China Diary

China Diary

Day 14: Wandering the Wanda City


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On the second day of the recce, the weather got much better. The sun was shining bright, turning our little rubber-wheeled muskrat trap into a Swedish sauna. This time, we drove a long way to the area where Wanda Pictures, one of the world’s biggest film companies, have their studios. We visited a newly finished shopping mall we could close down to shoot a scene in, and then went to visit the studios.

Located just across the street from the sea, the thirty two studio buildings line the Wanda Studios lot in a neat order, basking in the sun under the big “Wanda” text hoisted on the mountainside, to remind us that we indeed are in East Hollywood. Here, they’ve just shot such films as Kong and The Great Wall, and just finished the shoot for Pacific Rim 2, so we knew we would be in good hands. The quality of the studios is just amazing: stages of different sizes and heights, with high-end rigging solutions, water tanks and whatnots ensure best possible filming experience.

It was also nice to sneak in another scifi film’s (“The Wandering Earth”, based on Liu Cixin’s novels and produced by China Film Group with $50m budget) set and see all the great set pieces being constructed. The Chinese art department surely know their stuff.

On the way back, I started to feel suddenly really bad. My stomach was doing somersaults and I asked for a toilet break. Of course, we were just then at the busiest highway in the area, which was – of course – stuck because of an accident, and there was absolutely nowhere to stop. Searching for a toilet, our driver decided it’s probably the quickest to take the bridge back to the city – the longest overwater bridge in the world. I’ve rarely been in such pain when riding on this 25-kilometer-long bridge, praying for a McDonald’s or Burger King to appear from somewhere. And of course, they didn’t. I mean, usually they line every possible human-populated area densely, but when you actually need them, they’re nowhere to be found. So finally, when I found – after forty-five minutes of searching – a toilet, I decided it’s time for me to learn to go the Chinese way.

I’ll save you the details, but one thing I will say: every day you learn something new.

The evening ended again with a huge hot pot dinner. I had finished my work on the script earlier the day and got it sent out to the production and to the writer, so the production manager wanted to celebrate with me with a bottle of Jägermeister to go with the dinner. Many glasses were raised in appraisal of the crew and I even did a little dinner table speech, which I usually abhor, but since we had another early morning the next day, there was no time for too heavy partying.

At home, I had a nice two hour talk with Annika. Even as we’re far apart, it’s nice that she’s still the person I most prefer spending time with over anything, even if it’s just a Skype call. She was just finishing the Iron Sky making-of book, which is coming out around the same time as the film, in February next year. Annika has interviewed the crew, cast and even some fans for the book to tell first hand the (sometimes a horror-) story of how the film got made. I won’t spoil you for the fun, but I can say that it’s quite a strange, chilling story to read.

So congratulations, Annika, for finishing your first book! Now, I’m married to an author!

China Diary

Day 13: Surrealism


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Location recce is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you get. The idea of it is simply to drive around the city and find locations to shoot at, but the problem is that you’ll never find exactly perfect locations. That’s the reason even more simple setups end up being built on sound stages, in the controllable environment of the studio.

We knew that we want to shoot many scenes of Iron Sky: The Ark in the city, in real locations, to make the film feel more tangible. It’s also helping us to save some much-needed money from visual effects, to be used in sets that can’t be replicated, like on Moon.

So for this, we moved to Qingdao, to see what kind of locations they have to offer. The city itself reminds me more of Los Angeles, where as Beijing has more the New York feel to it. Located by the sea and pretty south in China, the weather can be warm and air is fresh, better than in Beijing for sure.

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On the first day of the recce, we started the tour by visiting an abandoned construction site somewhere a bit outside the center. It’s really interesting: if this kind of a site was somewhere in Europe or USA, it would be full of homeless people, graffitis and drug needles, but here – nothing. For whatever reason, the builders ran out of money and the construction site was left to rot there, but it was completely untouched. We started to envision some of the action scenes there with Mika and our action coordinator, and I started to fantasize shooting a quick post-apocalyptic zombie movie in the set as well.

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After that, we drove to the seaside, to a rocky beach near a fishing area. The scenery there is really surreal: tens of big, old, weathered fishing boats sit on the beach waiting for the high tide. Then, another fourty-five minutes in a car and we found ourselves in an amazingly beautiful beachside hotel, which also had a western-style toilet for me and Mika to enjoy. The long day ended at a half-finished multi-level intersection we could block and use for our car chase scenes.

