Former Puppy Time kid’s star Christophe Dombovari is still the dominant character on TV, he’s just on the other side of the camera, and he’s producing the shows. Graduated from Florida Metropolitan University. He worked as a presenter and then directed productions such as Fish on the Cake, Real World, Victory Show, or Degree of Dread. The director was then replaced with a production job and became the production manager at PaprikaStudios, the largest software producer in Central and Eastern Europe, and as a producer who has recorded shows such as Voice, Rising Star, or more recently Dancing with the Stars. We talked to him about the era in which he was a child, the peculiarities of the type of reality, and how a fish on the cake differs for Hungarians from it in Scandinavia.
He was a steadfast character in Kid Time, but found himself a way out. How did you get to the other side of the camera?
My career started at the age of six. I was just sitting in class looking for kids for a production. They referred to our spouses, so I started picking a kids show. Hundreds of children were eventually elected, and since then everything has gone its own way: I also got into choosing Puppet Time. In my last year of high school, I’m no longer on screen, I went to Canada, and I graduated college in Florida. Then after graduation I came home and picked the other side of the camera, which was partly conscious. I’ve always been interested in directing. Takera Vera gave us all amazing opportunities at Puppy Time, for example, I was able to direct a short fictional movie when I was 16 years old. Since then, I consciously chose the major of director and producer in my studies.
What did your parents say about entering the world of television at such a young age?
My mother was a doll actress and stage director, and my dad was a TV and radio presenter, so they didn’t object.
But just because they saw the profession, didn’t they fear?
No. I was on TV before my dad. My parents never sent me in this direction, but just like the son of a baker often becomes a baker, so it was only natural for me to be in the middle. There was one very important thing: In addition to the quoted clowning, I had to learn languages and graduate from college. There were dogs who went to a private school, and that was out of the question for me. Most of my teachers supported me, although some wanted to overthrow me. However, this risk was not threatened, and fortunately I was always a good student.
How does your reputation as a child affect your personality development? There weren’t many shows at the time, everyone knew puppies.
We cannot walk on the street without getting to know us; We always had to have a little picture of ourselves so we could drop it if someone asked to sign. But we took it in a more natural way at the time. There was no background noise in the media like today, nor online interfaces, nor social media. So if someone saw you, it was all about oh, but you’re cute, would you give me an autograph? This is what remains. It even gave me confidence when later I had to speak or be in front of so many people.
Would such a children’s show succeed in today’s world?
With the advent of commercial televisions, in second screen streaming, it was not possible to envision similar viewing successes with such a show as before. Today’s television is largely fragmented, a show of this nature that would not be a competitor today. This does not mean that in its place, that is, in public service television, it cannot have a reason for its existence. There is still content flowing from kids to kids.
He got his degree and came home, what’s the next step?
Commercial television really began at that time. I almost never got off the plane when a longtime acquaintance visited me to see if there was a show that I should make, would I make it. I immediately answered yes and then to the next production.
Why did I switch to directing reality shows?
At that time there was a great blood revival in the commercial channels. There were a lot of people who moved elsewhere, and the big business tax professionals also came. But when Real World’s first series needed 12 directors, the market back then was suddenly abundant. By that time, I had already received a series of requests. Maybe because of what I learned in America, I stood out differently than everything, because they’ve been there in the midst of commercial television for so long. This is how the three series came out from the real world, Show of Victory and Degree of Awe.
How was your behavior different from that of your home professionals?
It is an applied art. It is not the director’s job to dream about something new or to formulate the show in his own image, here the product must be made with great precision and professionalism. At the time, many people tended to question the proven methods abroad, but I soon realized that you could only be a professional in this profession if you practiced this applied art and did not wish to save the world.
What exactly is a director’s role in a reality show? Take the real world, for example.
A lot of actors, four cinematographers, forty-eight cameras and a voice have to be seen. Once. The director has to tie together incoherent, uncontrollable conversations. For example, if you have great conversation in a small room, compiling the materials will reveal whether you have enough recordings, materials and voice, and whether the characters are naturally visible. This all sounds like a factory router, but it’s a very complex process. At the time, there was no director specializing in this. This isn’t even taught because you can’t prepare for it. The so-called reality link type comes with an ongoing pregnancy that doesn’t actually happen anywhere else.
If bringing out a real world was under such intellectual pressure, how could he bear it for so many seasons?
