Tina Toth is an amazing videographer and artist living and working in Manchester, but originally from Hungary. She has worked both as the illustrator for our story books, The Glitter Pup & Little Unicorn, and as our videographer. You can see more of her work for Label HERE. Tina has many other projects on the go, and is currently developing an amazing film called Magnum Opus (please donate HERE if you are able.) Jo sat down with Tina to find out more about her amazing work, and what inspires her.
How did you first get into videography?
In primary school in Hungary, we had extracurricular classes in almost all subjects, including art and film as well. I started going to both but then focused on the film class eventually. We were only 11-12 years old then and the school had only one VHS camera. My classmates and I shot interviews with other student, asking silly question about the canteen’s menu or their favourite teacher. I remember we had to edit the footage either in camera or on a VHS recorder. It was only a few years later when editing softwares became available for students; it sounds ridiculous now but the coolest thing was the Windows Movie Maker for us back then.
In secondary school, I attended a similar course; however, that was more about media and journalism rather than strictly film making. We were taught film theory and analysis there; this meant a solid foundation for whatever I was going to be going for in the future. Our class kept on filmmaking until our GCSEs: interviews, short films, commercials, music promos. We were quite successful in our age group; I even got to go to the national competition from media and film, the first ever student from our school.
After the GCSEs, everyone went different ways and it was really complicated to call a crew. I didn’t make any videos or films for a year or two, I was much more interested in improving my English skills and coming to the UK to work. I attended a few film courses while I was studying for my language exam but all of those started from the basics. I was tired of hearing about the Lumière brothers for the 100th time. Another practical lesson covered the art of setting up a tripod for an hour and a half. I didn’t go back for any other lessons after that, it was just a waste of time.
After arriving in the UK, I began looking for like-minded people with an interest in filmmaking. Then I applied to The Manchester Film School and that’s where I am now.
Are there people you particularly admire, or look up to in the area?
My dream is to become a film director so the people I admire are mainly directors and artists. I like polyhistors, people who are talented in more than one art form/ field to a really high standard. Drawing and painting mean a lot to me, that’s why I respect those directors who have a visual approach (like Tim Burton or Ridley Scott). I basically look up to any director who has any other creative skill and it shows in their filmography. Let’s take Woodkid, he’s one of my favourites, a French musician with really powerful movie soundtrack-like songs who directs beautiful artistic and epic commercials and music videos. I’d like to achieve the same in my art: when people see a still from my film or a painting from me, I want them to be able to recognise the style immediately and say that, yes, that’s definitely from me.
What do you hope to communicate through the medium?
I believe I’ve got the same intentions as most of the other filmmakers: to entertain the audience. I don’t like cheap entertainment though (senseless blockbusters, Michael Bay’s explosions, comic book film avalanche), I’d rather stand for originality. My favourite director is Christopher Nolan and his films make the audience actually think about the subject, that is one of my aims as well. Ultimately, the biggest advantage of the medium is that it is able to influence emotion. My Top 10 films are mostly the ones which break your heart but then somehow are able to lift you up again in the end. Achieving the same effect, making the audience breath, cry and laugh together with the characters, is the biggest reward for me.
What is it about film that you find so compelling?
Simply the fact that it involves so many other art forms: photography, music, literature, painting etc. All of these aim to tell a story, to invoke a feeling but in my opinion, film does it the best. I’m still very much into painting but now, I want to concentrate on filmmaking. I occasionally paint a portrait or landscape when someone asks me to and when a new project comes along, I always draw storyboards.
Are you creative in other ways as well?
I’ve already spoken about drawing and painting, another thing I could add is writing. I only write scripts nowadays, I just don’t have time to plan any bigger projects. I used to write my books like every other person but prefer not showing unfinished work to anyone, so they just collect some dust now in my drawers (hard drive). Oh, and music! I wish so much that I could play on any instruments but unfortunately I can’t. It’s really a shame. I’m definitely going to learn this skill, I just don’t have time for it beside all these art and video projects (and uni and work).
What are your plans for the future?
First is finishing my uni course and making the most of it. We’ve got professional equipment available here and I’d like to use them for as long as I’m allowed. Even though these are student films only, I see them as another addition to my art, something that helps me in building my style.
I want to carry on filming and I think the North-West is a really good area for that. I’ve started taking on filming events and corporate videos, but my main thing is always going to be fiction. As long as I can find a crew to help me film my scripts, I’m happy.
What are the main challenges with any film; and what are the most rewarding elements?
For me it’s all the arrangements and paperwork that comes with filmmaking, it kills me every time a little. And when the production seems to stand in one place and nothing is happening. I can get really stressed then and worried that we’re running out of time.
There are loads of rewarding moments. I especially like when something just accidentally makes the shot better and then everyone is jumping around and can’t believe how lucky we were. A while ago, we were shooting a test for uni and there was a postman in the scene. On the day, someone just stopped an ordinary postman at their door and asked them if we could have his coat and bag for a film. I’ve got no idea how the guy got away with leaving all his stuff for a whole day with us but he did. It’s just little things like that. I also love when actors just absolutely rock the scene.
What would you most like people to know about your work?
I’m going to be cheeky now and take the chance to tell people about my new short film. It’s called Magnum Opus, a student film but we put much more effort in the production than any other students out there. We’re building a set (an 18th century alchemy lab) and we have two brilliant actors, Stephen Thomas and Iain Rodrick. They play master and apprentice who have an argument about the philosopher’s stone, immortality, greed etc. You can read more about the project on Facebook: www.facebook.com/magnumopusfilm
Please donate to this amazing project if you are able: www.indiegogo.com/projects/magnum-opus-history-fantasy#