The weather was terrible the whole first day. By the time I got back to the hotel just before midnight, I was completely drenched. Sitting in a car and wandering around the locations can be really tiring, so by the time my face hit the pillow, I was already out.

China Diary

12: A Change Of Scenery


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Leaving on a recce trip to Qingdao

I’ve now been in Beijing for two full weeks, but this morning we had to wake up and make our way to the train station, where the bullet train would take us on a five hour trip to Qingdao, a smaller (only about 13 million people) city on the southern coast for China, for four days of recceing. I mean, looking for shooting locations.

The first thing I realized stepping out of the train into the hammering rain was the salty smell of ocean in the air. The history of Qingdao dates back 6000 years, but recently the most interesting fact is that the city used to be occupied by the Germans until the break of the First World War, which can still be seen in the architecture and business of the city. The Germans brought also their beer brewing traditions to Qingdao, and the city is nowadays known as the Beer City of China, or as I call it, Belgium of East Asia.

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Colorcoded umbrellas are the source of fun and enjoyment.

The first day was cleverly dedicated merely to getting to know the local traditions: that is, drinking beer. We were taken for a dinner almost immediately after arriving to the hotel to a small, very local restaurant which served a table full of meat and seafood so delicious I suggested to Mika that maybe we actually died on the way here and ended up in heaven.

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Qingdao-style feast. Probably one of the best dinners I’ve had in my entire life!
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A bag of beer

And then came the revered, appraised beer. And there was a lot of it. There are two styles of local beers in the area, the other one is the typical Tsingtao beer, which itself is delicious, but the other one is something that’s only available in this area and only for a short perioid of time until it goes sour – seven days I believe they told me. What’s even more interesting, it’s served from plastic bags. And the taste is amazing: it’s full like Irish beers, creamy like Belgian beers yet fresh and tasty like I don’t even know what. And there’s a lot of it!

We were served enamel Mao Zedong –cups and the cups were refilled the second we emptied them – and we emptied them often! We discussed politics and film and gan bei’d away with the crew, having a wonderful time with Mika, and getting a nice buzz on.

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Having a beer under the watchful eye of The Chairman, with the location manager (on the left) and producer Max Wang.

Then, as it is very often typical in China, the dinner ended abruptly as everyone stood up. Max wanted to stay talking a bit longer with the Chinese crew, so me and Mika were to be transported back to the hotel. But of course, we also wanted to have few more drinks and suggested we could go to a local bar somewhere. This wasn’t such a good idea, we heard, since the westeners would be cleared of whatever little money they had on them, so instead, they thought they’ll give us some beer to be taken to the hotel.

By “some” beer, they meant a 40 liter keg. Two men brought the huge thing into my room as me and Mika were giggling like two schoolgirls. How the hell were we ever to finish it?

We did our best on the night that followed, but Mika being jetlaggy wasn’t much help, so I called Annika and we chatted for almost two hours while I did my best to chug as many mugs of beer as possible, but truth be told, when I finally decided to call it a night (after mandatory few songs of Manowar), the barrel had barely been touched.

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A barrel of beer in my hotel room.
China Diary

Day 11: The Finns! The Finns are here!


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I finally woke up around 2pm, after having a slept relatively good night, despite the fact that I really fell asleep not before 8am. That’s good six hours, and I know you think I’m being one boring blogger reporting in such detail my sleeping habits, but honestly I need to keep up how much I get sleep or I’ll end up breaking myself, and that won’t be any fun at all.

After fumbling around my apartment for a while, I skated to the office for some lunch – and I was happy to find out Mika Orasmaa, my director of photography, had arrived earlier in the day to Beijing. Suddenly, the whole production was in more concrete swing: we were not just rambling on about script, but talking about camera equipment, shooting schedules and locations – you know, concrete stuff, not abstract concepts.

And I had another Finn to talk to. It makes a big difference: no more am I the loner in the office, but can at least joke around with someone, no matter how much the rest go on in Chinese around me. After two weeks of being the one who sulks in the corner looking grumpy and having no access to the inside jokes of the production crew, I was now part of a completely new ecosystem of jokes and stories: the Finnish crew.

