Back about a month ago we had the last two shooting days of Iron Sky: The Ark here in Finland, and here’s how they turned out.
The first shooting day at Academy Ballroom dawned snowy and dark in Turku. My hotel, Hamburger Börs, was located just a shortish walk away from the location, so instead of packing my ass into the car, I decided to walk by the river and enjoy the few peaceful moments all by myself.
Last night, we had had a nice dinner at one of the many fine establishments by the Aura-river. Lei and Chris from China had arrived already few days before and Stephanie Paul from the States, Malla Malmivaara from Helsinki and Rhydian Vaughan from Taiwan, as well as Malin Levanon from Sweden and James Quinn from Frankfurt – and of course, Tero Kaukomaa, whom I had also casted for a small role – all had made their way to Turku for the shoot.
Lost in thoughts, I arrived to the Academy Ballroom and recognized the first thing every film set has: trucks being unloaded, and loaded, and then unloaded again. I wiggled indoors between vehicles and arrived, again, to the hustle and bustle of a film set. Light crew running there, extras chatting here, camera crew over in that corner… But instead of being a weird giant to stare at, nobody bat an eyelid as I walked in. I was just another mid-thirties white guy with a hoodie… And I understood everything. This was a big thing for me; I didn’t feel like there’s me and my shit and then loads of random noise not meant for me around: instead, everything, every conversation, every detail was about the production, and I was able to follow them.
See, this is new to me. I’ve really never shot in Finland, at least not professionally and at least not a feature film. Mostly, I’ve been shooting in Germany or Belgium or China, where the native language is still gibberish to me. But strangely, being able to understand more what happened, it didn’t add to my stressload, actually removed a big chunk of it. I wasn’t a stranger in a strange land, I was in my home turf, and instantly I was able to kick back a little and take it a bit more easy.
Now I understand why people prefer shooting in their native countries.
The shoot itself? Well, it was smooth and fun. We had a great group of extras, our actors had fun time, the place was fabulous – and the crew, under Lei’s direction, was effective, professional and fast. We finished both days exactly on time, ran through six pages of script and four scenes including a small action piece, and it all turned out really fine. We shot altogether two for two days, then finished just in time for the wrap party.
The party was organized by Turku Film Commission who invited all of us to Villa Marjaniemi, a legendary old villa outside of Turku. I unloaded quite a lot of stress on that night, exchanging experiences with the actors, the crew and the whole production team. We had a sauna later that night, and although the river was frozen so we couldn’t swim, it was a perfect, perfect ending for a super rough shoot. All in all, 80 shooting days in two countries, spanning over six months of pre- and production time all ended on a high note.
Now all that would be left was to cut the film and create the VFX. And that’s what I’m doing back here in China, cutting and working with VFX.