What inspired you to begin work on this film?
I was born in Slovakia and most of my family still lives there. The origins of the character – a Hungarian man from Slovakia – are the same as mine. During the writing process of the story I was living in Riga, Latvia, and I was inspired by what I saw around me. So it was clear that I wanted to make a story about somebody who leaves home and arrives in Latvia. Another thing that influenced the structure was my personal journey as I left home in East Slovakia and lived in various places in Eastern Europe. The story expresses my observations and take on this part of Europe. At the beginning, I asked myself whether it should be a hero of my age or perhaps somebody older. Later on for personal reasons and the purposes of dramatic structure, it became obvious that the protagonist should be of my parent's generation. Because I think that the problems of post-socialist society are not only our parents' problems. These issues have radically influenced our generation too and we jhave to talk about it. Even we can see how things have gone downhill.
My parents' generation is in an especially difficult situation: they were in adult age when communism fell and a new system was established. And this new system meant new rules of survival, which not everybody was able to take on board. The social aspects of the story were not my main focus: it's more about the people Agoston meets and the places he goes to, which are based on my own views on society nowadays, especially in post-socialist Central and Eastern European countries.
Tell us about your working method and the atmosphere on set. Do you have any anecdotes to share?
The DOP Gergely Pohárnoe and I didn't make a storyboard or shotlist together before shooting. Before the start of every day we walked around the location, decided on some basics and after that I started to build the scene with the actors. Gergely also watched the process and formed ideas along the way. After that we discussed and planned the shots combining my ideas with the time we had available that day. This approach was possible only because Gergely uses little artificial light, if any at all. He is flexible, which gives us all a chance to improvise.
And the main actor, Sándor Terhes, had a very similar approach to working on set. He's very precise, fast and flexible too. These two people were my rock: people I could rely on in every situation, location and shot. That was important for me as a director as we were shooting in 4 countries, with a different crew and actors in every location speaking different languages. But my director of photography, the main actor and I all speak the same language – so we always understood each other and formed a strong creative bond which helped us rely on each other no matter what difficulties arose.
What did you learn during the course of making this film?
This was my first feature, and it also had to be my graduation film from FAMU in Prague. I had already started to work on it before my MA in film directing studies on FAMU. At the time I knew nothing about professional filmmaking and even less about how the European system works. I learned along the way and grew with this film.
What are your views on the state of the film industry in your country?
Slovakia is relatively small and young country, so it's not easy. The film foundation of Slovakia was only established in 2010. There is room for improvement, but the good thing is that positive change is noticeable, although it's very slow. Recently more and more young producers are becoming aware the European way of filmmaking. Documentary directors in Slovakia are beginning to switch to feature film production. Year by year there are more and more films appearing at major festivals. Things are making progress.