Life

Fourty years today. Wow.


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Turning 40 today, I feel like taking a quick peek back at how my life was back 20 years ago.

The year was 1999 and the biggest topic was y2k. Everyone was sure that when we turn the digits from 99 to 00, systems reset, data gets screwed up and everything will be shut down. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen. But the world was quite a different back then. 9/11 hadn’t happened and Leonardo DiCaprio was still the annoying brat from Titanic. That’s about as much as I can remember from those times from the top of my head, but let’s do a quick Google 20 years back, at the year 1999.

Not one but two of the most influential presidents of the time were going through the impeachment process in their countries – Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Bill Clinton of USA both had their troubles, but neither of the impeachment processes was successful. The war in Kosovo had started – and recently ended, with war criminals either on the loose or getting caught and dragged to trials. Columbine mass shooting sparked the first big gun debate across the USA that I can remember personally.

So the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In my own life, I had recently moved in with my then-girlfriend, the to-be-mother-of-my-child, and I was working on a film I didn’t know would end up changing my whole life. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the sixth installment of a long series of scifi comedies created by Samuli Torssonen, had recently released its’ first teaser, which claimed the film would come out in the year 2000 (or with some luck, even a bit earlier!), and I was signed up as the director. Little did we know, it would take another 6 years before the film would be finished, and almost none of the footage we had shot by then would end up in the movie (if I’m not mistaken, there’s one clip, the bit where Info calculates the probability of the losses, which made it to the final film).

I didn’t have personally any dreams or hopes of becoming a filmmaker back then – as you can see from the teaser above, Star Wreck became much more serious only after the release of the teaser, which prompted us to revisit the VFX and the material we had shot.

Having said that, prying back into my head 20 years ago is much harder than one would think. What was important to me back then? I loved metal music, I had just recently discovered David Bowie, I enjoyed roleplaying games back then. My operating system was Windows NT, phone Nokia 3310 and I loved Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I was working at a telemarketeering company, I think I was still in high school. My brother was still alive.

Nowadays, well, he’s dead. I miss him. I know I would have invited him over for my birthday bash, we would have talked about things 20 years ago. He would’ve remembered how I was a dumb kid back then. I would have said the same of him. He would’ve commented I’ve gained some weight. He probably would still be the skinny old him. We would have laughed, he had a very infectious laugh. I can hear it now in the back of my head.

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My brother Ville in 1999. Photo by Erkko Vuorensola.

Since twenty years, I’ve made a bunch of movies which I’m proud of – I’ve made some use of my time, I guess. I’m still working at marketing – when not making movies, or marketing them to either financiers or the end users, I’m working at an advertisement company, doing ads for other products. I enjoy it, it’s fun and creative enough to keep my mind busy. 

Health is one thing that takes a hit. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t in a great shape, but I wasn’t hurting. Now, my left knee and ankle both hurt and I need to take three different kind of pill every morning to keep my blood pressure in check. I try to do sports few times a week, but it’s not always possible.

Nowadays, I’m running a Macbook Pro with Catalina operating system. My phone is Huawei, I play God of War, I’ve sold all my CDs I was so proud back then after Spotify came onboard, but find myself collecting LPs today instead. I have a wife now and I love her. She’s the funniest dumbass I know, and I can’t spend one day with her without her making me laugh out uncontrollably. And I have a son, he’s 14 years old, turning out to be a charming little champion.

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That’s my wife. 

 

And just like 20 years ago, the vibe of the upcoming decade change is anxious. Twenty years ago, I used to play roleplaying games, a hobby I sadly have forgotten since then. One of my favorite games was R. Talsorian Games’ Cyberpunk 2020 (released originally in 1990). It painted a picture of the future in my head, one which has stayed etched there clearly.

In Cyberpunk 2020, cars were flying, supercorporations running the world and everything was grimy, dark, sexy and dangerous. People had mini cellphones, everyone was toting an arsenal of guns with them, the techies were jacking on to the Net and mechanical chrome additions made bodies better, stronger – and prone to cyber psychosis.

Image result for cyberpunk 2020 cover

They didn’t hit that far off the mark; guns are a huge problem in the US, Internet is everywhere, cars are not flying but Tesla  (with their new Cybertruck – remains to be seen if it actually sticks or not) is definitely headed that direction and the supercorporations are getting more and more powerful, extending their grasp into governments like never before. Cellphones rule our world, our eyes are glued to their screens day and night, the real-life cyber psychosis is going on all around.

I’m looking forward for my next 20 years with the same anxiety as 20 years ago. I have no idea what’s coming up next. Will I make more films in the future? I bet I will; I was down that road 20 years ago, although I wasn’t that serious about it back then. But me, looking back at me 20 years from now will probably have just as hard time getting really into my mindset as I have when remembering myself 20 years ago.

The bluescreen gang. Antti Satama (Info), me and Samuli Torssonen (Pirk) 20 years ago.

Today, I’m 40. It’s been quite a ride so far, looking forward for the next 20 years!

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Me, some 35 years ago, combining two of my favourite hobbies: music – and movies. Photo by Erkko Vuorensola.
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Elokuvajournalistit, rauhoittukaa.


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Elokuvajulkaisujen rytmi ja niistä raportoiminen on alkanut todella tekemään hallaa niin elokuville kuin niistä nauttiville katsojillekin. Sitä mukaan kun nettijournalismin julkaisu- ja käsittelytahti kiihtyy, myös niistä kirjoittavien toimittajien paineet saada ulos ensimmäisenä kattavimmat arvostelut, laajimmat analyysit ja rajuimmat paljastukset kovenevat.

Kun vihdoin pitkään odottamasi elokuva laskeutuu teattereihin tai Netflixiin, on se jo mediassa ehditty ruotia niin puhki että teatteriin meneminenkin on jo statement. Meillä tavallisilla katsojilla kun ei ole mahdollisuutta nähdä puoli vuotta ennakkoon festivaaleilla näytettyjä elokuvia silloin, eikä journoilla tunnu pysyvän housut jalassa että he osaisivat pitää mölyt mahassaan edes enskariviikkoon asti.