So of course, the first thing we did was we started trolling the office with a bag of Tyrsk Pebers, the Finnish salty licqourice black candy Mika had brought with from Finland. “Here, have a Finnish candy!” “Thanks!” And then the expression, which first goes from neutral to surprise, then disgust, then to disbelief. As Maxine put it, “everywhere in the world people try to make candies as sweet as possible, but you Finns are the only ones who actually make them as salty as possible.”

Mika was whisked away amidst the craziness of the production right away. The costume lady, whose name I for some reason keep on forgetting, is quite a personality. Actually, come to think of it, I’ve never met a costume person who wasn’t probably the weirdest personality of the film crew, save the cast maybe. Anyway, she was demanding Mika to explain in exact detail in what kind of a way a helmet breaks up, and in what angles will we show it, and that he provides a full concept artwork for a certain helmet breakup. Mika was trying to explain to her, showing a storyboard drawings by Anssi that it doesn’t matter, just make a hole in the helmet about the shape of this, but she went on and on demanding a detailed explanation. Luckily I wandered in the room to see what the commotion was about. She posed the question to me (through a translator) and I pointed at the same picture on the wall saying do it like this, just like Mika had been trying to tell for the last half an hour. Somehow director’s word is indisputable here, and that ended the discussion quickly.

We also finished our script discussions with Max in a much more peaceful environment now that all the hurdles had been solved and the general storyline was agreed on. There’s one change still which I just can’t accept, but I decided to push that discussion of that to a bit later date, otherwise we’ll never get to actually shoot the film.

Later in the evening, we had a welcome dinner for Mika at the local hot pot place. Hot pot has become my absolute favorite Chinese food, and the practicality of it just thrills me. They serve a pot of boiling water in front of each diner, and fill the table with different types of raw meat. Then, everyone just sinks the pieces of meat in the boiling water, preparing the food for themselves. It takes some twenty second for few slices of meat to boil, then you dip it into a bowl of  sauce and eat it. Absolutely delicious, and definitely illegal in Finland because of some EU regulation I’m sure (like “food in a restaurant is supposed to be prepared only by professionals, not by diners” or some crap like that).

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A hot pot serving

Joining us this time was also Tuomas Kantelinen, a friend and a musician I’ve had a chance to work with over several projects. He was in Beijing celebrating the release of a film he composed the soundtrack for, titled The Adventurers. It turns out Tuomas and Max had actually worked together, although they’d never met each other – Tuomas composed the music for Max’s first-produced movie Mongol, and oh boy the stories they started to share from the production. If I thought making Iron Sky –films had been complicated, the stuff they had to go through to get that film made, shot somewhere in Mongolia near Kazakhstan border with 14 countries collaborating one way or another, led by an inexperienced young Russian producer… Wow.

We finished the day off with Mika over few beers at the hotel beer talking about Finnish films. I got to see some clips from the upcoming Unknown Soldier –film and I can tell it looks really promising. For once, there’s a Finnish movie I hate to miss (although I’m sure it’s still in the theatres when I get back early next year, it’s going to be probably the most viewed Finnish movie in a decade or something like that).

China Diary

Day 10: Home Alone


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I woke up for the first time in the last ten days feeling rested. All my stats felt like at least +1 when I crawled out from between the bedsheets and felt my way through the darkened room to find my phone. Damn. It was 1:30pm. No surprise I felt good – I had slept seven and a half hours straight!

Then, the script issues crawled in and ruined my mood. There was still too many things unfinished for me to be able to relax, so I drag myself up and started writing.

Mostly, the day went past in a haze. Sometime in the afternoon I got a call from Lei informing Max had some pretty radical ideas to one of the key characters, and that would’ve ruined my whole day’s work had I started to implement it, but luckily he called in five minutes later to let me know not to worry about it. Crystal the PA (god bless her!) brought me a Volcano Burger (god bless ’em!) for lunch. But in addition to this, nothing really happened the whole damn day. I didn’t even visit the living room, just wrote like a madman and finally, around 9pm, finished the damn thing and emailed it out.

Phew. My mind was still racing from trying to keep the whole complex story in place, so I headed for the gym to unwind. Luckily, at the gym there’s also a decent sauna (decent in Finnish terms – they have a huge room and two tiny heaters that are supposed to heat the whole room…) so my day was pretty much perfectly rounded up with that.

