Levente is best known for his work on the Emmy Award-winning "The Alienist" (2018). He was born in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, but he has spent many years living and working abroad. Although he graduated in robotics and also holds an MBA, he has always been interested in visual projects, especially in making movies. He started off with commercials and corporate videos and only later he became involved in major film productions. He received awards in architecture and portrait photography and has a wide-ranging portfolio of motion picture work. Excelled in creating successful commercials and worked on television shows budgeted up to 100 million USD.
Photography: Created magazine covers and excelled in portrait and architectural photography.
Filmography: Worked on feature films and major TV shows such as "The Alienist" for TNT, "The Terror" for AMC, "The King" and "The Witcher" for NETFLIX as a VFX on-set wrangler.
Television: Been a camera operator on local Hungarian television shows for TV2, Duna and Spektrum.
Levente works worldwide and regularly in Budapest, Hungary.
After graduating from high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. My grandpa was an engineer, my dad was an engineer, so I thought maybe I should became an engineer too. I went to uni where I studied about robots and nanotechnology, I even went to The Netherlands to learn about the bleeding edge technology, which the Hungarian education system failed to provide. It was a struggle sometimes, but hey, which engineering school isn’t? At least that’s what I thought back then. As my dad described my attitude, my maximum goal was to reach the minimum requirements, therefore I had some free time which I spent looking for opportunities to spice up my life a little. I have worked abroad during the summers, managed my own tiny business after school, achieved relatively good results in sports and still had some time to go out with my friends.
After graduation I landed a job at a dutch company, I started my first real 9 to 5 job as a development engineer. I was working on the highest tech bleeding edge technology microchip manufacturing machines in the world. I was really proud of what I was doing there. I was safe, I had a daily routine and the salary was exceptional as well. After a year or so somehow I become involved with customer site development machines, so I travelled to the US, to Taiwan, to Korea to work there. I loved it, I loved travelling and in retrospect my job in the office wasn’t that fabulous anymore. I decided to move on and look for something which is more challenging, which has more potential for my future development. You know when you start diving in to a topic, like a state of the art laser beam alignment and positioning system, your world becomes quite narrow.
I thought to myself, I always had an entrepreneurial mindset, I was always interested in businesses and managing things, so maybe I should go back to school and do an M.B.A. I have looked up what would be my best option that I can afford and provides world class education. This is how I started my masters in business administration at CEU.
As you might have heard, many of the graduates from an MBA program will try to get into management consulting, but only a very few will actually make it to the top 4-5 companies. I thought that’s it, that is what I want, to be the 0.1%. After graduating with a distinctive degree from CEU I even went to Tokyo for a semester to deepen my knowledge and prepare for the interview process. Working for BCG was my dream but McKinsey would have done it as well. When I got home I though "I am ready"!
Spoiler alert! I didn’t get a job at BCG, nor McKinsey, not even at a second tier consulting firm. I was devastated. I had no idea what to do. I thought I was a failure.
At that point, when I had nothing to loose, I had this crazy idea, what would happen if I would try to make a living out of what I like to do the most, my hobby. You see, I didn’t realise this until recently that every time I travelled somewhere or just went out with my friends I was always filming. Every time I had some surplus money to spend, I bought a camera, or a light, or a lens, or an even better camera. I have never really thought much of this, just wanted to capture the moment so we can rewatch it and have a laugh really.
Now, I am not sure if you knew this, but actually you can make a living with filming stuff. At first I filmed weddings and small corporate videos, but not only were they very seasonal and an unreliable source of income, also without any prior experience or a decent showreel nobody really wants you to do their video projects. I didn’t go to film school or had any connections in the business, but I was very enthusiastic and spent all my free time learning about the craft, I watched every youtube video possible, read books, and asked many questions from people I knew was working in the field. I begged for opportunities to work for free on student films, I took every chance I could to be around people who were in films. This still wasn’t enough to support myself so I messaged every person I knew to see if they had any work for me. At one point I even took an unpaid job where I had to sit in a corridor looking over the crews empty gear bags for hours. That was the time when I decided I have to say no sometimes. But of course this didn't help my career and I was still so desperate that I walked in to one of the biggest film productions companies’ office and demanded to see the owner to hand him my CV personally. It seemed like a great idea, but this didn’t work either…
Until one day my phone rang. It was a friend of mine who was working on a big production in Croatia. His colleague got sick and they wanted someone to replace him and he remembered that I was looking for something. Two days later I was travelling to a remote island in Croatia to shoot for a very well known American cable company. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. Working on a multi million dollar production is a bit different, than shooting a wedding video. I was there, but I left my comfort zone in Budapest. I was in a place I didn’t know, working with 200 people I didn’t know and I was doing a job I didn’t know. But I got up to speed and learned quick, and in a couple of weeks I wasn’t shitting my pants every day.
Now I am happy to say that I have been working in the film business since then, last year we won an Emmy for outstanding special visual effects in a supporting role for one of our works. The funniest part is, that it was the same production company in which I walked in years earlier and demanded to see to owner. It hasn’t been easy and definitely not a lifestyle for everyone. When you work in the film industry, you have to work twice as much as your friends, sometimes you won’t see your family for weeks, because you need to be on a different continent. On the other hand you meet amazing, talented people who will become your second family, but you have to say farewell to them after the shoot finishes and you may never work with them again. It isn’t as safe as working in an office with a steady pay-check coming in every month, but it is definitely more exciting for me.
I often think back to my early twenties and all those endless nights of studying. Was it worth it? My educational background seemingly has nothing to do with who I am today, but the matter of fact is, it has everything to do with who I am and what I am doing today. Without those long hours above my books I wouldn’t know how to be persistent and hard working. I wouldn’t have a holistic view on businesses and wouldn’t understand that every film is a business venture and not only an art project. I wouldn’t have complex analytical skills and I wouldn’t be a good problem solver, when I have to give suggestions on the spot. I wouldn’t be open minded and I wouldn’t know how to put myself in someone else's shoes. When you are working at a multinational company, you are surrounded by like-minded people, with similar skills, while in a film, the backgrounds and professions of people are vastly different. Some of them are fashion designers, some of them are with a finance background, some of them are historians and some of them are doctors. I probably wouldn’t have my own opinion on global matters and couldn’t discuss them with the international crew. And I wouldn’t know how to be flexible, work under extreme pressure and how to prioritise when I have to work 80 hours a week.
Find whatever makes you happy, do it, be better at it, get paid for it. I know it’s a cliché, but getting out of your comfort zone really is where the magic happens, and I am not suggesting that you should all quit your jobs or leave school tomorrow and start doing pottery or painting or knitting, but keep in mind that with hard work and some talent, your passion can become your main source of income. Despite of all the challenges of working on a film, being part of creating art out of thin air makes me fulfilled.