Every year, the Budapest Film Academy selects a few student screenwriters and directors to produce a short film funded by the Hungarian government. During my time studying abroad with the LMU screenwriting program, my friend Kenny Tran wrote a short film which he adapted from the Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Oval Portrait. Myself and several of my classmates pitched our directorial concepts to the dean and I was fortunate to be chosen to direct the short film.
After several re-writes, we started location scouting with the Budapest producers and we landed on this gorgeous, yet creepy, mansion out in the countryside. Since the antagonist is a deranged painter, the many paintings that adorned the walls could be sourced for the production design. The barren winter landscape outside provided an ominous backdrop for the exterior scenes. The best location we shot though had to be the Budapest Chain Bridge. It’s so iconic Budapest and the fact that there’s a drone shot of the protagonist’s car driving across the bridge at night is so incredibly special for me.
I was fortunate to have worked with Máté Haumann, a Hungarian actor that has been in many large films such as Monte Carlo, . Seeing his professionalism and talent on the monitor blew me away and made me realize what great acting is. The second actor, Péter Végh, playing the painter, is named Peter Hel. He is a fantastic actor and delivered a fantastic performance in English despite only speaking Hungarian. Most of the crew, including the DP, spoke Hungarian, so directing in English with a translator was another unique challenge.