Eikä leffajutuilta nykyään voi välttyäkään. Kyllä, olen yrittänyt väistellä esim. Jokeria käsitteleviä juttuja ennen sen julkaisua – mahdotonta. Elokuvan jokainen potentiaalinen skandaalin aihe raahattiin kansainvälisissä medioissa framille pitkään ennen kuin elokuva pääsi teattereihin missään päin maailmaa. Ja skandaalejahan riittää! Jokainen vähääkään kiinnostavampi elokuva luetaan nykyään kannanotoksi mielenterveydesta, tai #metoosta tai aselaeista tai mistä hyvänsä mistä otsikoita saadaan veisteltyä. Istu siinä sitten jouralistien ristitulessa jotka riitelevät siitä innostaako joku elokuva massamurhiin tai mihin hyvänsä kun itsellä ei ole mitään mahdollisuutta nähdä koko rainaa vielä pitkään aikaan.

Sitten tuli El Camino. Elokuva ehdittiin ylistää ja sitten lytätä ja hakata kappaleiksi mediassa Netflixin julkaisusekunnilla ja seuraavalla ylistää toisten kriitikoiden toimesta taivaisiin ja sitten alkoikin jo riita siitä, saako pitääkö voiko jne jne jne. Itse en ehtinyt perjantai-iltana tuijottamaan ruudun äärellä elokuvaa, halusin katsoa sen lauantaina – silloin se alkoikin jo olla vanha juttu.

Nyt jännitetäänkin Scorsesen seuraavaa, mutta johan sekin on ehditty nähdä jossain maailman kolkassa. Viiden, kuuden, seitsemän tähden arvosteluja satelee mutta itselläni ei ole vieläkään kunnon ymmärrystä koska tämän kohutun elokuvan pääsisi kukaan näkemään. Nyt jo journalistit kirjoittavat syväanalyysejaan elokuvasta ja sen julkaisumenetelmästä ja plip plap plop. Itse vaan pyörittelen päätäni että missä tämä elokuva on, kuinka sen voi nähdä, teatterissa vai kotisohvalta.

Etenkin skandaalinhakuinen leffajournalismi kaipaisi hieman jarrua höyryjyräänsä. Ymmärrän, väsyneitä näyttelijähaastatteluja ei kukaan jaksa enää lukea. Starakulttuuri on väljähtämään päin ja se ei ole yksinomaan huono asia  ja jotain jutun juurta pitää pystyä elokuvista kaivamaan että niistä puhuttaisiin. Tämän päivän nettiskandaali on toki huomioarvoltaan mitä parahinta bensaa tähän, mutta aika orvoksi sitä jää kun leffa keritään repimään kappaleiksi ja kursimaan kasaan ennen kuin sitä kukaan muu kuin alan omistautunein toimittaja ehtii näkemään.

Myös Netflixin (ja muiden streaming-palveluiden) epämääräiset julkaisuaikataulut tekevät leffanörtin elämästä entistä kaoottisempaa: tuleeko leffa teatteriin Suomessa, jos niin koska ja kuinka lyhyt ikkuna se on, pitääkö mennä sivuteatteriin katsomaan kohtalaisilla vermeillä vai olisiko IMAX tai edes Scape (vai mikäköhän Isense se olikaan nykyään) mahdollista?

Tiedän, sekavaa ja hieman turhautunutta rämbläystä mutta mutta. Arvon leffajournalisti. Blogaaja. Kolumnisti. Kulttuuritoimittaja: antakaa vähän armoa. Antakaa meidän katsoa leffa, puhutaan sitten. Säästäkää tulikivenkatkuisimmat analyysinne vaikka enskariviikkoa seuraavalle viikolle. Niin että ehditään vähän itsekin mutustelemaan, tehtävänänne ei ole ajatella ja jauhaa meidän puolestamme näitä kulttuurituotteita puhki ennen niiden julkaisua. Ettekä ole huonompia journoja jos ette ole heti ensimmäisten Buzzfeed-artikkeleiden seassa jakamassa korvaamattoman arvokkaita näkemyksiänne – tarjotkaa näkökulmaa elokuvan sen potentiaalisesti nähneille ihmisille. Väitän, että toimisi muuten paremmin pitkäjänteisemmän lukijakunnan kehittämisessä.

PS. Mainittakoon muuten etten erityisesti puhu suomalaisille journalisteille vaikka juttu onkin Suomeksi kirjoitettu. En vaan yksinkertaisesti jaksanut nakuttaa tätä enkuksi kun paukutan samaan aikaan kässäriä englanniksi toisella välilehdellä.

PPS. Enkä muuten vieläkään tiedä tai muista kirjoitetaanko Suomeksi vai suomeksi vai Englanniksi vai englanniksi. Ei vaan jää päähän. Vähän sama juttu > ja < -merkkien välillä. En ikinä opi kumpi meinaa kumpaa ja yksikään nokka sinne nokka tänne -ohje ei ole auttanut.
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How Joker destroyed the DC universe (and basically the rest of the superhero franchises).


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

I saw Joker last week and enjoyed the movie immensely. I think it was both entertaining, cinematic and interestingly written; unique and modern movie in the superhero franchise, the closest relative to it being Wolverine movie back a few years ago, but Todd Phillip’s Joker was on a whole different level. I’m not good at putting words to what I love, so you can read for example Mark Kermode’s review on Joker, which I think is pretty spot on.

But one thing I thought was apparent and clear in the film, but I haven’t come across mentioned, was the fact that it states that the whole DC Universe superhero universe is merely a figment of Arthur Fleck’s insanity. Apparently, here come the spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, do that first before reading this.

The movie itself is a tangled mess of fantasies and reality, told from the perspective of a schizophrenic mental patient. Sometimes, he sees things that are real, sometimes his narcissistic mental issues take the driver’s seat: he finds himself getting called in front after speaking out loud in a talk show audience; the girl in his apartment building who once smiled at him at an elevator becomes his girlfriend. The film itself doesn’t take too much screen time explaining which one is a reality, which is happening in his mind. It’s a very popular storytelling method in films about mental ill subjects – see A Beautiful Mind as a grand example of this.

At the end of the movie, after Fleck has killed Robert DeNiro’s talkshow host character, they take him to a police car and drive him away. On the way, he watches as riots sparked by his murder spree rage all over the city. Suddenly, we even leave his perspective and follow Bruce Wayne’s parents walking away from a theatre to a dark alley, getting whacked as it happens in the Batman lore. We go back to the car where Arthur is detained, and suddenly an ambulance crashes on the side of the car. A clown-masked person comes out and helps him on the hood of a car. There, slowly, he rises up, watching as the masses of masked freaks surround him and greet him as the messiah of them all.

