Zsolt Pozsgai /1960/ writer, theatre and film director, screenwriter. Born in Pécs, Hungary, after high school he worked as an ambulance nurse, teacher, bar singer and much more. After that he entered the theatre world, where he still works as a playwright and director. Since 2005, he has also worked as a film director and scriptwriter. So far he has written and directed four feature films and sixteen television films. He has written scripts for television series. His films have received many awards from festivals around the world. He has served as a jury member at many film festivals. He teaches at the University of Arts. He directs most of his own plays and films. He is married with two daughters.
NY Elite: Congratulations on making it to the ISC finals. What does it mean for your work to make it to the New York International Screenwriting Competition?
Zsolt Pozsgai: It is a real confirmation that a story can be interesting not only in Hungary or Europe. It’s about universal human situations that can be experienced by audiences wherever they live in the world.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work you’ve been involved with at the ISC? What is your experience with the ISC? What is the story about?
Zsolt Pozsgai: The story is about a successful, lonely man in one of the rarest of professions: ruining what others have created for significant sums of money. He is an accomplished chemist, chemist and physicist, and has become a billionaire because global companies can’t make products that last and last and are used for a long time. Because then they would have to produce less and lay off workers. They are forced to make products that are too good, and someone has to ruin them so that customers don’t notice. The hero of my film is one of the most respected experts on this subject. He will ruin everything if he has to. A washing machine, toothpaste, car tyres, anything. He does this work alone in a huge underground laboratory. He has no life of his own, sometimes employing a paid young prostitute. All is going well when he makes a mistake in reducing the life of a car tyre, causing a tragedy, an exploding tyre kills a young bride and her mother. The groom, who happens to be the developer of the long-lasting rubber, vows revenge and sets out to find the villain. It’s not easy, because the big companies are keeping secret who he is and where he lives. Eventually he finds him, kills him and the young prostitute. However, there’s no stopping the Rotting Man: in the morgue, he puts himself and the girl together. He is capable of corrupting even death.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about yourself and your artistic talent?
Zsolt Pozsgai: I live and work as a happy man, first because I have a wonderful family, a wife and two beautiful daughters. I’ve been writing plays and screenplays for thirty years, directing most of them myself. So far I have written nearly a hundred plays, all of which have been staged, not only in my country but all over the world. In New York, a play of mine is in rehearsal in a theatre. It’s the same with films. I’ve written hundreds of scripts for series, I’ve made dramatic films and many other things. Talent? I don’t know what it is. My actors are fanatical about working with me, the audience accepts my plays and films and they make them a success. Maybe it’s talent, maybe not.
NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?
Zsolt Pozsgai: I’ve written a lot of TV series scripts. But I also write feature films, youth films, absurdist poetry films, depending on the form the subject matter requires.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects you’ve been involved in?
Zsolt Pozsgai: My first film was a poetic film, an art film called CSENDKÚT, it defined my career. Its success confirmed me that no audience should be taken for fools. The second and third were Hungarian history films. i really like history, and the film foundation in hungary now supports more and more films that help us to learn about the past, which i think is a very good thing.
NY Elite: What type of scripts would you like to write in your career?
Zsolt Pozsgai: Many and varied. I like to write crime, tragedy, film comedy. In Hungarian we always add the word “play” to the definition of the word film. That’s the main thing. Filmmaking is a game, and the viewer likes to play.
NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
Zsolt Pozsgai: I’ve written most plays and screenplays for specific actors. There are no character templates for me to use in a screenplay. I write the character and the actor adds their own personality to it, that’s how the final character is created. Of course, this only works if it’s a talented actor. A good character is not white or black, not good or bad. Whether it is a negative or positive character, it must always have its own truth. As opposed to the other character. If you don’t have that, there is no catharsis.
NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?
Zsolt Pozsgai: In the spring I’ll start shooting a big-budget Hungarian historical film, and in the summer I’ll start shooting a television film. After that I have theatre directing projects for this year. And I’m looking forward to this script, which is in the final stages, being loved by a producer who is looking for similar values in a film as I am. A screenwriting competition is a great thing, but the goal is still to make it happen. I would love to direct this with a well-known, talented actor.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in other ways?
Zsolt Pozsgai: As a director myself, directing takes up all my time, I don’t really have much else to do.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a career out of
Zsolt Pozsgai: That film writing and directing cannot be taught in school. Just like you can’t train a writer. You have to read a lot, watch a lot of films to develop your own individual vision. There is no point in copying others. There’s no point in working from templates, because that’s not true writerly happiness. And even the scriptwriter has to know the technical conditions, the cinematography, the sound engineering, the acting. You have to be there at the birth of as many films as possible. So that the unity of theory and practice can create in you a theme and a work. Then you can go to school. Then you can’t go wrong.