Case Study: The making of ‘Chuchotage’ by Barnabás Tóth

Date: 19th Jan. 2018
Case Study: The Making of Chuchotage
Filmmaker: Barnabás Tóth

Q: What is your film about?

Barnabás Tóth: During a professional conference in Prague, two simultaneous interpreters in the Hungarian booth realize that only one person is listening to them. They vie for her attention. It is an original idea by writer-director Barnabás Tóth who has experience with interpreting and international communication.

Q: Tell us about the festival run, marketing and sales?

Barnabás Tóth : Chuchotage won 20 awards in 42 different international film festivals. The major festivals it’s been in competition are Palm Springs, Leuven, Flicker’s Rhode Island (Best Comedy Short), the Manhattan Short Film Festival (Silver Medal) and Moscow (“short films about love” section). 

Any kind of marketing strategy started only after the announcement of the short list. We contacted a world sales agent, New Europe Films, and Jan Naszewski, who is a great young manager who helped us shape the image of the film. We focus on the nomination campaign obviously. Also we are collaborating with London Flair PR, we need their experience and professional contacts. We make gifs, quoted stills and film extracts for the social media campaign. We use the funny, central European and feel-good image of Chuchotage, and also the funny-likeable face of the male characters and the beauty of Andrea Osvárt, the lead actress.

Q: Do fill in the ‘Dramatic Feature’ below?

Director: Barnabás Tóth
Producers: Lajos Tóth, Andrea Kuczkó, Gábor Rajna, Gábor Sipos, Judit Stalter, Barnabás Tóth
Budget: 35.000 dollars
Financing: Csokonai Art Center, Laokoon Filmgroup, Tax Refund, Sponsors
Production: Laokoon Filmgroup
Shooting Format: Cinemascope
Screening Format: cinemascope
World Premiere: march 2018
Awards: see above or see full award list on vimeo or youtube
Website: Chuchotage, Facebook

Q: Give the full Official Synopsis for your film?

Barnabás Tóth : There is no more than this: During a professional conference in Prague, two simultaneous interpreters in the Hungarian booth realize that only one person is listening to them. They vie for her attention.

Q: Development & Financing?

Barnabás Tóth: The screenplay was written by Barnabás Tóth, the director and producer, as an original idea. So there was no copyright question around it. The finances for the film came in 3 steps: first Csokonai Art Center gave Barnabás the main award for a script contest (10.000 dollars) which was given as a production budget. It was a far too small sum so Barnabás contacted sponsors and Applia, who also appears in the movie gave us another 17.000 dollars. Finally Laokoon as own investment and tax refund guaranteed 8.000 dollars. The project did not go to any film market or forum.

Q. Production?

Barnabás Tóth: Barnabás won the script contest in early September 2017. The budget was complete and ready by the end of October. There were 2 days of rehearsals, 3-4 days of location hunting, 1 day casting and about a week of intensive preparing between the DOP, András Másik Szőke and Barnabás. They planned every take and every minute for both cameras.

The shooting took place in early November, 2 days, and 10 days after principal photography, there was the premiere. (Yes, 10 days for editing, colour pacing and sound). The whole production from idea to print copy took 10 weeks. It is an extraordinary schedule. It was the nature of that script contest. From idea to production in a few weeks.

Q: Festival Preparation & Strategy?

Barnabás Tóth: When Barnabás saw a bigger potential for the festival run (based on the enthusiasm of the audience on the first few domestic screenings, including the closed premiere), he contacted Berlin-based festival agency “aug&ohr”. The first 3 festivals they sent Chuchotage to were Moscow (accepted), Palm Springs (accepted) and Shanghai (rejected). Palm Springs came to be a major point: many other American festivals invited the film from there, including the Manhattan Short Film Festival, which, for a week’s time had screenings in 350 theatres worldwide including Siberia, South Africa, India, Australia and most importantly Los Angeles, where it was screened for a whole week. That meant it was qualified for an Academy Award. Barnabás sent the package to the Academy in mid-September and the news about the shortlist came in mid-December.

There was NOT ANY PR or marketing activity on Chuchotage before January 2019.

Q: The Release?

Barnabás Tóth : It was not released yet, officially. BUT. We put it online, public, without a password, for free on vimeo for marketing and PR purposes, during the 2nd round of AMPAS voting. Its one-week, from 7 to 14 january. We have a wild scale of portals promoting this premiere, as well as Facebook and word of mouth. We had 50.000 views on the first day and 40.000 on the second. (that’s what where we are now, that means today)