Exhausted, back at the apartment I gave the VPN and Game of Thrones another try, but still no luck. Then, few hours of chatting with Annika, both of us contemplating the empty bed syndrome and its’ disastrous consequences, then dozing off.

So much for the glamorous life of a lauded, international film director…

 

China Diary

Day 9: On Fury Road


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“What hath night to do with sleep”, Milton asks.

Not much, at least not in my case. It’s been nine days and the jetlag hasn’t gotten any better. I wake up from dark slumber after few hours of sleep around 1-2 am, and manage to get few more hours of sleep after 9 am. Thus, I’m beginning to be more cranky and that’s not good for a person in my profession – nobody likes cranky directors. We don’t have the luxury of being cranky. The whole vibe of the production starts with us.

Also, as I’m writing this, I realize I’ve become a disgusting man. For once I’m happy my wife isn’t seeing me now. My clothes are all over my apartment. There’s Pringles cans in my bed, a box of some unpronounceable cookies next to it, empty water bottles in every corner of the room and moist towels line the doorframes. Today, I had a hamburger for combined breakfast and lunch and a box of Pringles for dinner. I’m deteriorating, regressing back to how I was when I was a student.

I’ll find a time to clean my act before she flies over, I promise. Also, because this feeling of “manly freedom” wears out very soon…

Later we had a meeting on visual effects and some story elements, but I had to cut the day short because I had a full script to be revised for the next day, and I really had no idea how to approach few of the more tricky problems. So back at home I wandered around the apartment for good two hours, playing a bit of Skyrim, a bit of Hearthstone, trying to get my VPN working so I could watch latest episode of Game of Thrones (didn’t happen, no surprises there…), until after enough of procrastination I attacked the script.

All went well for the first hours, then I hit the wall. Unmovable wall which I just couldn’t penetrate, climb over or ever dig a tunnel under. One of those “this-needs-to-happen-but-it-doesn’t-make-sense-why” -moments, which usually mean that you should ditch the whole bit and find a completely new approach, but that’s not really possible in this very specific case.

But usually at that point it’s better to just let it go and hit the sack for few hours since whatever you’ll force out of your brains and on the paper, you most likely will hate in the morning anyway.

 

 

China Diary

Day 8 – Notes, notes, notes…


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Another day, another VFX meeting; this time, with Pixomondo. With them, we’ve worked for years already, starting with Iron Sky The Coming Race, and my wish is that the work continues over Iron Sky: The Ark as well. Of course, VFX budget is in the hands of the producers, and while they will listen to my opinions, the decision will be made by others.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to catch up with Jan from Beijing’s Pixomondo. He’s a German, so English is the main language, which makes a huge difference for me when dealing with issues, not having to rely on translations for once. Everything is just much smoother, faster and gets to the bottom of the issues directly, and packet loss is much less.

Back at the office I heard there was still few changes coming in from Max, based on our last night’s conversations – so even though my suggested script changes were approved, there were notes.

There’s always notes. On script, on budget, on edit, on marketing… The whole business is based on notes. Sometimes, it’s tiring. But that’s the tradeoff: it’s worth taking in some notes, if in exchange you get the big stuff from your side pushed through.

See, everyone has always a different agenda on a film. Director of course wishes his or her’s vision to be clear. Writer wants the text to be followed in detail. Producer wants to make sure the audience gets it. In our case, producer is one of the writers as well, so there’s quite an intense pull into slightly different directions going on as we’re finishing off the script. But since yesterday’s successful pitching, I already know it’s going to end up being pretty good, so it’s easy to accept a few notes.

As long as you don’t get lost in them.

The  day went past with me doing research on things like Illuminati families, origin of life on Earth and few elements of Chinese mythology. We were supposed to meet an actress to audition for the leading role at 6pm, but Max wanted to see her first.

Three hours passed. We went peeking at his door to find out what’s going on. There he was, explaining the story in detail to the girl, who was staring eyes wide as he blasted away. It was quite a sight. We found a short pause in his presentation – which is rare – and slip in to introduce myself.

She’s an American-born Chinese – ABCs, they call them – who moved to China recently to become an actress on this side of the world. Asian actresses have very limited chances in American market, she said, and if nothing else, they get type casted very easily. Here, the selection of roles to play for her would be much wider. But being an American, she’s different from the Chinese actresses I had met. Many of them are very meek and subdued in their presence, but she had a touch of American arrogance and confidence in her, which works perfectly for the role.

