Yesterday was our sixth day of shooting. Today we are off. Tomorrow begins the final three-day push. I am tired but pleased. I would like to sleep, but I would also like to write about what has transpired since Lupa Beach while the details are fresh in my mind.

The White Light Studio

Each day on the White Light Studio film stage starts with crew gathering around the cappuccino machine. There is the solemn ritual of shaking hands with everyone. “Good morning. How are you? Did you sleep well? What are we doing today?”   The make-up and hair department, Anita and Lejla, usually arrive first.

Anita and Lejla

Because I played myself in a scene yesterday, I was picked up at 5:45 AM and deposited into capable hands. They were done with me by 6:30, while the rest of the crew was still arriving, so we sat and talked quietly about life. Andi, the unit manager, joined us. This was a rare thing. Her call sheets for each day are marvels of precision, with each person and each task (make-up, costumes, set-decoration, lighting, rehearsals, and shooting) in its allotted time slot. We compared the pace of life in Hungary and in The United States. They are the same. The young women working on my film are utterly beholden to the beck and call of their smartphones, juggling projects and social life. Andi, the Queen of Organization, quite surprised me by playing one of her favorite songs on her cell phone, “An Old-Fashioned Gal,” who rejects social media and her smart phone for a quieter old-fashioned life.

Unit Manager, Queen of Organization, Old Fashioned Gal


I thought that everything I would write to you about my experience in Hungary would be different, exotic and exciting, but so much is global. I think that’s the biggest difference between when I started shooting on foreign locations forty-five years ago, and now.   A benefit, not to be underestimated, is talking with Sharon at least once a day on Facetime. Our conversations are a daily re-affirmation of a transcendent bond.

And what about filming? It is going so well that it’s kind of scary. Knock on wood. What catastrophe lurks around the corner? I have three days to go, then I need to get home safely with all my gear and all the footage, backed up on three different drives in three different suitcases.

A recurring theme in the story is of a boy’s longing for his father’s gaze and approbation. Little Pal gets to carry his father’s sword.   Little Tom wakes from night terrors to be comforted by his father. Little Pal sees his father stash his revolver under his pillow. Little Tom learns about Mutual Assured Destruction from his dad. Old Tom (that’s me, now) tries to comfort his younger self by sharing in building a tower of blocks. Each day I am time-travelling, greeting different manifestations of myself, and half a dozen family members.

Andor and Pál, my grandfather and my father (aged 5), played by Péter Hajdú and Olivér Ivaskovics.


Me and my eleven-year olf self, played by Samu Bagi


Andor Valentiny, my 2nd cousin, plays me at the age of 18.


My hero Ingmar Bergman, the famous Swedish filmmaker, saw the theater and film productions by extension, as a community of souls that came together to manifest stories—stories that are universal and more real than the every-day reality that surround us. This feels especially resonant at this moment in my life. More and more the news of the world seems like meagre and questionable facts, encased in a blanket of rabid and fearful speculation. In contrast, The White Light Studio has been my theater, my place of wonders and time travel. Three weeks ago, in the Paris airport, I evoked Truffaut’s metaphor of a film production being like a stage coach journey in the Old West. Now I would like to add to that metaphor, and climb on board that coach in the persona of a mail-order-bride. I’ve been like that bride in the sense that my prospects for a suitable match in my own country were nil.   I lacked an adequate dowry. Only by abandoning familiar surroundings for uncharted territory could I hope to find a viable “situation,”  but the risks were great. What if my prospective “husband,” never seen with my own eyes, represented only by images on a screen, turned out to be a cad, a cheat, and a scoundrel? Most fortunately, and to my great relief, he/she has not. He/she has been as good as gold.

Thank you, Andor, Andrea, Andrea, Anita, Anita, Anna, Árpád, Bence, Bori, Csenge, Dániel , Dániel, Dóri, Edina, Eszter, Fecó, Gerg, Gerg, Károly, Kristóf, László, Lejla , Lorinc, Márió, Máté, Máté, Melina, Olivér, Ottó, Péter, Samu, Kincso, Tamás, Tamás, Tibor, Virág, Zoltán, Zoltán, Zsófi, Zsófia, Zsolt, Zsuzsi and Zsuzsi.