Then we’re back at the hospital. The woman asks: “What are you laughing about”. He says he was just thinking of one thing. Obviously, none of that happened – the ambulance never crashed the car and Arthur never was rescued from the car and made the wicked messiah he fantasizes himself to be. But that’s not all. We cut now to a single shot of Bruce Wayne as a kid, surrounded by his dead parents. The implication is that this is where he becomes Batman; then, we cut back to Arthur. Again, this was part of his fantasy. This never happened. Since we’ve stayed with Arthur all the time, cutting to another point of view, and especially at this point in the movie only implies this is his fantasy again. He creates Batman, right there, to fight the insanity in his brain, a counter-part to his cracking personality, but in reality, Bruce Wayne never becomes Batman. Probably his parents never even die.

It’s all a figment of Arthur Fleck’s imagination, and so are all the following insane characters, whether it’s the Penguin or Riddler or Catwoman. He fantasizes about this whole universe, but in reality, he’s just a nutcase who’s stuck in an asylum for the rest of his life.

Not only that, the film seems to be making a gesture towards the rest of the equally-insane superhero movies out there. I mean, look at us. We used to watch western movies, or science fiction movies, or gangster movies… But suddenly, we’re just watching, and taking very seriously, caped guys running around with fucking huge hammers, flying faster than light, snapping fingers to kill half of humanity. It’s fucking insane what we nowadays take as a regular cinema. It’s all just a weird brew spewing from some insane person’s head. And this is what Joker the movie is telling us.

 

Scifi

Six Scifi Potholes


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Space, the final frontier. Every year, mankind gathers together in small, darkened rooms around the world, staring at the abyss, fantasizing what might there be – or not to be. That is the ultimate question. Is there intelligent life out there, or not. These darkened rooms serve as projection chambers to realize our wildest dreams, to answer our worst fears. This year, the projection they are showing is Ad Astra, a film about Brad Pitt in space, in search for his father, and ultimately, the answer to the question of whether there is intelligent life out there, ’cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth, as Monty Python sings.

Making a science fiction film is a hard job. I can tell you because I’ve made a bunch of them. There’s a selection of very common mistakes, problems and challenges each scifi filmmaker faces, ones they end up solving in many different ways. In this post I’ve listed the six most common challenges scifi stories encounter, and how they are being solved – or then, not. I’m going to be viewing them through the lense of my top-10 scifi movies, which are, in no particular order, Children of Men (2006), Alien (1979), Interstellar (2014), Solaris (1972), Moon (2009), Twelve Monkeys (1995), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Star Wars (1977), E.T. (1982)  and Blade Runner (1982).

Oh, and obviously, spoilers ahead!

1. PLOT RULES OVER CHARACTERS

Scifi is a sandbox of concepts, not of characters. Ever since sci-fi writers have started publishing the science fiction novels, they’ve started with an interesting setting, concept, theory or scientific improbability, which they’ve then started to solve, introduce further or write about. The characters, nearly always, come second. When facing the most complicated sci-fi setting we need the main character who, more often than not, is just a plain observer, someone who goes through the events and witnesses them – and eventually, solves them not through personality, but brawn, wits and the deeply imprinted need to save humanity.

This means that the characters area easily forgettable. In Interstellar, Solaris, Moon or 2001, the characters are nearly interchangeable; none of them are in any way characteristic, we can barely remember their names – what happens in the movie is more important than to who it happens.

But there are great examples of well-written and memorable characters. While the main character in Children of Men may not be remembered by his name, the devotion he shows to the mission to save humankind and leave everything else is so vigorous it becomes a characteristic trait. Who could forget Ripley from Alien or Luke from Star Wars, and when the movie’s name is the main character – Deckard from Blade Runner, or the extra-terrestrial creature from E.T. – without them, the films would have been completely different.

Each sci-fi film walks on a tightrope when trying to figure which is more important, the characters or the setting. The best ones manage to find a neat balance between these two worlds and deliver an amazing science fiction setting, added with characters we cherish for a long time. But still, I’m yet to see a scifi film which is built around such an interesting main character than it overshadows the scifi setting totally.

2. UNSOLVABLE CONUNDRUMS

One of the most typical pitfalls of a scifi film is when the writers end up writing their characters in such an impossible-to-solve conundrum that the only way to get their asses out of the situation is to stretch the laws of film physics, the agreement between the viewer and the filmmaker on what’s possible in this world and what’s not, the suspension of disbelief. These issues are usually solved either through going completely abstract, like Interstellar or Solaris, or just bringing a well-timed deus ex machina to play – like in Blade Runner. Usually, these solutions are the most divisive elements of the movie – I mean, who hasn’t had that conversation about Solaris or Interstellar, where one claims to have loved the movie, but didn’t “get” the ending. Still, when crafted masterfully, like in these two movies, it can be artistically fulfilling, even though it may not be the strongest written plot ever seen.

When the writers brute force their characters out of the unsolvable conundrums, it usually becomes slightly awkward. Ad Astra sends the main character flying through Neptunus rings using a thin metal plate as a shield to block the oncoming meteors, while hitting a bulls-eye some 40-50 kilometers away with his body. In Gravity, the main character skips from orbit to another like they were changing lanes on a freeway. These solutions break the suspension of disbelief -effect and the audience becomes aware of the brutal force the writer is using in forcing the otherwise solid script through a loophole that’s just too tight to fit.

Great scifi films have this taken in consideration already when setting up the plot. Either the solution is rather simple and understandable, like in Alien – just kick the creature out of the airlock and be done with it. There, the solution doesn’t feel too alienated, pun intended, or forced, but follows a logic the film has drawn from the beginning.

The question is not how improbable the solution is, but does it fit into the general agreement the audience and the filmmaker have created. Either we follow physics down to the smallest decimal,  or we skip physics altogether.  Whatever it is, everything needs to circle  around that decision or the audience feels betrayed.

3. THE SCALE IS OFF … BY SEVERAL BILLION UNITS

“Space… is huge, Margaret. Where do you recommend we go? Second star to the left and then straight on ’till the sunset?“, Udo Kier says in Iron Sky The Coming Race. I know, quoting my own film is kinda lame, but since we are talking about scale, it fits here. One thing the science fiction filmmakers tend to drop pretty quick is the sense of scale. We forget that everything in space is so far apart from each other than it takes several lifetimes to connect the dots. We humans are so infinitestimally tiny creatures in this infinite universe that writing stories that center around us and the limits of our feeble minds and the sacks of mostly water we call our bodies usually becomes the biggest challenge.

