“I am involved in dozens of projects” – Exclusive interview with Bence Fliegauf
The news arrived a few days ago, that Bence Fliegauf’s film Forest- I see you everywhere (Rengeteg -Mindenhol látlak) won the Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance with Lilla Kizlinger. The director has been active since 2001 and he is not only working as a director but also as a screenwriter and a composer. He believes in the independent filmmaking and creative freedom. Experiencing success was also one of our topics.
Budapest Reporter: I read on Wikipedia that you were not admitted to University of Theatre and Film Arts, although you had a maximum entry score. How could this be?
Bence Fliegauf: I already made some shorts, won a couple of awards, so as far as I know they thought I am too experienced to join the class. There was a lot of discussion about the group dynamic in which I did not fit in. Right after the refused admission, I made my first feature called “Forest”. It was a completely independent film, it ended up at Berlinale, nearly two decades ago. We won an award for the best first feature. It is spooky to see how things go in a cycle…
Bpr: How did your directing career start?
B. F.: After the critical success of “Forest”, lot of doors opened, doors which were so hidden, I did not even know they existed. I am speaking not only finding financial options, but also an inner empire, in which I found myself. I employed myself as a slave and doing hard work in the creative mine ever since. It’s tough, but the money is good: authentic self-image.
Bpr: Your current film, “Forest – I see you everywhere” in the second part of the “Forest”? How did this concept come about?
B. F.: I was working 6 years on a project about Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It was a very frustrating period of time, I tried to convince people it would be worth making a feature film about Chernobyl (at that time there was no serious feature about it). In the end, the project turned to three countries for coproduction including Hungary, Germany and Ukraine. Right before the shooting, the American HBO came and took it all. The rest is history. So I had no other option, I had to make a film immediately. I could not sit laid back and write for another two or three years. So to kill this restlessness, I tried to go back to the roots. And the roots were in “Forest”.
Bpr: Can you tell us about the preparation, filming and implementation of the film?
B. F.: To make a micro-budget film, like “Forest” you need a very good network. I lived in Budapest nearly all my life, so this part went relatively easy. I started texting people about the project. It always amazed me how easily people can be engaged in something when they experience creative obsession.
Bpr: Why are you also the screenwriter, producer and composer of the film? Isn’t it too difficult to pay attention that many details?
B. F.: The nature of the difficulties depends on the scale of the project. This is a micro-budget film, in this case less people, less problems. Being a control freak also helps. Besides, there was nobody in this film who does only one duty. The location manager made the sandwiches, the actors carried the tripods. I love this method, people are deeply involved, they don’t feel they work for production, they feel they are the production itself. So the whole thing turns to a synergic creative process. It’s organic, it’s real and very very exhausting.
Bpr: How did you manage to stand up in every position? I think more time and energy …
B. F.: “Forest – I see you everywhere” was a rough ride. There were financial issues, broken friendships, re-shooting, heartbreaks, a wedding, my daughter broke her leg – it was difficult on every level. The pandemic was just a little twist on the whole thing. What you hear now is the exact definition of making an independent film.
Bpr: What is the process of being nominated at Berlinale, how did you get nominated?
B. F.: You send your film to the festival, and they pick you. Or not. In our case, they picked us from a couple of thousands of films, the rest is a piece of cake.
Bpr: How do you feel after “Forest – I see you everywhere” won? Will new doors open?
B. F.: I hope so! And it already happened. The film sold for several platforms; it will be shown on one of the biggest cable channel in Hungary. There are dozens of projects, I am already involved in. I contain multitudes, which make me feel dizzy. Dizzy is a good sign; it means you are alive.