the Arts, Heroes’ Square, the Liberty Bridge, Gellét Hill, and Parliament, among others. There is already a refined stateliness typical to locations in Central Eastern Europe, but this video brings out the regal historical qualities in a way that the bustling daytime misses. Filming in Budapest, or shooting in Hungary? Have a look through the lens of night, from the air. It is just one more dimension that makes Budapest a dynamic and multi-dimensional location.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

gozsdu udvar

via Trip Adviser

Perhaps there is no stretch of Budapest that represents the city’s changing face more than the arcade that runs through the housing complex Goszdu-udvar (Gozsdu court), which is situated between Király street and Dob street in the red-hot inner District VII. But a mere ten years ago, it was an entirely abandoned, gray, and vacant place that you could only see when the gate happened to be left unlocked. These days, the gates are wide open, physically and metaphorically, as thousands of Budapest’s natives and tourists flock to the utterly revitalized Gozsdu-udvar, which is now home to a burgeoning café and restaurant scene. Where there were once abandoned storefronts, you can now find eateries offering cuisine representing cultures as far-flung and Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, and Yiddish. Weekly outdoor markets draw crowds looking for locally made crafts, antiques, and souvenirs. Cafes and shops fill the rest.

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Gozsdu-udvar has had many incarnations in its deep and textured history. Hungarian Romanian philanthropist, Manó Gozsdu, conceived of and build the complex in 1900. It was once a main artery of the Jewish community, then, during the WWII Nazi occupation, a place where Jewish families were rounded up and held to await deportation. During the Socialist era, it was left largely abandoned, only to be renovated and revitalized in 2008. Comprising seven buildings and six individual courtyards, reconstruction efforts included expanding it outwards to give access to new apartment buildings and opening an entrance to Madách Square.

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I wouldn’t want to speculate on just how many people pass through the arcade daily, but it is enough so that every storefront is occupied. Restaurants, cafes, and even a live music venue are thriving, making it a must-see attraction for tourists and local scenesters. Even Jude Law and Mark Zuckerberg have been spotted there in recent years. Old and new, and old within new, and new within old: it’s what locations in Budapest are all about.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

Last summer, in the blistering heat of mid July, the above spot for Hyundai’s Tuscon model of SUV was shot at the little-known location of the Tököli Airport in Tököli, Hungary (a stone’s throw from Budapest). The heat, and the flat terrain were ideal for the complicated undertaking of shaping the sand tunnel, or ‘sand circuit’ (watch the clip!) that the Hyundai skillfully drives through. If you were in Hungary last summer, you know it was an especially hot one, with temps before and during the shoot hovering around 50 Celsius, which is over 100 Fahrenheit.

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You would think that would put a lot of pressure on the stunt driver, but professional Zoltan Gulyas Kiss managed to maneuver through the tight curves in forward, virtually kissing the walls with the side-view mirror – and reverse (that is reverse, not the film played backwards) without a single blunder over his day of shooting, only aided by a custom-made seat belt and handbrake. Mother Nature, however, could not be counted on to be so agreeable. The shoot was delayed by a flash storm that destroyed part of the tunnel. This was, however, quickly reformed and the project was finished without any further complications.

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With this complicated, highly technical production – and one people are responding to, with over 6 million YouTube views – it can be safely said that film production in Hungary is more than just amazing backdrops and scenery.

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PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

Castle in Transylvania

Castle in Brassó via Wikipedia

Lately, Budapest and Hungary have been named to multiple ‘best of’ lists in terms of travel and livability, including a penultimate spot in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice list of favorite cities, which saw Budapest at number two, behind only Florence, Italy. But last week also saw the release of travel company Lonely Planet’s choice of top travel destinations, and would you believe that Transylvania, formerly part of Hungary, and a region that still hosts a huge Hungarian population, was named the best region for travel for the year 2016?

Gate in the Székely Land

Gate in the Székely Land

So much more than Dracula (though there is a lot of Dracula in Transylvania, with three castles promoting themselves as the ‘Dracula Castle,’) the region has some of the few areas worth visiting in Europe that still feel untouched by mass tourism. Many of these are ancient villages tucked into the Carpathian Mountains which are still populated by wolves and bears. With so many cultures, from Székely, to Saxon, to Roma and straight-up Hungarian and Romanian at work, traveling around Transylvania (known as Erdély in Hungarian) is a textured, dynamic experience.

Oradea (Nagyvárad) from above, via Wikipedia

Oradea (Nagyvárad) from above, via Wikipedia

From the Art Nouveau architecture of the town of Nagyvárad (Oradea in Romanian), to the UNESCO-protected Saxon churches, along with the Hunyadi Castle in Vajdahunyad (Hunedoara in Romanian) and the Bran Castle (one of the Dracula castles) in Brassó (Romanian: Brasov), there are no end to interesting locations. The mountain ranges in eastern Transylvania mimic the Appalachians in America (and were used as such in the film adaptation of Cold Mountain) while the villages evoke medieval times. Hungarian traditions and folk culture are alive in the Székely region, which Lonely Planet recommends for its extra spicy gulash soup. What they say when touting Transylvania on their site: “A melange of architecture and chic sidewalk cafes punctuate the towns of Braşov, Sighişoara and Sibiu, while the vibrant student town Cluj-Napoca has the country’s most vigorous nightlife. Many of southern Transylvania’s Saxon villages are dotted with fortified churches that date back half a millennium. An hour north, in Székely Land, ethnic Hungarian communities are the majority. Throughout you’re likely to spot many Roma villagers – look out for black cowboy hats and rich red dresses.”

Wooden church interior, via Wikipedia

Wooden church interior, via Wikipedia

So put away the garlic and come see what makes this formerly Hungarian – and still Hungarian feeling – region so attractive from the point of view of film production and fun.

PPM Film Services is a Budapest-based film company offering an inspiring and creative work atmosphere for its host of clients from around the world. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we’re charged to create, we do it with no compromise. To sign up for the PPM Hungary newsletter, have a look here.

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