Attila Korosi has a unique and wonderful story on his way to writing, directing and producing his first film “Maze of Fate.” He was born in the former country of Yugoslavia and witnessed many atrocities growing up in the war riddled country. He earned his way out of the country with an athletic scholarship to the University of Tulsa. After graduating he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion of filmmaking. He funded his dream film by completing 10,000 Uber rides and working around the clock with a take-no-prisoners, entrepreneurial and creative mindset.
Annenberg Media: Tell me about where you are from and your life growing up?
Korosi: I was born in Yugoslavia and I grew up in the war that separated the country. Growing up in a war as a kid is not as bad as you may think. People are nicer and closer to each other. Electricity was often out so we spent nights sharing stories, singing and laughing a lot. My dad owned a VHS business and during times when we had electricity I watched a variety of movies. I have many visual memories from this time — playing hide and seek in bombarded buildings, making toys out of bomb remains, running after tanks and so on...it might sound crazy but my imagination flourished.
What challenges did you face at school and in the community?
Korosi: As the war progressed the sense of nationalism grew stronger. Since my dad is Hungarian and my mom Serbian, I learned to speak both languages at the same time. As a result, I developed a very thick accent and people didn’t consider me pure blooded so I was often left out, bullied and made fun of. Thanks to the love and the teachings of my parents, I learned that in life everything is about perspectives. I learned how to channel negative energy and turn obstacles into opportunities. Later in life this ability came in very handy while making my feature film in East Los Angeles.
Annenberg Media: What values from childhood helped you the most today?
Korosi: I feel extremely lucky that my parents took a very unorthodox approach in raising me. The human brain develops the fastest within the first three years of life. Knowing this, my father took the opportunity to subconsciously influence me by exposing me to a high level of creative art. This included; watching commercials, classics and artsy movies, teaching history, reading philosophy, learning to name the Beatles as well as famous opera singers, painters, and so on…my parents were aware that as a kid I would have no clue what they are introducing me to, however, they believed, all that verbal, visual and kinetic communication would without a doubt register and take roots inside my subconsciousness. Ultimately shaping my personality, creativity and character. I’m super grateful for the love and attention they gave to my sister and I. My sister is actually the actress and the executive producer of my film, “Maze of Fate.”
Annenberg Media: What values were stressed at home?
Korosi: Mother always said if I want to do something I have to find a way, no matter how hard it is I have to find a way. She always stressed never to pity myself and not to use excuses. When I told people I want to make a movie they laughed at me and said it’s impossible. I was surprised because I thought people in America still believe in dreams. I grew up in war and I had to find my way to come to America, so the word impossible doesn’t mean much to me. To make a movie I had to become creative and unconventional, just as my parents were with me when I was a kid. So what did I do? I started driving Uber. Driving Uber exposed me to a whole new Los Angeles and to a bunch of interesting people. I gave almost 10,000 Uber rides to make my movie happen.
Annenberg Media: How did you write the script, cast, and film “Maze of Fate” in East L.A.?
Korosi: As I was driving I got exposed to East L.A., which immediately reminded me of war. Not in the negative sense, but the meaning of family, loyalty and the closeness of the people, is what reminded me of home. I started talking with strangers. The closer I became with the native Angelenos the more people they introduced me to. These newly found connections turned into a casting process and I kept adjusting the script to the resources and to the people that were becoming available to me. This kind of approach really brought out my creativity and it became the genesis of my film. I became friends with gang members, ex-gang members turned actors, and with the regular people of the neighborhood. I was invited into their homes. I experienced their everyday lives. The bond I formed with some families went beyond filmmaking. I recall getting a phone call from Sara, a mom of a 13-year-old Daniel, who was about to get kicked out of school. She called to ask if I could go to the school and talk with the principal. I went in and told them the kid is great, he has a great memory, works hard and follows directions well. Then I mentioned Cesar Garcia and Richard Cabral’s name, I even pulled out my cell phone and showed them the trailer of the “Fast & Furious 4”. Half of the trailer is Cesar running from Paul Walker...then I pull out a scene from my film, “Maze of Fate,” where Daniel is in the scene next to Cesar...man, the people I showed the footage to were mesmerized. The meeting ended well and Daniel remained in school. These kinds of experiences are priceless and I have plenty of them. The sum of it all is what makes this movie significant.
Annenberg Media: What drew you to film and media?
Korosi: It is such an exciting medium. When you are writing or creating you become like a God. You can make whatever you want. Through this medium I want to express myself to the world. This is how I intend to make my family proud. Also, my competitive nature, to prove to myself that I can do something that others deem impossible, is a huge driving force.
Annenberg Media: Why Hollywood and why now?
Korosi: I’m at the perfect age and I have been through a lot where I can contribute a creative perspective that has not been contributed before. Through my journey I’ve accumulated emotional experiences that are priceless. My upbringing, the war, the 10,000 Uber rides are pretty much my mentors.
Annenberg Media: How did it feel having screened your first major production at Sony Pictures?
Korosi: It was a surreal experience! As a kid I loved “Ghostbusters,” which is a Sony Pictures film. Screening it at Sony gives me confidence that I was doing something right. Especially when people like John Ptak, Steven Schneider and Max Joseph approve of the film. Experiencing the ovation for the first time...it’s impossible to describe the feeling without tears. It gives me so much energy.
Annenberg Media: Where do you want to go in the industry and life?
Korosi: I want to grow into a director whose name alone will sell out theaters and create global buzz. This was made by Attila and people want to come and see it. That’s what I want.
Attila Korosi’s Top Ten Films
1. “Rear Window”
2. "High Noon"
4. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
5. “Amores Perros”
7. “The Big Blue”
9. “Leon the Professional”