To be honest, I never really dreamt about becoming a filmmaker. Before finding myself from behind the camera, film was always something I loved, but never really thought about working in the business. If I remember correctly, my first film I really saw in the theatres was The Bear (L’ours) by Jean-Jacques Annaud, a heartfelt story about an orphan bear. I remember crying in the theatre – I was probably around 9 years old – being extremely moved by the story. But that really wasn’t a reason to go into movies.
First, there were the roleplaying games. I fell in love with the hobby full on, and it’s the single most important move I ever made, walking into a games store in Tampere, and purchasing my first roleplaying game – Middle-Earth Roleplaying Game. That was it, I was introduced to the world of storytelling.
But film came into picture years later. From roleplaying games, I evolved into a LARPer, a Live-Action RolePlayer, which included a little bit of acting in addition for just storytelling. I participated and even co-wrote a good selection of Live Action games, and a friend of mine introduced me to Samuli Torssonen, a guy who was working on a film called Star Wreck V: The Lost Contact in 1996. They needed an actor with long hair, and asked around from LARPers if there was somebody like that in Tampere.
When I showed up on the set, I realized how chaotic the production was. There was no proper director, whoever wasn’t in front of the camera was behind it, and the conditions we were shooting at were terrible. Watching the production unfold, I found myself assuming the position of “director” every now and then, mainly to get out of the set in time. But even so, my plan was never to really become a director. I just wanted to get home early.
Few years later, Samuli called me, surprisingly, and asked if I’d be interested directing the next Star Wreck. Mainly, because there was nobody else around willing to do it. Already at that time I had been doing some short films for my art class at school and playing around with camera here and there, so I decided to give it a try. But I wanted to do it properly. I wanted to do it bigger.
What started as a 20 minute short started to grow into a feature film, and I realized that in order to really helm a film, I need to know a little about directing. I went to a library and brought down a shelf full of books on filmmaking, and started to read. The idea of really going into a film school never even crossed my mind, I wasn’t much of a student. I believe in learning through doing.
The film – Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, was a seven years long process which we produced without a budget or a professional crew, mainly shooting at Samuli’s home, with me directing and acting, and Samuli producing, doing the VFX and playing the main part.