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.
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 success, helping 27 individuals gain significant income via different roles in the advertising and movie industry. However, the management team also experienced significant challenges. Ethnic Talents realised that its business model should be revised and its sources of income must be diversified. While the team was developing the new business plan, the Foundation converted the remainder of its grant into a project-based loan. The project aimed to recruit 100+ characters from vulnerable backgrounds to a movie titled “Ando Drom”, which was supported by the Hungarian National Film Institute. This was the first significant request from the film industry so it was a very important opportunity for the Agency as it could contribute to future orders from the market. Work on developing the new business model is in progress.