"The focus is always on very personal, human stories"
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Sára László • Producer, Campfilm
The producer for Hungarian company Campfilm talks about her career and the current state of the market on the occasion of her participation in the EFP's Producers on the Move initiative
A graduate from the University of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest, Sára László co-founded Hungary’s Campfilm with director Marcell Gerő and DoP Tamás Dobos in 2007, and is now selected for EFP's Producers on the Move.
Cineuropa: What have been the main stages of your career as a producer?
Sára László: In the first years after founding Campfilm, we produced our films using national financing sources and our distribution strategy was also mainly focused on Hungary. Campfilm’s first two international co-productions were short film Soft Rain by Dénes Nagy, made with Novak Prod in Belgium, and Cain’s Children [+see also:
film profile] by Marcell Gerő, made with Jba Productions in France. These two films also gained us entry to the international festival world: Soft Rain premiered in Cannes, Cain’s Children in San Sebastian and both enjoyed a long festival journey afterwards. Years later, The Euphoria of Being [+see also:
film profile] by Réka Szabó was an important step for us, in terms of international distribution - we had our first international cinema release agreement signed. 2015 marked a new chapter, where we started developing our first two fiction features: Natural Light by Dénes Nagy and Bullhorn Lullaby by Viktor Oszkár Nagy (read news). Following on from its world premiere and the Silver Bear Award it won in the Berlinale competition this year, Natural Light is now setting out on its cinema journey, travelling to movie theatres all over the world, as well as screening on other distribution platforms, so I'm now discovering a new phase in my career.
Can you describe Campfilm’s feature slate?
In May and June 2021, we will see the cinema release of our two recently completed features: Bullhorn Lullaby by Viktor Oszkár Nagy and Natural Light by Dénes Nagy. Campfilm is currently producing a feature documentary by Sári Haragonics (Her Mothers [+see also:
interview: Asia Dér, Sári Haragonics
film profile]) and is also in the early development stage on upcoming features by Viktor Oszkár Nagy and Marcell Gerő.
What type of films are you interested in making? What is your company’s production philosophy?
The films produced by Campfilm are author-driven films, mostly dealing with social issues. The focus is always on very personal, human stories. We often work with first-time filmmakers. Both of us producers at Campfilm - Marcell Gerő and I - come from a film direction background, we’re close to the creation process. This also means that we commit to a relatively small number of projects at a time.
What do you think of the film financing system in Hungary?
The Hungarian film financing system has gone through several changes in recent years. The National Film Institute’s current regulations are clear and are mostly based around practical film production needs. One big advantage is the year-round nature of the funding application process, and a reliable tax incentive model representing 30%. One of the Institute’s major goals is to encourage international co-productions. In 2015, the institute’s predecessor, the Hungarian National Film Fund launched the Inkubator program - a special funding pool to support young directors making their first feature film - which is a very successful initiative. The system is more favourable to feature films; feature-length documentaries with potential for cinema release aren’t given as much attention and aren’t seen as important at the moment, so the recently founded Hungarian Documentary Association (HDA) is now in dialogue with decision-makers in order to initiate changes which will facilitate the production of these films.
Do you have any international plans which involve co-producing with other European countries?
With all three of the films in production or in development mentioned above, we are aiming to make them via international co-productions. Another important goal, right now, is to try out the role of minority co-producer. We are working on two majority Slovak projects with the company PubRes (a series called Convictions directed by Tereza Novotova and a feature entitled Emma And The Death’s Head by Iveta Grófová), and in both cases the third co-producing country is the Czech Republic.
You are one of the EFP’s Producers on the Move. What does this mean to you and how do you think it will it help you?
I feel honoured to represent Hungary in this year's program. Being part of Producers on the Move is an important step in a European producer’s career, because it offers concrete affirmation that we have reached a certain level in our professional lives. I think it will help in many ways, most importantly in finding new professional partners, but also in potential partners finding me and our company.
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