Tarr began to realize his interests with film-making at the age of 16 by making amateur films and later working as a caretaker at a national House for Culture and Recreation. Most of his amateur works were documentaries, mostly about the life of workers or poor people in urban Hungary. His amateur work brought him to the attention of the Béla Balázs Studios (named in honor of the Hungarian cinema theorist, Béla Balázs), which helped fund Tarr’s 1977 feature debut Családi tűzfészek (Family Nest) at the age of 22. Tarr shot the film without any budget with non-professional actors (participating in the film only by “friendship” and without any salary) and on original locations in six days. The film was faithful to the “Budapest School” or “documentarist” style popular at the time within Béla Balázs Studios, maintaining absolute social realism on screen. Critics found the film to be suggestive of an influence from the directorial work of John Cassavetes, though Tarr denied having seen any of Cassavetes’s films prior to shooting Családi tűzfészek. The film was eventually released in 1979.