Published on November 7th, 2013 | by gareth0
Tamas Harangi Talks To Us About “The Advocate”
Released on DVD November 19, The Advocate is a Grisham-esque thriller about a gifted defense attorney Ray Shekar (Sachin Mehta) who finds himself in the middle of a twisted game of who-done-it when his curiosity prompts him to take on the case of Allyson Daugherty (Kristina Klebe), a socialite accused of murdering her husband. The man behind the acclaimed new drama, writer/director Tamas Harangi talks to us about his arresting feature.
First of all, I’d like to ask about your background. Where do you come from? How did you wind up in Hollywood?
I grew up in a small town in Hungary and got bitten by the movie bug fairly early. I started making short films on Super-8 when I was 16. I think it was after seeing Back to the Future that I decided that I must go to this place called Hollywood and where movies like that are made.
You’ve directed some shorts before. Is this your first full-length project? Was it a challenge to get off the ground?
It was indeed quite challenging, but I had good producing team with my partners Sachin Mehta and Matthew Temple along with our Executive Producer Nalin Shah who believed in the project and wanted to see it get made. The biggest challenge was really making it stay off the ground once got going, but again, we had an amazing team and we managed to pull it off.
How long did it take to get the movie done, from pre-production to release? It’s a much longer journey than most would assume I believe?
One of the things we did with the preparation of this film was to figure out in advance the ballpark of the production parameters, and by that I mean, how much money we could feasible raise on our own, then I went back to my notebook of ideas and pulled out the one that I thought we could do on that budget and started working on it. So, because of that, we were actually able to start laying the groundwork for the production itself while the script was being developed. With this approach, it was a year and half from me writing “Fade in:” to the start of principal photography—but then of course we had to do all the post work, which took another year due to our budget constraints.
What were your inspirations in writing the script – I assume, some John Grisham was in there?
Yes, I love the way Grisham dissects the mindset of his attorney characters in his books, and I was trying to get to that feel here as well. But for the mood and style of the film, for me it was really about studying the works of Alfred Hitchcock and the brilliant ways he made these kinds of head twist thrillers expand beyond what was sometimes a very limited amount of locations. Another influence was the work of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, a fellow Hungarian and an idol of mine.
Did you know much about the legal system before the film, or is that where research came in?
I’ve always had a fascination with these kinds of stories. Having grown up in a country that was still communist at the time, the American legal and political system was very exotic to me when I first moved here. So, that’s where some of the ideas came from, but the truth is a I had a secret ingredient which is that the star of our movie, Sachin Mehta, who is also my producing partner, is actually a trial attorney in real life. As I was writing the script we’d go out to lunch I would pick his brain on the various legal concepts and details of the case in our story. He provided a tremendous amount of detail and authenticity to the script as well as his on screen character with his portrayal.
How did you find your actors?
It was interesting because everyone in the principal cast we found through a different means than the others. We had auditions, sure, but what often happens with those is an actor comes in reading for a particular part, and you realize mid read that they would be a perfect match for a different part in the script. So, you have to do these mix and match games to end up with the right combination. But with the likes of our female lead Kristina Kelebe, and Michael Raynor, who plays our veteran cop character, they came highly recommended by people they’ve worked with before, and we had instances like Steffinnie Phrommany who I saw in a little play in LA and wanted to work with—these small stages in LA have real hidden gems both in terms of acting talent and playwrites so I love going to them.
Where abouts was the film shot?
We shot it in Los Angeles, and it’s an LA Noir story thru and thru. I tried to make the city itself a character in the film.
Osiris Entertainment is releasing the film on DVD. When and how did they discover it?
TWe first screened at the Durango Independent Film Fest and got the award for Best Narrative Feature so that helped start getting the word out on the film. Then we were in the Dances With Films Festival in LA and that’s were we finalized our deal with Osiris. And I’m proud to have another festival lined up before our release, the Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles. So if you’d like to come see us on the big screen and ask me questions afterwards, come check us out. The site for the fest is http://hffla.com/
Amazon.com stock “The Advocate” from November 19