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Archive for September, 2013

THE BORGIAS

It’s true that Americans tend to dominate the circle of Emmy Award winners, as the show is intended to honor the best in American television. But occasionally a show such as The Borgias comes along, which is shot outside of America and uses a largely foreign crew. The producers made the right choice in bringing the Canadian-Irish-Hungarian produced Borgia mini-series shoot to Hungary, because not only did they come away with a critically acclaimed show, local costume designer – Gábor Homonnay – won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for his role in providing the elaborate costumes worn by 16th century Italian noblemen and women, not to mention Pope Alexander VI. Homonnay has also worked on the upcoming film 47 Ronin, and 2009-released film The Nutcracker 3D, both shot in Hungary.

The Borgias was shot mostly at the Korda Studios in the town of Etyek, just outside of Budapest. Homonnay had up to 70 people working on the costumes, and praised his entire team in his acceptance speech. It is worth pointing out that Hungary’s special effects technician Gábor Kiszelly, hairdresser Judit Halász and art director Judit Varga were also among nominees for an award. That makes for a lot of local talent.

Emmys aside, The Borgia’s brought some serious and much-justified buzz to Hungary, with an article on one of the world’s most visited news/entertainment sites, Buzzfeed. In the article, Irish executive producer James Flynn explains: “Hungary had the ‘hot look’ the show needed for the mostly Italy-based story” and goes on to explain that  “with a few exceptions, the whole crew speaks English.” The show, starring Jeremy Irons, ran a total of four seasons on US cable network Showtime.

Congratulations to Hommany and all the other Hungarian Emmy nominees. Take that, Game of Thrones.

emmy-awardPPM 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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photo by Petr Novák

photo by Petr Novák

There are so many famous Hungarian cinematographers that Wikipedia has a page dedicated to them alone. But the most renown must be Vilmos Zsigmond. He is responsible for filming such classics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, and Deliverance. Over the course of his career he was nominated for an Oscar four times and won once for Close Encounters.

Zsigmond’s life it worthy of a film itself. Born in 1930 in the Hungarian city of Szeged, he studied cinema at the rigorous Academy of Drama and Film in Budaspet. As a young technician, he risked his life to fim some of the most valuable footage of the 1956 Revolution in Budapest. With that footage, and with colleague Laszlo Kovacs, he escaped Hungary across the Austrian border. Footage from the revolution and the story of their escape can be found in the PBS biopic Vilmos and Laszlo: No Subtitles Necessary (see clip below).

It was in the 1960s that Zsigmond arrived in Los Angeles. He began working as a technician on low-budget, independent films, in hopes of breaking into the industry in Hollywood. His big break came when Robert Altman hired him as cinematographer for McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Word of his professionalism and technique quickly spread and soon he was working with the biggest directors in Hollywood, including Stephen Spielberg, John Boorman, Brian DePalma, Richard Donner, and Woody Allen.

Zsigmond also lensed some notorious flops. After shooting The Deer Hunter, he shot Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, and after having success with Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, he shot Bonfire of the Vanities. Both follow-up films were widely panned and considered templates for movie flops to come.

In 2003 Zsigmond was included in the Camera Guild’s list of the 10 most influential cinematographers of all time list. Over the age of 80, Zsigmond is still working today. His latest credits include Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, and Dan Pritzker’s Bolden! which is currently in production.

Below find an interview with Vilmos Zsigmond from the Slamdance Film Festival followed by a clip from No Subtitles Necessary.

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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Her name is Olga Fisch, but if you called her the Hungarian Frieda Kahlo, we won’t object. Born in Budapest in 1901, back when the country was still part of the Hapsburg Empire, Olga Fisch showed a strong interest in painting from her earliest years. Throughout her school years in the small Hungarian city Győr, Fisch collected Hungarian folk crafts, and at a young age precociously declared to her family her dream of being an artist.

fisch

After World War II, Fisch got out into the world. She worked as a ceramics designer in Vienna, then moved to Germany where she studied painting and met her first husband, sculptor Jupp Rubsam. But life would not be calm for Fisch. After a divorce, she remarried, then felt forced to move from the growing anti-Semitism of pre-WWII Germany.  She and her second husband arrived in South America after stops in Morocco, Italy, Eritrea, and the United States. Thus it wasn’t until 1939 that Olga Fisch discovered Ecuador, the land where she would become famous.

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It was in the capital city Quito where Fisch married her love of folk art with her own artistic inclinations. One of her first creations, a rug she designed, and had woven by indigent Ecuadorian artisans, was bought by the director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The money from that sale funded a storefront dedicated to her Ecuadorian folk craft-inspired designs, which she called Folklore. Her rugs soon found a prestigious international market, and one still hangs in the hall of the UN building in New York. Her store, Folklore, was also growing, and added its own workshop. Fisch, a born leftist, made sure her craftsmen and women made a good living from their work. Ultimately Fisch’s contribution to culture was manifold. She was an artist, a curator of local folk art, a champion of Ecuadorian folk art abroad, and a humanitarian.

