Creative in association withGear Seven

White Rabbit Budapest Provides Production Design for Short Film Rhododendron

Advertising Agency
Budapest, Hungary
The story of the Hungarian regime change was co-written and directed by the agency's CCO, Levente Kovacs

White Rabbit Budapest has for the first time provided production design for a new short film entitled 'Rhododendron.'

Rhododendron takes places in June 1989, right after the symbolic fence-cutting ceremony of the 'Iron Curtain' at the Austrian-Hungarian border. Feeling the 'new winds of Change,' a high-ranking officer of the communist-era meets his former domestic-intelligence agent, offering him a new identity for his services. However, due to some absurd bureaucratic error, the wrong documents were created. In an evil twist, the agent gets the identity of the person he had tortured and beaten up some 20 years earlier.

"Rhododendron is a fictional story at the dawn of the Hungarian Change of Regime, when the communist world starts collapsing, and everyone was trying to figure out what's going to happen next," says Levente Kovacs. "However, it's an universal story, focusing on that decisive moment, when an individual has to make a choice – and then head for a new start, although the System already ruined his life, making him physically and mentally crippled."

Gyorgy Cserhalmi and Tibor Gaspar in the old Mercedes of 1989

The high-ranking officer of the film is played by György Cserhalmi, one of the most significant contemporary Hungarian actors. (Cserhalmi is a living legend, the 'Nation's Actor,' who acted in hundreds of films and plays – the most famous one is Mephisto, the first Hungarian movie to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1981.) The other two Hungarian actors who made an enormous contribution to this short film are: Tibor Gáspár and László Görög.

Laszlo Gorog getting prepared for an interrogation scene

'Rhododendron' marks the Budapest-based creative agency's first adventure into the world of production design. "Since the fictional story of the film takes place 30 years ago, finding the right props and costumes was a difficult and meticulous task. But the huge experience of White Rabbit's art department helped us to evoke the feel and look of the late 80s genuinely," says the co-writer and director, Levente Torcsi. To achieve utmost authenticity, they even found the original black Mercedes Benz of Karoly Grosz, the General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party, to use its interior for some of the shots. 

The original car of the General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party

White Rabbit Budapest also worked on creating the campaign for the short film, that will be premiered in early September.

Rhododendron was co-produced by TV-Com, Focus Fox and Lighthouse Film. The executive producer was Gyula Nemeth; producers were Gabor Ferenczy and Mano Csillag; DOP Balazs Doboczi. The writers and directors were Levente Kovacs and Levente Torcsi.

Check out some more behind-the-scenes photos below. 

Details of the make-up work.

Shooting an interrogation scene. 

A close-up shot of the main character – through the control monitor.

The lead actors (Gyorgy Cserhalmi and Tibor Gaspar) doing some rehearsals in the dressing room (while the make-up artist is working in the background on Laszlo Gorog.)

A bit of communist era authenticity. The facade of the pub, where one of the scene takes place. 

The trailer is on its way.

A very special gift that main actor, Gyorgy Cserhalmi gave the writers on the first day of the shooting: a plastic container that holds a piece of the original Iron Curtain tied with the ribbon of Hungarian tricolor.