Enthralled with films as a young boy in Hungary, where he made his own Super 8 movies, Tamas Harangi came to America at the age of 19 to study filmmaking. Since then he’s held pretty much every position you can find on a movie set. His first feature film, “The Advocate,” which he both wrote and directed, was a film festival favorite and was recently released on DVD. Tamas sat down with me to talk about his new film and what we can expect next.
Mike Smith: Can you give us a little info on “The Advocate?”
Tamas Harangi: “The Advocate” is a thriller about a defense attorney who has never lost a case in his life. He takes on a case defending a woman accused of murdering her husband and begins to get a bad feeling. He begins to investigate as to whether his client is guilty or not and gets wrapped up in the mystery of it all. He encounters a lot of twists and turns up to the very end.
MS: You also wrote the script. Was it inspired by a real-life event or just something that came to you?
TH: I’ve always liked films that dealt with crime and the legal system. I had an idea for a story and began discussing it with my producing partner, who’s actually an attorney. I picked his brain about the legal system. I started writing the script and would go over certain aspects of the story with him.
MS: You grew up in Hungary. Is that where you first developed an interest in making movies?
TH: Yes. I actually made several short films while I was in high school. I won a couple of awards at various festivals and several of my films were shown on Hungarian National Television. I came out to California to try and break into Hollywood and that’s where I’m living.
MS: Were you exposed to a lot of Western filmmaking as a youngster?
TH: We did get a fair amount of American films, only we wouldn’t get them until a few years had passed. But I grew up on “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” like everyone else (laughs). Only we got them a couple or three years after they’d been released. We’d see advertising for these movies in magazines and have to wait years to see them. I watched a lot of those as well as a lot of French movies…great French comedies. Those were my main influences.
MS: Did you have a favorite filmmaker that you wanted to emulate?
TH: Sure. At the time I was, of course, inspired by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and what they were doing at the time. As I began studying film and learning about the craft of it I was greatly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock. He is what inspired “The Advocate.” A “Hitchcockian” tone is what I was going for. But really, all of the greats…Billy Wilder, Woody Allen…I grew up on their movies and they’re influential as well.
MS: What are you working on next?
TH: I’ve been busy finishing up “The Advocate” and getting it into festivals. I’ve been busy writing as well. I have a new thriller that I’m almost finished with…the first draft is almost complete. I also have a couple other ideas that I’m working on and developing.