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It was not until 1987 that Fisch returned to Hungary, to visit the few remaining family members to survive the Nazi scourge. Fisch didn’t stay long in her homeland, but returned to Quito, and remained there until she died in her 90s, leaving behind a legacy of work that is still vibrant and colorful as the art she created.

Olgaphoto1

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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Last weekend was marked a bittersweet but vital milestone in local history and international sporting lore. Overdose, or, ‘the Bullet of Budapest’ one of the most successful racehorse of all time, ran his last race ever at Budapest’s beautiful Kincsem Park. The weather was perfect and the house was packed to give this legendary racehorse a proper sendoff. At the height of his career, the Hungarian thoroughbred was unbeaten over the course of 14 races, and at this time last year, he had a record of 19 wins, not finishing first in but three races.

Photo by Mirus Luna via Wikipedia

Photo by Mirus Luna via Wikipedia

Overdose’s early years were auspicious. The press had called the young horse  ‘ugly,’ and a ‘misfit.’ At auction, even seasoned trainers didn’t think much of him. Only Zoltán Mikóczy, steel baron and horse enthusiast, saw something in the stallion, but still concedes he bought him on a whim. “I just put my hand up for fun, I like excitement of the horse auctions. I thought no horse can go this cheap and surely somebody else would bid. He’s short and I’d say kind of ugly, so of course nobody wanted him,” he famously said of his purchase. Since then Overdose has raced all over Europe and the Middle East, and ends his career as being, along with the equally famous Hungarian race horse Kincsem, an international legend in the sport (Kincsem, however, went unbeaten for 54 races, a record that will surely remain unbroken in our lifetimes).

photo by Judit Seipert via Wikipedia

photo by Judit Seipert via Wikipedia

Speaking of Kincsem, here is a quick look at the park named for the famous racehorse, where Overdose ran his last race and also holds a track record.

Kincsem Park race track evokes feelings of both nostalgia and modernity. Named for Kincsem (My Treasure) the famed thoroughbred of yore, Kincsem Park is Budapest’s primary horse-racing venue, and also hosts our traditional New Year’s harness races. The park, which also serves as a venue to open-air concerts (including Madonna, on her last trip through Budapest). Kincsem Track (official site here) has both newly built and old grandstands on the premises, making it versatile and picturesque.

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Hats off to Overdose, who brought thrills to horse-racing fans worldwide, and revitalized interest in the sport here in Hungary.

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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Welcome back to our short summer tour around the northern coast of Hungary’s Lake Balaton. Part two of this weekend trip will see stops in Tihany, Szent György-hegy (Saint George Hill), and the town Szigliget.

As was widley documented by the press (including this blog) Balaton’s Tihany peninsula is a place so filled with beauty and a serene natural quiet that two of the world’s biggest stars called it home for a summer. Though Brad and Angelina have moved on, Tihany remains one of the country’s most exciting locations.

Tihanyi_apátság-104-1

The entire peninsula of Tihany is a dedicated historical area, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see from the photo that the Benedictine Abbey that dominates the landscape is highly photogenic. The foundation dates back to 1055 AD (though the Baroque church was rebuilt in 1754). Visitors to Tihany are in for a few extra surprises as well. First, there is a small lake within the peninsula itself (and a small wonder, it is gorgeous). The second is the legend of the princess who was punished by the mythical king of the lake, and sentenced to return the call of all those who summon her (in the form of an echo, that can be heard by shouting in the direction of the Balaton).

Moving on, let’s stop at Szent György-hegy, a somewhat Close Encounters of the Third Kind looking hill (or mountain, depending on your expectations). The hill is characterized by columns of basalt, and veins of lava stone, while the soil is rich with volcanic ash, as this was the site of an active volcano some 3 – 4 million years ago. The surrounding region is known for the fine szürkebarát (pinot gris) that results from the mineral tasting grapes.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

The final destination will be Szigliget, a picturesque little town that is the pride of Balaton’s northern shore. One of the most prominent structures of the town is the fortress ruin that sits atop a hill overlooking the water. This medieval ruin has recently seen some repair and is open to tourist traffic. In and around the northern shore you can see examples of thatch roofed houses that characterize rural Hungarian home design.

via Wikipedia Commons

via Wikipedia Commons

nádtető_

Here we come to the end of our tour of the Lake Balaton’s beautiful northern coast. As you can see, there are dream locations a’plenty, and with Hungary’s low costs and excellent crews, they would make any film-making visit worthwhile.

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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