No, we didn’t cast her (at least not yet), but she was the first candidate I felt pretty damn good about for this specific role.

I finished off the day with a hefty doze of script talk with Max, developing forward some deeper concepts of the film which probably don’t make their way to the screen but are needed to be understood to write everything properly – and finally made my way back home around 9pm.

Had I earned my rest? Maybe. Did I get it? No.

Annika writes a book about Iron Sky The Coming Race, and her deadline was just around the corner. There was one last interview left with me so just as I crashed on the bed I remembered I had promised to go through the whole production of Iron Sky The Coming Race from my perspective.

We did that, and it was good we did. It took me back to those days two years ago when we started to shoot the film in Belgium, through all the hardships, the fun times and the craziness of the production and offered a break from The Ark’s story, which sits on my brains like a fat man on a chair two sizes too small. Annika didn’t get to ask one question, I gave her a full Max-style monologue for one hour straight.

“Was it good?”

“Yeah, I think I got everything.”

“Good.”

I was done for. Few more games of Hearthstone and then passing out before midnight.

(Only to be woken by the most persistent jetlag I’ve had at 3:30 am…)

China Diary

Day 7 – Fonzie


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I woke up after only few hours of sleep and stumbled to the office feeling confused and unsure of what I had written last night. I had done a huge job, but I had no idea how people would respond to it. So as I came in my room, I found Lei sitting on the couch, reading it. The first thing he said was that they had actually sat down with Max until 2 am last morning, listening to his monologue on what to do with the script. The mood dropped instantly. Then, Maxine the 2nd AD gave me Max’s notes, and they were completely different from my own. I felt wretched.

But I’ve been there before. We had had some feedback from some people that the story was not clear enough. This leads naturally into the need to fix it, but when reading a feedback, you have to be like Fonzie.

What’s Fonzie like?

He’s cool. You gotta be cool.

First, identify the core of all the feedback.

Then, identify the source of feedback. You need to use it as a frame: if it’s an actor, they read different things. If it’s a screenwriter, they read other things (usually they hate other people’s writings anyway). If it’s the general audience, they understand only the end product. Usually, other producers are a pretty good source for feedback: they understand quite well the status of the film, but have no strings attached, so they can freely say their mind.

Third, remember what made you fall in love with the story. Make sure it’s still there, and build around it, because it’s the truest thing in there, the thing that’s the unique selling point that the actors, the producers and the heads of department will get from you. Everything else is disposable, but the one thing that you as a director think is important, needs to stay.

And then, respect the story. If you’re in it knee deep, you are there because you like the story. If you read a feedback from someone who didn’t, that’s not a reason to change the story – if it’s good, it’s good because you know how to realise it into a good end result. It’s only in your hand.

If I could’ve had a dollar every time I heard someone shitting on Iron Sky scripts over the years, I’d be filled with shit and few dollars in my pocket. But starting to lose your own faith in a story is the only, clear death blow to it. So, whatever you do, stick with the story, have a little faith. If it’s a good one, it can be solved. If it’s not, you probably aren’t this far working on it anyway.

So, I had a solution written down on paper which I knew was pretty damn good. Max had another approach, which wasn’t bad at all, but would’ve thrown one of my favorite characters to the sidelines and focused the story on another one. I knew that in order to convince him and the production team in general, I needed to put up a good show.

We went to Max’s office, and at first, I complimented his notes, but requested that he would hear me out on my point of view. He agreed, and I knew I had my moment right now to get him on my side, but I had to get him excited. Just reading the text written at 5am then quickly translated into Chinese would’ve been a suicide, so I decided to go through the whole script and act the film, scene by scene, in front of an audience. Lei was translating, Max was there, the writer, mr. Yu was there and Max’s assistant.

The good thing about having done so much presentations over the years is that my stage fright is gone. I have no problem making a fool out of myself in front of a big group of people.

So I let it all out.

Screaming, bouncing around the office, changing voices, acting out explosions, fight scenes and painting out the pictures in front of my audience I embarked on a five hour monologue on how I believed the story should go.

