Performing on the set used by the American cable and satellite television network Showtime was an unexpected treat for an adventurous group of 13 Georgia State University students on a study abroad program to Turkey and Hungary May 15-31.
The trip to Korda Studios, located in Etyek, Hungary, about 20 miles outside of Budapest, was the culmination of a five-day visit to the Hungarian capital. Our appearance in a movie trailer, shot on a film set at the complex, made the tour one of the most memorable parts of our trip to Hungary.
Paige Estrada, a 20-year-old rising senior at GSU, appreciated the blend of fun and facts at Korda Studios: “I thought there was a good balance of fun (making the video) and education (history of movie making),” she recalled. Our group of 13 students performed in an action and adventure scene under the enthusiastic guidance of two Korda Studios film directors.
Ms. Estrada played a pivotal role in the film trailer on the Renaissance Italian set originally used for the Showtime drama, “The Borgias.” Instead of breaking the set down, the studios have used it so visitors could experience making a trailer of their own.
In her role, she had to help ward off an angry mob by throwing a stone at a knight. Although the “star” of the trailer, she remains modest about her acting ability.
“Mine just happened to be a little bit more dramatic,” she said of her role.
Drama isn’t the only draw to this studio complex. Like the U.S. state of Georgia, Hungary offers a 20 percent tax rebate to productions filmed in the country.
Georgia offers an additional 10 percent if producers embed a state logo in the production’s credits.
For Hungary, the credit is helping it to compete with the likes of the Czech Republic and France in the competition for European films. Korda Studios opened in 2007, taking its name from Alexander Korda, a prolific Hungarian film director and producer.
We learned about green screen technology and other optical illusions found in films during a tour of the studio’s museum. Interactive displays engaged students, such as the building lying on its side that made students look like they defied gravity when they walked on it. We also toured the Korda back lots, including a New York City street set used in the film, “Hellboy 2.”
Our trip was part of a joint initiative between the Department of Communication and the Institute of International Business at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. In addition to our entertainment tour in Hungary, we also visited start-up companies, and met with entrepreneurs in Budapest.
A highlight of the trip for many students was a visit to Kitchen Budapest, a start-up incubator. The Hungarian firm, Magyar Telekom, funds the start-up known to the locals as “KIBU,” which offers resources, space and inspiration to fledgling businesses.
In the edgy Budapest offices of KIBU, entrepreneurs huddle over their innovations, such as a fabric that makes noise when it comes in contact with magnets. A plush stool in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube is one of the creative touches that adorn the offices, a nod to the Hungarian inventor of the three dimensional puzzle.
Gabrielle Eusery, a 20-year-old rising junior at GSU, found the Kitchen Budapest visit inspiring. “I really liked that they’re encouraging people to follow their dreams, and to go after what they want, and they’re helping them, and they’re not charging them to go after what they want,” she said. “I think that’s really cool, because a lot of times people will help you, but they want something in return.”
A journalism major, she said the trip encouraged her to pursue her own ambitions to start new business ventures, after hearing from young, successful entrepreneurs on the trip. “I really liked the idea that they’re young, and they’re already successful, and they’re pursuing their dreams to become successful,” she said. “That’s inspiring.”
Students were also impressed when they watched in the Korda Studios screening room the edited trailer they had performed. It was the last day of a 15 day-long trip, which had also taken us to Istanbul, Turkey. Acting in a film in Hungary’s Hollywood gave the group a glamorous finale to a terrific trip.
Jill Martin,an international journalist who writes and reports for the BBC and CNN, is also a graduate teaching assistant at GSU, where she teaches journalism classes. She participated in GSU’s Maymester course, Global Business and Media, in May, 2014. Now in its fourth year, the course is lead by professors Tamer Cavusgil (RCB) and Shawn Powers (Communication).