Distance between objects has been easily the biggest problem each writer needs to tackle at first. Einstein, the great party-pooper of science fiction, says we can’t travel faster than light and that’s a fact. Interstellar shows us wormholes which bend space and time; Star Wars introduces hyperspace and Alien introduces stasis, or hypersleep (but also features faster-than-light travel, only doesn’t really talk about it).

Another thing are the forces in space. When colliding with an asteroid, whatever size of the object, it travels with such an immense speed it will tear through the hull and destroy everything. One of the few films that really take this in consideration is Aniara, a beautiful swedish poetic film which introduces a particle that hits a spaceship on its’ way to Mars, and sends it off course.

Aniara does other things right as well. It reminds us that when adrift in space, we will remain so, and the probability of us ever reaching any target is immeasurably small. Thus, after being set off course, the next time they reach another planet is six million years later, long after all human life has perished onboard the ship. And even that is, if I’m not wrong with my assumption, quite a stretch.

4. SCHRÖDINGER’S ALIENS

Is there anyone out there?

Yeah, there is. And no, there isn’t. Both are true, at least for now.

The thing is, we know absolutely nothing even about the possibilities of life, let alone intelligent one, existing in other planets or other celestial bodies. Ever since we started serious space exploration, we have found absolutely zero evidence that there are any other living creatures out there – save predictions and probability calculations, which indeed suggest there should be something else out there, but just as possibly, we are the wacky misstep of nature and remain so until we either kill ourselves or our Sun scorches us to smithereens.

Still, in science fiction we usually predict the aliens being quite similar creatures than us, sharing similar feelings, physical features and even translatable language. We assume they have somehow heightened versions of us – either more hostile, or more intelligent, or more technologically advanced. We interpret them as creatures that have similar goals, wishes, and needs as humans.

In reality, if we were ever to meet an alien race, we would need to spend decades in just understanding what it might want or need. Their whole conceptual world would most likely be totally different from us, they might see the world using totally different senses than us – hell, we might not even know they are aliens, actual sentient beings, if we ever were to meet them.

Again, there are few approaches to aliens in science fiction: films like Alien introduce them as purely evil, hostile creatures we can’t negotiate with – or E.T., where the alien is friendly. Interstellar and Solaris, again, take a more abstract approach, where the aliens communicate with us on a whole different conceptual level.

One of the few interesting representations of aliens in recent years was Arrival, which focused mostly around just trying to find a similar conceptual drawing board to understand even the basic concepts of the aliens. It was a linguistic science fiction film, where the biggest challenge was not what the creature wanted, but how to communicate with it. Much earlier, this issue was presented in Solaris, even more strongly in Stanislaw Lem‘s original novel, where most of the film was mostly about trying to find a way to communicate with the creature – the Solaris planet – or even more so, to try to figure out if the creature even tries to communicate. If it actually was sentient at all.

Solaris’ approach to aliens is the most believable. While we can’t know until we know, after which everything will change, I’m putting my money on the fact that whatever we might encounter out there will be so different than us that we don’t even know if it is sentient.

5. WE ARE THE ROBOTS

While much of science fiction takes place in space, the more grounded stories happen on Earth, where the science fiction element is a human-made, sentient creature, a robot. These films usually fall into two categories: either the robot evolves out of control and tries to overtake mankind or the robot tries longs to be human. Rarely we see stories of robots actually doing what robots are supposed to do, which is, to assist humans. Artificial intelligence is seen as a threat that can any second go rampant and erase humans, where, in reality such outcome would be highly improbable. Mostly, we are talking of our own fears when we speak of artificial intelligencies becoming a threat to mankind: we see what humans do to this planet, we see the only solution being the one where we get rid of this pest, the humans. In many ways, films, where robots overtake mankind, are environmental statements. They may not be built as one, but the ultimate claim is: if an intelligence far more logical than us was to view our behavior on this planet, they would want to get rid of us because we are not worth saving.

6. TIME OUT OF JOINT

Time is a harsh mistress. The issue with it is that it’s all bullshit, there is no such thing as time – not in the sense we like to think of it. We think of it as history, things that have happened, and future, things that might happen. So often we say: “next week I will do this” or “last week I did that” and consider them being elements on the same line, a railroad that one can travel back and forth, when in fact, neither next week or last week exists anywhere. They are mere memories and speculation.

Thus, in order to write a typical time travel story – think of Twelve Monkeys or Terminator – the writer needs to take the main scifi topic of their movie – time – and completely break the whole concept of time and introduce a completely new universe where there *is* a railroad called time, and then place us travel along it.

Somehow, though, and much of that has to do with the fact that our brains are capable of storing vivid memories and speculating the results of our actions before we actually do them, this is one of the most easily acceptable concepts of science fiction, one that people rarely challenge. Still, it’s bullshit.

Time exists, but it works in completely different terms than the time travel concept usually suggests. Interstellar was one of the few films that actually try to tackle time in film format.

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Ihmisperseyden lyhyt oppimäärä


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Olen saanut työskennellä urallani monien upeiden ihmisten kanssa. Joukkoon mahtuu kuitenkin aina myös liuta ihmisperseitä, jollaisten kanssa työskentely musertaa uskon koko elokuva-alaan, mutta ongelma on toki olemassa myös muilla taide- ja kulttuurialoilla. Kiinnostava artikkeli muotialalta – tai siis, muotialalle tähtäävistä opinnoista – julkaistiin juuri Long Play -palvelussa, otsikolla “Muodin huipulla”, jossa käsitellään melko kattavasti Aalto-yliopiston professorin käytöstä oppilaitaan kohtaan – kuten myös oppilaitoksen suhtautumista valituksiin.

