Case Study: Filmefex

When Ivan Poharnok founded the Budapest-based special effects company Filmefex in 1996, most of the work was for commercials. Now it’s almost exclusively feature films. This year, Filmefex has already doubled up on Universal’s “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” and “Nutcracker: The Untold Story,” a $65 million English-Canadian-Hungarian co-production.

Filmefex specializes mostly in makeup and prosthetics work. On “Hellboy 2,” the company was involved in making a special creature for a scene that takes place in a troll market, as well as building statues and several full-sized replicas of the Golden Army.

Since 2003, foreign companies filming in Hungary have been able to claim back 20% of production costs by hiring Magyar know-how. The additional attraction of comparatively cheap labor means Budapest is gradually becoming an attractive destination for producers of special-effects-laden pics.

“When American productions come to Hungary, there’s a kind of distance at first,” says Poharnok, who prior to setting up his company spent a year in Hollywood working for several makeup effects shops.

“We have to prove ourselves on each film. The way it happens usually is that we get a smaller stake of the work and then when they feel we can handle it, they start giving us more. This was the case on ‘Hellboy 2,’ which we have now been working on since March.”

Filmefex, which has 10 permanent employees, collaborated with three other FX shops on “Hellboy 2”: U.S. company Spectral Motion and two London-based companies, Creature Effects and Solution Studios.

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