Zita Kisgergely, founder of Flatpack Films, explains how the best productions services firms take a personalised approach to every job
Budapest, Hungary’s ancient and beautiful capital, has flown under the location radar for decades. While every city has its own personality, Budapest has become a centre of music, film, theatre, and visual arts, with locations that can compete with any European city.
The Hungarian capital has such a diverse spread of locations that feature films ranging from last year’s Ridley Scott blockbuster, The Martian, to the rather less surprising, Grand Budapest Hotel, have chosen the city as their backdrop. What’s more, Budapest and the surrounding regions are some of the few locations in the world that can truly call upon the attribute of mimicry. In recent years, the city has masqueraded as Moscow in, A Good Day to Die Hard; as Buenos Aries in, Evita; and as Paris in last year’s Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham comedy, Spy.
For those who are looking to Budapest and the rest of Hungary as a possible location for shoots, Flatpack Films are the industry experts to call upon. The production services company has established itself as one of foremost working in the country today, and Zita Kisgergely, founder of Flatpack Films, knows the country itself is one of their biggest assets. “Budapest and the rest of Hungary is incredibly versatile.” She explains, “Even for those who have been to the country before, we are still able to surprise clients.”
Unlike many production services companies in the region, Flatpack have made a name for themselves as a boutique business delivering personalised and expert opinion on any job. Zita continues, “We don’t use bidding producers who offer a general picture of the costs. Instead, we immediately go into the details and point out areas that need special attention, and we always make sure to offer the most cost effective ways to get things done. Our personalised model is what so many productions want in today’s economic climate.”
Flatpack’s model was put to use most effectively in their recent work with luxury brand Montblanc. Produced by Czar Film Germany and starring Hollywood titan, Hugh Jackman, the spot explains the brand story of Montblanc and how the creation of a humble fountain pen led to a luxury empire. The brief initially challenged Flatpack to find a studio location where the 110-year history of the company could be presented by Jackman in his typically stylish manner.
With their unmatched knowledge of the studios on offer throughout Hungary, Flatpack were able to secure the perfect location for the shoot. “With a job like Montblanc,” explains Zita, “we knew we had to find an old fashioned but sound proofed stage that had real character. Peter Grant, the expert Production Designer, helped us decide upon Mafilm Huszarik Studio just outside Budapest. The result was perfect. It oozed the fabulous character of the old days of Hungarian filmmaking and was precisely what Czar Film Germany and Montblanc were looking for.”
With the studio located, Zita and the rest of her team helped Peter Grant design a truly stunning set, which would take the viewer down the century-long journey. Enlisting experts like Grant is part of the Flatpack service, but his attention to detail and artistry impressed the team. Zita continues, “It was magical to see Peter creating and caring about every tiny detail that was eventually seen in the ad. There was nothing where he was ready to make any compromise on. We went with him to flea markets, antique shops, and helped him go through every single prop to discover what would meet his expectations. Having Peter on hand was like having a master craftsman to call upon at any moment, and I’m proud that we were able to help our clients use his talents.”
Having also procuring the services of Kreative Cinema, Zita went on to secure renowned Hungarian art director, Judit Varga, who added yet more knowledge and skill to the job. Varga’s talents in art direction and set decoration come from years of experience, including a double-Emmy nomination for her work on the Showtime series, The Borgias.
With so many expert professionals on hand, Flatpack were well prepared to tackle the unique challenges that come with working with busy Hollywood stars like Hugh Jackman. Juan Amin, the freelance producer Zita secured for the job, explains, “Hugh Jackman’s schedule was quite challenging – we only had 10 hours with him door to door, and besides the commercial, we had to incorporate two different photoshoots into this time period. When setting up the schedule, we had to take into consideration his quite particular training and dietary plans. However, both the Hungarian crew that Flatpack assembled and the foreign crews were professional beyond expectation. They were real experts, delivering what a star of Jackman’s calibre would want - so we even finished early with time to spare for a crew photo.”
Flatpack’s dedication to unearthing the best professional experts working in the local and regional industry, be they set designers like Peter Grant, art directors like Judit Varga, or the local crews working with Jackman and the rest of the production team, is at the heart of everything Zita and her team strive to deliver on every job.
So far, Zita has made a point of forming and solidifying relationships with companies throughout Hungary and the rest of Europe, but soon she hopes to go from Budapest to Britain and beyond as Flatpack looks to go global in 2017.