Leffapuolella vastaavanlaista pokkurointia ja kiukuttelua saa kokea monilta eri tahoilta. Näyttelijät ovat yleensä ammattilaisia ja ammattimaisia, mutta äänekkäitä poikkeuksiakin on. Ohjaajalle asti ongelmat kantautuvat usein vasta myöhemmin, mutta meikki- ja pukuosasto tuntuvat olevan hyvin usein tulilinjalla kun näyttelijällä on paha päivä, itsetunto mudassa tai repliikit hukassa. Iron Sky The Coming Racea tehtäessä erään näyttelijän kohdalla ongelmat kärjistyivät melkoisesti. Olimme keskellä kuvauksia kun näyttelijä saapui, tapansa mukaan, naama happamana maskista harjoituksiin. Harjoitukset vedettiin kireissä tunnelmissa ja näyttelijän poistuttua maskeeraaja tuli itkuisena kertomaan saamastaan huonosta kohtelusta. Ilmeisesti kyseinen näyttelijä oli jo pitkään purkanut omaa pahaa oloaan maskissa ja käyttäytynyt karmealla tavalla ammattiaan harjoittavia maskeeraajia kohtaan – ja useammin kuin kerran hänen lähdettyään tekijät olivat purskahtaneet itkuun.

Minulla napsahti sillä olin osaltani katsellut näyttelijän diivailua ja jatkuvaa huomion kerjäystä jo pitkään mutta ohjaajana ottanut sen vastaan osana ammattia. Näyttelijät harvemmin käyttäytyvät ohjaajalle suoraan erityisen paskamaisesti mutta jo jatkuva huomion kinuaminen, suoranainen lepertely ja muu outoilu ovat merkkejä siitä, että kulisseissa asiat ovat todennäköisesti huomattavasti pahemmalla tolalla. Puhuin näyttelijälle suoraan maskiosaston terveisistä ja kuten tyypillistä, näyttelijä kielsi kaiken ja suorastaan kertoi tunnelman olevan jatkuvasti ihana kaikkien välillä. Tämä jo itsessään kertoo usein siitä kuinka syvälle omaan perseeseensä henkilö on päänsä työntänyt. Otin sittemmin asian tuottajien kanssa puheeksi ja teimme toimintasuunnitelman asian korjaamiseksi. Näyttelijän vaihto oli tässä vakavasti harkinnassa sillä kuvauksia oli mennyt vain pari päivää hänen osaltaan.

Ongelma kuitenkin ratkesi ennen sen suurempia muutoksia, muiden näyttelijöiden toimesta. Nämä olivat katselleet sivusta mainitun näyttelijän diivailua ja lopulta kaksi näyttelijöistä, erittäin kokenut pitkän linjan näyttelijä ja ensimmäistä rooliaan tekevä näyttelijä, kumpikin avautuivat illallisella suoraan huonosti käyttäytyvälle näyttelijälle. He kertoivat totuuden melko konstailematta: “kukaan ei pidä sinusta – maskeeraushuoneessa sinua vihataan, kuljettajat vihaavat sinua, puvustuksessa sinua vihataan – kaikki johtuu siitä, miten käyttäydyt ihmisiä kohtaan”. Näyttelijä oli aluksi kauhuissaan ja kielsi kaiken, mutta lopulta totuus alkoi imeytyä.

Tarinalla oli onnellinen loppu: seuraavana päivänä mainittu näyttelijä oli täysin muuttunut henkilö. Kuvaukset sujuivat hänen osaltaan upeasti loppuun – ei pelkästään työyhteisöllisesti vaan sain myös parhaat näyttelijäsuoritukset hänestä irti. Tuntui, kuin asennemuutos olisi myös höllännyt näyttelijän itsetietoisuutta ja vapauttanut jotain hänen sisällään. Kaikkiaan tulkintani oli, että kyse ei ole sisäsyntyisesti paskamaisesta tyypistä, mutta ison tuotannon roolin paineet olivat hänestä sellaista muovaamassa.

Kurjempiakin lopputuloksia koettiin. Erään HoD:in (Head of Department – elokuvatuotannoissa tuotannon osa-aluetta johtava taiteellinen päävastuullinen, näitä ovat esim. kuvausosasto, maskeerausosasto, puvustusosasto, lavastusosasto, jne.) kohdalla asiat olivat olleet jo pitkään huonolla tolalla. Tuottajat olivat puuttuneet osaston työoloihin mutta mikään ei ottanut vaikuttaaksen. Mainittu HoD oli polttanut osastonsa rahat kaikenlaiseen uskomattoman turhaan pitkään ennen kuvausten alkua ja tämän tajuttuaan rähjännyt viikkotolkulla alaisilleen, pakottaen heidät vääntämään mahdottomia työsuoritteita puutteellisilla tai olemattomilla resursseilla. Lopulta tilanne kärjistyi siihen, että osaston työntekijät, erään kuvauspäivän aamuna, kävelivät linjatuottajan puheille ja ilmoittivat että joko he lähtevät tai HoD lähtee.

Kesken kuvausten vaihtoehtoja ei juuri ollut ja tuottajat tekivät oikean päätöksen – HoD joutui jättämään työpaikkansa jo saman aamupäivän aikana ja poistumaan tarkkaan vartioituna (ettei veisi mukanaan mitään tuotannolle kuuluvaa). Lopputuloksena oli erinäistä kränää ja kädenvääntöä. Itse sain ko. henkilöltä muutaman yhteydenoton myöhemmin jossa hän halusi tarjota “oman näkökantansa” tapahtuneeseen, mutta tuskin siitä olisi hullua hurskaammaksi tullut. Raivo- ja itkukohtaukset, työntekijöiden nimittely ja henkinen pahoinpitely – ja budjetin melko karkea väärinkäyttö – eivät kuulu työympäristöön jossa haluan tehdä omaa työtäni.

Palatakseni alkuperäiseen artikkeliin, jossa Aallon professoriksi nimitetty muotisuunnittelija käyttäytyy kaksivuotiaan pikkulapsen tavoin, hämmästyttävää ei kuitenkaan ole se, että joku itsestään tärkeästi ajatteleva reppana käyttäytyy huonosti vaan opiston päävastuullisen vähättelevä suhtautuminen tähän. Valituksia on jutun mukaan riittänyt oppilailta jo pitkään, työtä on tehty yötä myöten omalla budjetilla itku kurkussa, stressitasot ovat katossa ja oppilaiden masennus syvää. Kun toimittaja ottaa asian esille, ensin ollaan hämmästyneitä, sitten lyödään luuri korvaan ja kysymyksiin kieltäydytään vastaamasta tai kommentoimasta mitään. Ja huom! Kyse ei ole edes mistään lyhyestä tuotannosta joka alkaa ja loppuu aikanaan vaan jatkuvasti vallalla olevasta tilasta Suomen arvostetuimmassa muotialan oppilaitoksessa.