And bit by bit, I started to get there. First, it was a bit suspicious. “Hmm, aha, OK…” “Mm-hm…” – but then, there was the first laughter, the first “Yeah, that’s good”. And scene by scene my enthusiasm found its’ way into their hearts and the story unfolded, and in two hours mark, when Max had to run for the toilet, I got the thumbs up from Lei. It’s working.

We finished the pitching late in the night, and Max and everyone else was very pleased with the changes I proposed. They had made some additional remarks here and there, but finally, after working on the script for one and a half year, I felt that we had the story, the inner logic and the rhythm there. We spoke deeply about the characters and about their motivations, the motivations of different factions in the film and the whole backstory to which it was based on. It was an extremely fulfilling script meeting, although I was completely beat afterwards, like being ran over a ocean liner.

I staggered home after a hasty meal with Lei and passed out nearly instantly when my head hit the bed. I was dreaming about a weird CG production with Samuli (Torssonen) as a VFX supervisor, Jeremy Irons as the lead and me as a director, somewhere in a weird office building…

China Diary

Day 6 – Troubleshooting


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Today was a whole new story with the VFX company presentations. We visited another big one, Singapore-based VHQ, where we were greeted by the owners and the main coordinators of the company, served with tea and coffees and were taken on a tour around the facility, finishing off at a showreel presentation at their state-of-the-art theatre. Being an asian VFX company, much of the work focused on big Chinese fantasy films, but you could tell they knew their stuff.

On the way back, we started to discuss with Max the producer the script. It all started by bringing out few little details that didn’t seem to add up, but as the day progressed, we found ourselves facing a problem that was blowing up like a balloon.

We found ourselves sitting for hours at Max’s office, debating the possible solutions and eventually landed with something, but apparently, it was not quite yet there. I had to leave for a meeting elsewhere, so we agreed to continue our talks tomorrow.

Later in the evening, when I arrived back home I realised my mind was really working with the script. At first I thought I felt too tired to try anything, but decided to pop open my laptop and try out few solutions, just to see how they would look on paper.

* * *

It was 5:12 AM when I finished my work. I had typed away seven-eight hours straight, going through the whole script and reworking details and the big picture, and I must say I was pretty damn happy with the end result. I had no idea how the producers would like it, but at least I knew I had done my best. I shot the email to everyone and tried to sleep – but alas, after writing full speed for hours, it’s impossible to set the mind at ease. It took me nearly two hours of tossing, turning and Hearthstoning before I finally dozed off.

China Diary

Day 5 – Squatting issues


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So, I have two issues here: the food doesn’t sit well with my stomach, and I don’t understand how the squat toilets. work.

You do the math.

The other day we started off by visiting one of the VFX companies here. We were greeted not by the owners, or any of the artists, but two guys who appeared to be more salesmen. They showed us a comprehensive reel of their works and workflow, but unfortunately, we were left rather unimpressed. It’s the problem when the visual effects are being presented by people who sell them, but have no actual understanding on quality – I’m sure they would’ve had much better stuff to show us, the company is big and prominent, but they were more interested int he way their hair looked than how the hairs of the CG lion acted.

Later in the evening, we casted another new face to Iron Sky: The Ark. It’s one of those open-the-door-and-cast-instantly -cases, we needed to cast a girl to play the role of a very famous internet star, so what better solution than cast an actual Internet celebrity. And the celebrities here in China are a whole different world. She’s the daughter of a very well-known Chinese actor, arrived with a private plane and is 19 years of age… But so adult already, I never for a second felt I was talking to a person half my age. I guess becoming a star at young age forces you to grow up earlier – in both good and bad.

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Hello, do you have a minute to talk about the Great Cthulhu?

We ended the long day to a fantastic seafood restaurant. Like I said, I had had my stomach in a pretty bad shape more or less right from when I arrived, so I was a bit shy to eat everything on the plate, but it was so good I couldn’t resist myself, and ended up chugging plates full of octopi, crabs and shrimps with half a bottle of beautiful sake.

At home, I chatted with Annika for good three-four hours. It’s funny, I just can’t get used or bored to her thoughts, her way of thinking, her sense of humour. Being apart from her feels bad, but thank the great Cthulhu for Skype, VPN and all the means of modern communication. Well, guess that’s why I married her – it’s a good idea to pick someone you’d happily spend the rest of your life in a deserted island with, just in case North Korea decides to go crazy and throws us into a full-fletched nuclear war.