Normal view
COVID-19 RESPONSE

Ethnic Talents Casting agency with a social mission

Without doubt the film industry in Hungary is booming and the reasons are multifold. The 30% tax incentive along with the well-equipped film studios, highly trained professionals, attractive historical and natural scenery makes the Hungarian capital one of the most sought after destinations for international movie crews. Film production spending has skyrocketed, exceeding 164 billion HUF (450 million Euros) in 2019.

These productions have an ever-growing demand for unique and diverse faces, which could represent a great employment opportunity for people coming from a minority background. It appears that mainstream casting agencies are currently unable to satisfy this demand. Ethnic Talents, the winner of Badur’s 2018 Springboard Social Enterprise Competition, would like to fill this market gap. In close collaboration with grassroots organisations, Ethnic Talents will recruit amateurs - mainly but not exclusively from marginalised communities overrepresented by Roma - to work as extras or actors in international and domestic movies.

The social impact of the project is threefold. First, working in the movie industry provides a great opportunity to earn additional (and given the industry’s standards, substantial) income for hundreds of people annually. Second, being introduced to the movie industry could create new prospects for many by linking them with other career opportunities in the world of film. Carpenters, technicians, labourers, make-up artists, production assistants are all highly sought after given the general staff shortage in the industry. Third, the project’s impact on the representation of Roma people could be tremendous. Currently, Roma are either underrepresented or only given stereotypical roles in Hungarian productions may those be feature movies or commercial advertisements. If more Roma featured in movies and advertisements in non-stereotypical roles, the image of Roma could be more balanced and positive.

In order to support the establishment of Ethnic Talents, the Foundation awarded a grant to cover the start-up costs and the initial operational loss. In addition, the team received long-term professional mentoring in relation to strategic, financial and operational management.

The first year of the enterprise brought significant successes, they helped 27 individuals gain significant income via different roles in the advertising and movie industry. On the other hand, the management also experienced significant challenges. After the initial challenges, Ethnic Talents realized that its business model should be revised and the sources of the incomes must be diversified. While the team is developing the new business plan, the Foundation has converted the remainder of its grant into a project-based loan. The project aims to recruit 100+ characters with vulnerable background to a movie titled “Ando Drom”, which is supported by the Hungarian National Film Institute as well. This is the first significant request from the film industry so it’s a very important opportunity for the Agency as it can contribute to future orders from the market.