On toki selvää että taitavista ja luovista tekijöistä ei haluta päästä eroon. Elokuvissa näyttelijät muovaavat roolin usein niin lähtemättömästi että vaihtaminen on mahdotonta ja tämä näkyy siinä, miten paljon sontaa vastaanotetaan. Ohjaajien asema on myös usein liki vaihtamaton, mutta onneksi viime aikoina ollaan alettu näkemään enemmän tapauksia joissa huonosti käyttäytyvä saa kenkää, oli kyse millaisesta starasta hyvänsä. Bohemian Rhapsodyn ohjaaja Bryan Singer sai fudut, tosin vain paria viikkoa ennen kuvausten loppua, mutta kenkää tuli joka tapauksessa. On myös hyvä nähdä että huono käytös itsessään riittää syyksi irtisanomiseen – aikaisemmin vaadittiin vähintään raiskaussyytöksiä. Kaikenlainen pahoinpitely työ- ja opiskeluyhteisössä on oltava tuomittavaa ja siihen on kyettävä reagoimaan pian, aggressiivisesti ja periksiantamattomasti.

Koulukiusauksen ongelmat lähtevät usein opettajien välinpitämättömyydestä. Olenkin seurannut oman 14-vuotiaan koulunkäyntiä ja useaan otteeseen ollut yhteydessä poikani ala-asteeseen kiusaamistapausten vuoksi. Näihin suhtauduttiin kuitenkin vähätellen vaikka poika oli tullut kotiin useaan otteeseen itkien. Onneksi asiat muuttuivat koulun vaihduttua yläasteeseen, jossa poikani kertoo olevan nollatoleranssi kiusaamisen suhteen. Se toki tiedetään, että koulukiusaaminen ei suinkaan rajoitu koulun pihoihin ja etenkin somessa kiusaaminen on noussut otsikoihinkin viime aikoina, mutta ainakaan oman lapseni kohdalla tämä ei käsittääkseni ole ongelma.

Itse olin kouluvuosinani erikoistapaus joka sain osaltani kiusausta osakseni koulun pihalla. Opettajanamme oli muuan nykyään kirkon parissa vaikuttava mies, joka saikin lopulta (huhujen mukaan) oppilaan pahoinpitelystä johtuen kenkää koulusta. Omina kouluvuosinani tämä opettaja kannusti luokan pahimpia rehvastelijoita heidän häiriökäyttäytymisessään, lähenteli kuvottavalla tavalla luokan tyttöjä ja meitä “erikoisia” pilkkasi julkisesti, puhetavan matkimisesta virheiden erotteluun ja muuhun piristävään. Opettajasta tehtiin valituksia rehtorille kymmeniä, mutta rehtori ei näihin uskonut, vanhempainillat olivat yhtä sotaa koulun puolustaessa mainittua, narsistista raivoalkoholisti-opettajaa, mutta mitään ei asian eteen tehty ennen kuin oli täysin pakko.

Vähän vastaavia kaikuja soi Aalto-yliopiston tapauksessa. Johtavilta virkahenkilöiltä toivoisinkin etenkin opintopuolella tiukempaa puuttumista tapauksiin. Emme halua työelämään valmistuvien raahustavan välittömästi työkyvyttömyyseläkkeelle kun pelkkä opiskelu on ollut yhtä helvettiä. Taiteellisesti lahjakkailla on oikeus huonoon käytökseen, mutta tehköön sitä omassa studiossaan omalle peilikuvalleen. Yhdenkään työntekijän tai oppilaan ei pidä joutua sellaista kokemaan.

Opinions

Hungry Game Industry


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

My son messed up the other day.

He logged on to our Playstation, opened a game and deliberately went into the store section of the game, and bought something called 600 R6 Credits for a game called Rainbow Six Siege. By doing that, he used credit on my PS4 account, which he was not allowed to do, and thought he could get away with it.

Well, of course, I get an email notification whenever somebody uses my credit, and he was caught, red-handed. I got really pissed off, not because of what he had bought – it really cost only 5€ – but it’s more about the trust, and so forth and so forth – you know the drill. He promised not to do it again, I took away his gaming rights for two weeks and he’ll have to get the money back, and now that’s settled.

He’s a good kid, I’m actually pretty convinced he’ll never do that again.

And in the end, it’s my mistake. The game is rated for 18 years old plus, and my son should have no business playing the thing in the first place. I’m a too lenient father, I know that.

But that does bring me to the wider issue of games these days. The truth is, games these days, they are all just big fucking ruses, meticulously created to fool kids way too young to understand anything about money into spending hundreds of euros to absolute nothing: skins, game credit, special guns, in-game clothes and all that. Every game has some kind of a sneaky scheme going on and parents are either too uninterested or technically debile to really be able to look after where the kid actually uses money, why and what he/she gets out of it.

Back when I was young, I used what little money I had to toy soldiers, action figures and later on, to RPG books and figures and so forth. Stuff I was able to bring home, which my parents saw, they might have disagreed with (my dad’s a notorious pacifist so he wasn’t too crazy about the soldiers, and banned all toy guns in the house) but at least they were pretty much aware of what I was buying. But with the games, the parents have absolutely no grasp of how the kids use their money. All they do is buy prepaid PS4 cards to their kids, completely harmless-looking plastic things, but they have no idea, or even control on how the actual credit is spent – and how much of it! It might be that in addition for purchasing a videogame of 70€, your kid sends additional 250€ of your money to the company, and absolutely nothing of any real value has been gained.

One way to look at it, of course, is that instead of spending money on plastic that ends up into a dumpster sooner than later, none of that is created, and that’s a big, good, green thing, which I support wholeheartedly. But the issue is more in consumer culture. The earlier our kids are hooked to the reckless consuming online, where assets exchange ownership and value is gained only by the ones who run the big picture, the deeper in capitalist hell we all end up.

Instead, we need to start teaching kids consuming in schools. I’m not saying we are any better ourselves at consuming, but we come from the world where we experienced at least a bit of the transition from physical to digital, but the next generation, our kids, will spend more and more time shopping online, putting value on entirely digital elements, elements which worth is harder and harder to determine, which leaves a huge, gaping opening for cons, schemes and consumer control by outside entities. Our whole culture is completely hooked up to consuming and it’s gotten badly out of hands and the ever-hungry money-munching machine wants our kids’ souls as soon as they can type in their login-ID.

