On The Spot - international Hungarian success
The documentary series appeared on the screen of the Hungarian TV channel Spektrum in 2011, now it is seen on the Hungarian TV1. The first three seasons were followed by thematic episodes. The series, called Tribes, introduces the tradition and habits of people living in hidden parts of the world. The Fighters presents people who were fighting through their whole life for an idea or an issue. The filmmakers in these episodes were looking for the answer of what encourages the fighters in this struggle. Currently, the 6th season is on the screen, called the Children of Dictators, which introduces politicians, leaders, dictators of the 20th century through the eyes of their children, descendants. The films are made by two young reporters, Eszter Cseke and András S. Takács, who became very successful with their own idea. With On The Spot they won already many awards, received until today three international and seven Hungarian recognitions. This February they just won the latest award. According to Super Channel which is dealing with value management of the creative sector, the documentary is considered as the best creative work of 2013. The viewers decided about the recognition, which also shows how much the audience likes the series.
Sensible topics, dangerous places
The digital reporters provide us an inside into strange, fantastic worlds, with their cameras they have already travelled halfway around the globe. They personalize the new generation of young reporters, meanwhile they prepare their documentaries on international level.
Eszter and András made over 40 films so far and shoot among others in Israel, Bolivia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma, the Maldives, Iran and Japan. Once they introduce the culture and costumes of tribes living in hidden places of the world, another time they report from distressed areas and from the middle of armed conflicts. From their films it turns out that they are not afraid of hot, sensible topics, they talk in their reports about politics, war, religion, natural disasters, pain, discrimination, freedom and suppression. They shoot films with gangsters and revolutionary leaders, even from the front line, and the audience could saw birth, circumcision and forced feeding in the films as well.
The reporters used to be students of the University of Theatre and Film Arts where one of their master was Tamás Vitray, a famous Hungarian journalist and reporter. Maybe he defines the best the essence of the show:
"They need some kind of gentle madness, some craziness to travel to dangerous places, and it is especially good that they don't push themselves in front of their interviewees: so the audience can see more than foreign, ominous scenes about strange places, they see two Hungarian kids who temporarily move in the given medium."
Two reporters, two small hand cameras
The specialty of On The Spot is that the reporters travel only with two small hand cameras, they don't have a big, professional crew with them. They "grab the hands" of the viewers, their fresh energy carries the audience with them, so they represent a foreign country not only from the distance. Their questions are emphatic, their style is talkative, their interviews are different from the well-know question-answer schema. The filmmaker's role model is Robert Capa, so it is not a coincidence that they chose their motto from him. Capa said "If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough." So the two journalists also try to get as close to the actions and their interviewee as they can. However, it is not an easy task, usually it takes days or weeks until the people open their heart and start to talk to the journalists.
András S. Takács wrote about the films in their blog that: "The documentary is what matters. That 48 minutes, where we try to put in all the information, the experience, the color, the smell, the face, the atmosphere and the story, which shows what the current country is about, where the specific On The Spot is shooting or what the story is about we want to tell."
Although, it is not the aim of the films to change the way people are thinking. Eszter in our interview said, that they can only wish that the viewers forget once in a month for an hour their everyday life and learn with them together something about a hidden culture.
In the focus of the films are always average people, but the reporters also talked with famous politicians, e.g. with the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon or Evo Morales, Bolivian president. They earn international reputation with entering secretly those countries where journalists are not allowed to go. The short version of their film about Burma was seen on the BBC, and they had a live broadcast from Gaza in November 2012 when the air war between Israel and Gaza just started.
But what motivates them so much? Eszter told us, it is the curiosity what motivates them and they never want to lose it. And of course all the feedback, because they see there is an audience who is interested in their films.
Personal advices to the youth
So why are these journalists so special? They write blog, articles, they are active on YouTube, Facebook, they find interesting topics, they prepare and shoot the films by themselves. This is a new type of journalism, they are the pioneer if the digital journalism.
Their advice to the readers of the European Youth Portal is, that we should be brave to follow our dreams because the reporters also succeed. András thinks, if we truly believe in an idea, if it is really good, we shouldn't give up until someone doesn't grab it. There are many stories about failing 4-5 times and the success came only after these failures.
Eszter furthermore suggests us, never let us push down only because we are too young! Don't let them!
And the movie goes on... As András once said in an interview, hopefully we will get even more films from them in the future: "there are a huge amount of material to be processed, not only in films but also in ourselves [...] The next step will be to make deeper, more honest films, more closer to the reality."
Written and translated by Alexandra Soós