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Archive for January, 2012

Because the Korda Studios outside of Budapest is opening their doors to the public on February 8, as an ‘open day’, we thought we would take a moment to detail what this state-of-the-art facility has to offer visiting and local film-makers.

Three years in the making, the full-service studio opened their doors in 2007 to great fanfare. Designed to accommodate productions from the smallest to the largest, Korda has six sound stages on its compound. The flagship Sound Stage 6, is the largest purpose-built sound stage in the world. It comprises a whopping 5,975 square meters, which translates into 64,314 square feet of space. More-over, the stage houses the world’s largest indoor water tank, standing 65 feet high. And for another record: the studio has the largest reconstruction of a New York City street outside of the United States. If you have a look at the embedded video, you will see that not even Spike Lee could complain as to its authentic appearance.

In a recent post, we high-lighted the tremendous effort put into the TV series the Borgias, filmed at Korda Studios. Other major film productions, however, proceeded this and helped build the studio’s reputation at home and abroad. One of the more recognizable films to make use of Korda Studios – and, in fact – Korda’s first major production, was Hell Boy II, written and directed by Academy Award nominee Guillermo del Toro. The set was the largest production ever filmed in Hungary, and over 1,000 workers labored to construct the modern-gothic sets. After filming was completed, many sets were preserved, and are open to visitors at Korda’s adjoining Korda Film Park.

The backers, including Hungarian real estate developer Sándor Demján and Hungarian-born Andrew Vajna (a man whose name is making a regular appearance on this blog) opted to build in the quiet wine-making hamlet of Etyek. The facilities replaced a military base that had been abandoned by the government. Insiders have dubbed the area ‘Etyekwood’, perhaps optimistically, though the huge budget Die Hard 5 will no doubt make use of the studio in its upcoming Budapest-based shoot.

If you can’t make it to Etyek on the 8th, have a look at this somewhat dizzy-making virtual tour, offered by the studio as part of their marketing. Otherwise, see you there!

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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If you have ever spent any time in Hungary, you know that native Hungarians are proud of the numerous inventors who have originated from their country. From the ball-point pen to the atom bomb, Hungarians can take credit for inventions both practical and revolutionary. But not all famous Hungarian inventors were so pragmatic. Take, for instance, Kempelen Farkas (better known by his German name, Wolfgang von Kempelen), a lifelong inventor and creator of the ‘chess robot’ known as ‘The Turk’.

These days, you can play chess against a computer, and, unless you are a grandmaster, it is likely the computer could beat you. The Turk, however, used no software. In fact, there was no such thing as software when The Turk was invented, back in 1770. Yet the life-sized metal ‘chess robot’ defeated challengers drawn from esteemed ranks of world leaders like Napoleon Bonaparte and great thinkers like Benjamin Franklin. The Turk was unveiled by Kempelen in an effort to impress Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresa. She was impressed, and fooled, as were spectators for a full thirty years, until it was revealed that The Turk was a hoax: hidden inside a wooden box beneath the chess board sat various chess masters, operating The Turk’s hands. The Turk will go down as one of the greatest all-time hoaxes, and was made all the more believable due to Kempelen’s reputation as an esteemed man of science.

Other inventions of Kempelen were less frivolous, and indeed, at least one was ground-breaking. His ‘Speaking Machine’ was constructed of such curious parts as a reed from a bagpipe, a bellows (used to blow a fire), and the bell of a clarinet, all constructed to imitate a human voice. Kempelen would spend much of his life attempting to perfect the machine, making several different versions. Ultimately, the machine was not able to fully replicate natural speech, though it was able to utter phrases in English and French. Its one huge limitation was that the speech was delivered in a wheezy monotone. But at the time it was as close as any inventor had come to mechanically imitating the human voice. And no, there was not a tiny man inside the Speaking Machine doing the talking. This one was legitimate.

Like many great Hungarian inventors before and after him, Kempelen died penniless, having fallen out of favor with the Monarchy. His great automaton The Turk also suffered a tragic fate: it was destroyed in a fire. Kempelen’s name lives on, however, and is oft uttered by automaton-obsessed writers and fans of ‘Steampunk’ literature. His legitimate contributions are also remembered in the form of The Wolfgang von Kempelen Science History Prize.

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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Not long ago, cast members of The Borgias TV series praised the restaurant M in the New York Times, calling it a ‘favorite hangout’. But there are lots of other great restaurants in Budapest — ones to fit all sizes of budget and ego. Here, from the most pricey to the least exclusive, are some of our recommended places to dine for those shooting in Budapest:

Star: The place to see and be seen is without a doubt Nobu, the Budapest outpost of the international sushi franchise owned by, amongst others, Robert De Niro and producer Andrew Vajna. Highly praised since its opening, Nobu has defied skeptics and managed to stay crowded. Needless to say, their sushi is a healthy option to much of the meat-based cuisine that is offered around town. Other pricey, high-end options: Costes, Onyx, Baraka.

Director: Csalogány 26. Not quite the flashy event destination that Nobu is, the understated yet elegant Csalogány 26 has been a favorite with local foodies for many years now. Serving Hungarian/International fusion, including unique takes on Hungary’s famous Mangalica pork, Csalogány 26 is consistently rated one of the top restaurants in the county. Other fine dining but down-to-earth options: Bock Bisztró, Pesti Disznó, Fausto’s

Cast: Well, M would be our choice here, but since they have already received their fair share of publicity, we will give a shout out to Klassz. Housed in a lovely storefront space on the beautiful Andrássy Avenue, it has survived the recession and even a few ups and downs in the kitchen. Known for their extensive, exquisitely chosen wine list, and reasonably priced menu (look out for the game dishes and vegetable soups), Klassz is a hot spot with locals and tourists alike, and gets filled to capacity nightly. Other lively mid-priced options: Café Kör, Dernye Bisztró, Olimpia.

Crew: There are plenty of places to eat in Budapest where you can try excellent fare without dropping tens of thousands of forints. One of our favorites is Caladonia Scottish Pub. Strictly speaking, Caladonia is a Scottish pub, but their food is also excellent. If you want the closest thing to a British fish and chips, this is where you will go. They also serve one of the top hamburgers in the city, excellent Scottish beers on tap, and, of course, a wide selection of whisky to wash away the day’s stress. Other filling options that won’t break the bank: Rubin, Hax’n Király, Ring Café.

Writer: Ah, the bottom of the barrel. You will want to drown your sorrows as the director and star mangle your words, and hopefully get some cheap nutrition while you do it. For this we have to recommend the newly re-vamped menu at Csiga Café. Most dishes, from goose leg to pastas, are well under 10 euro, and filling and satisfying as you could want. For self-medication purposes, Csiga doubles as a pub, and stays open late. You will even get to mix with the occasional holdover street-walker or gangster from the notorious Rákóczi Square’s darker days. Other budget-but-tasty options: Kiadó Kocsma, Casztro Bisztró, Fecske Presszó.

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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