I was young. Everything was so new that the adrenaline worked in us for months and we enjoyed every moment. Reality came across screens in a way never before seen on Hungarian television at the time. And the keeper was very good. I have worked with excellent colleagues, and chemistry is very important in this genre. He had to trust the other to see how much he could rest if he broke up after seven hours of sleep at 7 a.m. It had to be understood in half a word. This interconnected position has created a community so powerful that even today we look at each other with great respect, we love each other.
How did you see the perception of the real world back then, and how now, after the show has come under several criticism, is it inherently questionable situations? show me ?
This is a subjective question and a question of judging whether or not the quality of the good quality or not. I was saying that we are actually bakers who bake very good bread, but that’s all we have to do. We can still identify which rye loaf or wheat flour we think is most popular, but how true that is is not our table to judge. Each presentation, including the closing reality, has a twist, as the stimulus threshold was different from what it is now. At the same time, let’s not forget that there is also an opportunity that can be evaluated in a completely positive way in programs like this, because it shows problems that we may not even realize that they may be present in our life. And if we make it clear in the background, accompanying presentations or on web interfaces that what we see is bad and why it is bad, then we can do good with our viewers.
On the Partizan YouTube channel, Marton Golias spoke to Gyz Gaspar, among other things, about how aware they are of the fact that Győzike represents Roma families on TV. How do you think the program affected the perception of the Roma?
This is a social issue in this format rather than broadcast. It is not my duty to judge how the perception of Roma in Hungary is based on an offer. The channel’s management decided to be on the screen of the winners, and that the creator of entertainment reality is to return the actions of the characters on the show to the viewer as faithfully as possible.
But does it depend on the director to show you what he sees?
The situations we display are not created by us. We call this the following reality. Obviously, there are situations where we say we’ll look at, for example, what it’s like when you go to a store, but what happens there, in the store, really depends on the actors. In my time the director and editor did not play a decisive role in developing every scene.
What is your favorite type of program?
As a producer, the types of shows closest to me are Dancing with the Stars, Rising Star, or The Voice. I feel the best in this genre.
What makes it possible for Voice to only live for one season at home, unlike X-Factor, and rise overseas in many countries?
You need to know about these offers that they are very expensive, and there are also more expensive ones. Sound falls into this category. It was a hit show at home as well, but it was surprisingly expensive.
PaprikaStudios produces many similar or even the same shows for other countries. What are the differences to consider?
The framework for such programs is specific, but it does differ from culture to culture as to the content that can be filled with it. In Central and Eastern Europe the differences can be very large. Cite Fish on the Cake as an example, which was an international series that ran hundreds of episodes from Bulgaria to Norway. In Norway, for example, it suffices for five famous people to sit at the table and appreciate each other’s cooking. Conflicts receive much more attention in Central and Eastern Europe. There is also a difference in how the participant advertises. For example, if someone wins a show Hal on the Cake at home, they are sure to have some emotional reactions, whereas a Slovenian would prefer to say with a shaky face that thank you so much. While in the Nordic countries you usually have to search for a Class A Celebrity to get a reality. At home, Class B and C celebrities are best able to attract that interest. And yes, no one should be offended, but there is such a classification.
Are there noticeable differences in the displays as well?
The eyes of the Hungarian viewer were very spoiled: every show wants to put a little light on the previous show. In Dancing with the Stars, for example, we used a moving camera device, of which there are only two in the world. There are countries where in much smaller studios, with less equipment, they can bring in the same audience, and the visual world is our standard.
How useful is it to have two different channels competing with similar programs at the same time?
We don’t see this as a competition. As a producer, our mission is to provide the software of the highest quality based on the client’s request. It is not up to us in the time zone in which these programs are placed. Never before have our businesses of the same kind conflict with one another.
PaprikaStudios is a big company, producing a lot of shows, was it able to adapt to the epidemic constantly, easily?
Even in the first wave, we received a lot of information from the Swedish parent company so we were able to prepare and implement updated protocols. Different rules apply to each production, depending on its production capabilities. Obviously, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the survivor, the real world, or the dancing with the stars on screen. At the same time, of course, there is no difference between the measures: the health and safety of the production participants is of primary importance.
Has the past year had a big impact in terms of programming or TV habits?
There is perhaps a very strong demand for non-cloud entertainment content that elevates viewers from everyday problems. It is really a lot of fun. Apparently, every creative person tried to capture this viral situation in the home office, wrapping the theme of the show around it, but it quickly became apparent that people did not want to return from TV to what they were experiencing at home. They want to see colorful, loud and fun things, and engaging stories.
(Cover photo: Christophe Dombovari.Photo: Tamas Suki / Index)