JULY 10 - JULY 13, 2024

Interview | Too Late

Movie: Too Late
Directly: Szabó László Pál


1.Hello Szabó , welcome to The SIFF. Tell us how your journey in the films began?

I had various hobbies when I was a primary school student, and I didn’t have an interest in making movies until the start of high school. I  remember when I was on vacation with my family and I saw a film director faculty advertisement. At that very moment, I started to think about working in the movie industry. Throughout high school, I began to learn about famous directors and films and started attending a local film club where I acquired film analysis. Last summer I got an offer from the club leader, also my friend, to take over the film club. It was an enormous opportunity for me, and I grabbed the chance immediately. I directed my first short film this winter for my university application, and that was the same film I got a nomination for at the SIFF, Too Late.


2.Szabó, how did you come up with the story?

I wanted to create a film that has a message, represents my beliefs, and is not just a series of happenings. I knew that the movie must be a Scandinavian-style film because those are very unique, and have a deep impact on everyone who is watching them. So I took the two most important values in my life: Christianity, and family. I was on a train going home, and I pictured what it would be like if a teenager who has strict parents, announced that his girlfriend is pregnant. I fell in love with this scenario for some reason, and I started writing the script immediately. I told my idea to my friend Hector Illés, who is the main character in the film, and he loved it too. I  am grateful to my family because they helped me smoothen the story.


3.What is an ideal relationship according to you?

It is hard to summarize it. For me, it’s when my partner and I have similar interests, and we get along well despite our differences. We are going on our way no matter what anybody says. I know it’s perfect when we can just be and don’t need to speak every minute. 


4.Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to filmmaking?

The one director who had the most impact on me is David Lynch. Not just because his movies are unbelievably great, but because he is also a philosopher in my eyes. He makes films like no one else, and he thinks like no one else. He taught me how to catch ideas, how to create something memorable, and when to create. It is so baffling to me, how a peaceful, happy, calm man like Lynch can make such disturbing, sometimes non-sense, but at the same time exciting, and beautiful movies. I am also inspired by Ruben Östlund because his vision is moving, and thought-provoking.


5.As a director, what is your vision?

In my vision, movies are something to learn from, they have to make us think, show another point of view. These are the main aspects for me when it comes to filmmaking. I think of movie-making as a mission. I feel I can, and I have to show people different values, to highlight today’s problems. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to change anybody’s opinion directly. I just want to show a mirror, and at the same time show a mirror to myself also. I want my films to have messages, values, and topics to discuss. Movies have to show us how close we are to something disastrous, or how far we are from a certain value.


6.What kind of stories do you want to share with your audience?

Very similar to what I answered in the previous question. I want people to feel uncomfortable, but also to be entertained by the story I tell. I believe the story must be relatable to the audience in order to make them feel like it’s about us, humanity. The story, the topic of the movie is the expression of the opinion of the writer/director. I want stories that tell the uncensored reality about a certain subject. For me, the most important themes are the fate of today’s teenagers, religion, and the depressing future in the digital world.


7.Szabó, what does the cross symbolize in your film?

Before I even came up with the story, I knew that the last shot was going to be at that cross. I left the meaning of it open on purpose. I believe this way, everyone can interpret it as they wish. Personally, it symbolizes that no matter what you have done, God is always right next to you, even if you did some thoughtless action. The cross also summarized the film’s values: the importance of family, and God.


8.Movie making is an experience. Would you like to share how your first experience was?

Making my first film, Too late was an amazing experience. I have never directed a movie before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew. It will be memorable. I thought, since it’s only going to be three minutes, it won’t be that difficult to keep things in mind, but it turned out I was wrong. It was so challenging to make it exactly three minutes long, not shorter, not longer. I imagined that the film needs to have a wintery look, with cold landscapes, and fortunately, the weather was perfect on the shooting day, but at the same time, it was so freezing that at the end everyone was shaking from being cold. It was also memorable because I had an amazing crew for whom I can thank a lot, and also I am very grateful for the work of the entire Illés family. The movie wouldn’t have been able to be born without them.


9.Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Well, it’s not that easy to look so further into the future. I hope I will be working in the movie industry, not sure whether here in Hungary or abroad. I want to have a personal, engaged crew working with me by that time, and of course a family. I hope I’ll be working with Hector Illés and his sister Marta in the future. I am very much looking forward to it, they are so talented. 


10.Lastly, Szabó, it would be great if you could share your experience of working with The SIFF!

The SIFF was the very first film festival for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it while the festival was running. When I submitted my film, I wouldn’t have thought that it would get a nomination for best international short film. It’s so amazing to experience how caring, and friendly The SIFF is. All selected movies here are interesting, thoughtful, and valuable. I can only thank this film festival, and I hope that I’ll be working with The SIFF in the future.


Thank you for your time, Szabó! It was a great chat!


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