Having said all that, there’s really nothing wrong with the game industry making money with their products; as an independent filmmaker, I only wish our industry had some of that business thinking at our disposal. The problem is, games are by definition made to hook you on to them: one more round, one more mission… you know how it goes. Your brain feeds on the dopamine bursts the micro successes result in, which in turn creates an ideal environment for very invasive and near-addiction-based business models.

Casinos and gas stations with slot machines come with very strict regulations, one being, you need to be at least 18 to play them. I don’t see why the same approach wouldn’t apply with video games? Why not make it illegal to put in-game purchase mechanisms for games that are available for kids under 18, how about that?

 

Festival Circuit, Iron Sky The Coming Race Director's Diary

Finishing The Tour – my job with Iron Sky The Coming Race is (just about) done.


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What began seven years ago with nothing but a crazy pitch and few written words on the paper, is officially now done. My third feature film Iron Sky The Coming Race has been released in many main territories, and while there are still many places left for the film to come out, my job is more or less done with it. I mean, yeah, if there’s a premiere or a festival screening somewhere, I’ll go, but the main chunk of the work – the preproduction, production, postproduction, and PR related to the release is mostly done.

Phew.

The film itself will live on for many years to come, mind you. After the initial release, comes the DVD and BluRay release followed by TV and streaming services and – who knows – maybe one day even a Director’s Cut version.

But much of that is in other people’s hands. My contribution has been given.

I guess now it’s time to move on. Finish The Ark, of course, and write. I have a good heap of scripts in different stages I want to finish, one of them being, obviously, the last installment in the Iron Sky saga, but also a big pile of other stuff I want to get started or jump on board with.

I just came back from the latest festival where Iron Sky The Coming Race was screened, the amazing Grossmann Wine And Film Festival in Ljutomer, Slovenia. There, in a crowded main square, we played our film in an open-air cinema and enjoyed a great reception, preceding the cinematic release in Slovenia. I haven’t really counted how many countries the film has been released or will be released, but it’s pretty much traveling all over the world.

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Grossmann audience watching the end of Iron Sky The Coming Race

Great.

So, what next?

I really want to continue down the science fiction rabbit hole, further and deeper. There are few scripts I still dream to be able to make one day, Jeremiah Harm and I Killed Adolf Hitler, but those are out of my hands. Maybe one day I’ll come back to them if an opportunity rises but the big part of filmmaking – searching for the right project – is ongoing.

I don’t trust in films falling into my lap from the skies, although I’ve seen that happen – basically, that’s how The Ark got started – but I don’t want to cling on to the first weak script that’s thrown my way, because knowing it might be that in another 7 years I’m writing this again, having finished a movie – and if it’s one I’m not happy with, I’ve just wasted a lot of my life for basically nothing. I’ve been lucky so far, having had a chance to work with films I can believe in and be proud of, and I intend not to change that.

Films – or TV. That’s another thing I’m interested in. I’d loved to get onboard a TV show and see how a production like that works. I find myself spending about as much time watching TV shows (I mean, Netflix, HBO, you know…) as films these days, and both work well for me. (Not surprisingly, we are actually plotting the last part of the Iron Sky “Moon Nazi Trilogy” in the form of a TV show.)

But yeah, rest of the year I expect spending my time mostly either writing new stuff and post-producing The Ark. Less traveling, more creating, that is. A different gear in life, that is, on the eve of me turning forty.

Luckily, we just moved to a beautiful new home in Lauttasaari, where it’s a bliss to work, just by the beach in a nice, peaceful area, so the need to get out of the house is also a bit less pressing.

Anyway, I’ll keep y’all updated on what’s going on next. Whatever it is, won’t be boring.

Festival Circuit, Iron Sky The Coming Race Director's Diary

Premiering Iron Sky The Coming Race Around The World


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I’ve been crisscrossing the Planet Earth now for the most part of the year from a premiere here to a festival screening there, all to promote my latest movie Iron Sky The Coming Race, which we spent uh, quite a while to make. While sitting in small airplanes is not what I prefer to do with my life, getting there and screening the film to tens, hundreds, even thousands of fans, friends, freaks and followers makes it definitely worth it. The latest of such trips was the one  I’m returning now from to Japan, where we had tons of interviews and a great screening with nearly two hundred fans, signing session and what not,  in the promotion to the upcoming Japan premiere.

timotokio1

It’s interesting to see how the film has been received all over the world. Just like the first one, Iron Sky The Coming Race is definitely splitting the opinions of both critics and filmgoers – some find it lovely, to quote one of the recent tweets I came across:

 

“Things of great surprise: aside from being a tangled spaghetti monster of ludicrous plot points, the sequel to Iron Sky is highly entertaining. Hollow earth, many weird cultural references, and a kick-ass mixed race female protagonist who is here for absolutely none of your shit.”

While others feel differently:

Iron Sky 2 is a truly dreadful movie, but there are circumstances in which it might be appropriate to watch it: Hackney, London.

Goes without saying, nasty critics can hurt, those who “get it” bring me right back up and that’s just pure awesome. And then there are premieres like the one in Japan, which give a whole new meaning to what I love about making these movies. This article, for example, writes very nicely:

“Iron Sky: The Third Empire Strikes Back” A masterpiece fantasy full of science fiction love.

First, we had arranged two full days of interviews – without lying at all, I probably did 30 half-hour interviews in the first two days after arriving in Japan, answering the most creative set of questions from the journalists. Seems like the whole idea of a tech cult like we have in our movie – the Jobsism – really was received well, and they were also curious on how we ended up choosing the historical figures the film proposes. There were magazines that were purely focused on crazy conspiracy theories, and I got to talk to the interviewers about deep end Hollow Earth theories, noticing they had indeed found nearly all of the little tidbits I had managed to hide there for the craziest of us to spot. There were gun magazines, where we spoke about the weapons used in the movie, and of course, film magazines who wanted to know everything about the references, my background in Japanese movies (which I have followed surprisingly much). Also, Obi as a strong leading character was appraised by Japanese media, as well as Udo Kier in his double-role.

The premiere itself was a great success. The reactions were great throughout the movie, and afterward, we had hundreds of fans gathering around, lining up like good Japanese do, for autographs, handing me gifts and taking selfies. The enthusiasm was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but walking around Tokyo and taking in the entertainment culture there, it does make sense – there is a level of enthusiasm towards music and movies unlike anything we have in Europe – or maybe we’ve had it once, but now, everything is very jaded and cynical. This is, I must admit, a bit depressing atmosphere to make movies, and I do wish there was a way to inject some joy into entertainment culture in Europe.

