China Diary

Day 167: The Finland Shoot, part 1

Somebody was asking on the Internet what happened to the Finnish shooting days of Iron Sky: The Ark? Yeah, reading the blog I also realized I had not gone through that story, mainly because that took place in Finland and this diary I write only in China – but now it’s time to take few steps back to those days about a month ago, when we indeed finished the shoot of Iron Sky: The Ark in my dear home country.

The whole idea for the Finnish shoot was born originally in Tero’s head. We knew we would need to shoot a scene in a location titled “German Castle” in the script, but heading over to Germany to shoot for two days would’ve been cost-wise quite challenging, and besides, although we shoot a lot outside of Finland, we would like nothing more than to bring projects back home. It’s been very challenging due to lack of production incentive program in Finland, but since they established one finally now last year, we were able to figure out a way to make the Finnish shoot work.

We are not in China anymore.

The other important factor was the city of Turku, which has been very active in film field, getting productions to shoot in their beautiful city every now and then. Turku also has the great advantage of some of the most amazing locations in Finland: old, dazzlingly charismatic buildings, halls, churches and of course nice nature around. What we needed was a prestigious interior, and found one from Turku Academy’s Ballroom.

Detail at the Academy Ballroom

I had returned back from China one and a half weeks before, managed to relax a little bit, spend some time with Julius and get ready for the shoot. Week before the shoot, we did a little recce to Turku, where we had also the pre-production meeting.

The team was much smaller in Finland, but all of them were good professional people, and I had the impression that this machine, the Finnish production team, was really greased and ready to roll. We had a first AD from Finland who did the preparations, and would hand over everything to Lei as soon as he would arrive.

Pre-Production Meeting in Turku

The main reason to shoot outside of China was originally Max’s wish, because he wanted believable Western faces in the audience. I agree, having worked with a lot of foreign extras in China, that it’s very limited what you can get over here. Mostly Russians or Ukrainians, who look very East European, but of course finding old, rich Westerners looking extras in Finland would be much easier. So that was one of my main concerns, to pick good extras. We needed people who shimmer with the aura of wealth.

The space itself was beautiful as it is, so we didn’t really need to furnish it too much, just needed a bunch of tables (we did design a special table light, though) and chairs, but since we were to have a small action sequence taking place in the location, we did need to prepare few foldable tables with some breakaway glasses so our stunt team would be able to run their actions safely.

From China, we really didn’t bring anyone else but Chris our VFX supervisor and Lei, and Max wanted to come over too, although he really didn’t spend too much time on the set, just explored the city and fell in love with Turku and Finland. Rest of the crew was Finnish. After having worked half a year in Chinese and English, it was really a big relief to be able to go through all the preproduction meetings in Finnish. Speaking your own language is just so much easier and gets things done so much faster.



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