Not to say I’ve had bad premieres, in Europe – quite the contrary! Our Finnish premiere was a blast, the German premiere was amazing, UK and Switzerland, Brussels and Copenhagen and all those places were just pure fun to screen the film at. There’s still quite a lot of places where the film will open in the coming months – I’m now flying to Prague for Checz premiere, then there’s Slovenian premiere, some festival premieres and of course, the US release that’s coming in July.

But importantly, I guess what I’m trying to say here is: filmmakers, go and screen your film to the audience. Even if it’s for one day, it’s worth taking the time off the calendar and go out there, meet the people and get in the vibes. That’s the most direct, most enthusiastic feedback you will get. It keeps you going, no matter how complicated the film business might sometimes seem.

 

Anyways, arigato to our Japanese fans and our distributor Twin for the amazing premiere event and great marketing push, the film is coming out in July in Japan, crossing fingers for a great kickoff there!

 

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Ikätesti – Instagram-mainontaa Alkolle


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Harvoin sitä pääsee työskentelemään lempiaiheensa parissa niin konkreettisesti kuin viimeisimmässä mainostuotannossa jonka tein TBWA-mainostoimiston kanssa yhteistyössä Alkolle. Kyseessä on pieni mutta hauska kampanja, jossa haastateltiin Alkon asiakkaita (tokikin castattuja näyttelijöitä) katugallup-hengessä ja haastettiin heidät todistamaan olevansa täysi-ikäisiä. Kampanjan ajatuksena on muistuttaa ihmisiä Alkon pelisäännöistä, joiden mukaan kaikkien alle 30-vuotiailta vaikuttavien – ja vanhempienkin – on pyydettäessä kyettävä todistamaan ikänsä Alkon kassalla.

Ohjasin kampanjan videosisällöt, jotka pyörivät nyt Instassa ja YouTubessa seuraavien viikkojen ajan. Tässä kampanjan päävideo:

Niin, todellakin. Instagram on nykyään kiilaamassa tietyn ikäsegmentin kohdalla kovaa kyytiä ohi Facebookista ja YouTubesta nettimainonnassa ja sen interaktioprosentti on hurja – 2,2% – siinä, missä esim. Facebookissa sama luku on 0,22%. Alle 25-vuotiaiden segmentissä palvelua käytetään yli puoli tuntia päivässä ja sisältömäärä nousee 80% vuodessa.

Eipä siis ihme että mainosohjaajienkin kohdalla kenttä muuttuu ja yhä useampi sisällöistä päätyy pääkanavanaan Instagramiin. Tämä tietenkin vaikuttaa myös ihan konkreettisesti sisällön suunnitteluun: viesti pitää saada paukautettua pihalle kymmenen sekunnin hyvin tiiviissä aikaikkunassa ja formaatti on 16:9 -kuvan sijaan 9:16 (Instagram Stories) tai 1:1 (peruspostaus) – mikä pitää huomioida tietenkin kuvaustilanteessa.

Usein toki sisällöt päätyvät moneen eri alustaan ja YouTube on yksi vahva kärki, eli sama sisältö siis pitää suunnitella toimimaan sekä 16:9, 1:1 että 9:16 -formaateissa. Katugallupia tehtäessä haaste ei ole niin suuri mutta annas olla kun lähdetään suunnittelemaan jotain kuvallisesti haastavampaa sisältöä. Siinä on yksi jos toinenkin Kannelmäen Kaminski äkkiä sormi suussa kun jokaisessa tarjolla olevassa formaatissa on jotain kuvassa pielessä.

Mutta kehitys kehittyy ja tähänkin löytynee tulevaisuudessa työkalut niin kamerasoftista kuin jälkituotantotyökaluista. Joka tapauksessa, kuvattuani jättimäisen The Ark -tuotannon, oli hauskaa hypätä tekemään nopeaa ja ketterää katugallup-formaattia jossa työskenneltiin aitouden ja välittömyyden ehdoilla.

Ja kuten jokaisesta tuotannosta, myös tästä jäi varmasti muutama työkalu pakkiin tulevia tuotantoja – isoja ja pieniä – suunniteltaessa.

Alkon kampanjan tiedote: https://www.alko.fi/alko-oy/uutishuone/ajankohtaista/vaikea-arvata-helppo-todistaa-alkossa-ikarajavalvonnan-kampanjaviikot

Alkon pelisäännöt: https://www.alko.fi/asiointi-ja-palvelut/asiointi-myymalassa/pelisaannot

Hesarin artikkeli aiheesta: https://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/art-2000006113639.html

China Diary

Day 226: Heading back home


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Ah well, wrapped this leg of the production in Beijing again, and now I’m homeward bound, flying 10 kilometers over Central Russia, just passing over the town of Kodinsk. Did you know that Kodinks was established in 1977 as a settlement servicing the construction of a hydroelectric power station, with population close to 15000? I didn’t. But it’s crazy. Flying over Russia, it’s just insane. The country is so big, full of so much unknown little towns, huge cities and endless forest stretching everywhere.

I’ve started to read a really interesting book, one called One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I grabbed it on my Kindle as a recommendation for a read to understand a bit about the life in the Soviet Union, and this one is about a day in the life of one person in the gulags somewhere in the middle of the huge mother Russia. Written in a deadpan style, it’s both hilarious and scary at the same time, and very damn educative.

I finished my job in Beijing few days earlier than anticipated, and didn’t really feel like sticking around as there was nothing, really nothing for me to do there anymore. On the last day we sat down with Chris and went through all the remaining shots, solving some of the biggest issues we still had with the visual effects, and then agreed that we would continue the work online over Cinesync sessions.

I don’t know yet when I’m going back to Beijing, to be honest, but if things progress the way I suspect they might, it could be late September, early October, but let’s see what the future holds. Nevertheless, despite the massive sleeping issues I had, it actually was a pretty good trip and worth doing. Now, my next adventures take me to Japan, where we will be promoting the release of Iron Sky The Coming Race, after which we’re moving with Annika and then, well, I don’t really know yet!

Anyway, this story continues when I come back to Beijing next time, whenever that is – until then, have a wonderful summer dear readers!