China Diary

China Diary

Day 193: Grade A Color Grading

No Comments

Color grading is definitely the most peaceful, most zen part of the film production. Taking place usually in a huge suite fitted with AAA-class lounge chairs, comfortable (yet soundless) AC, snacks and a huge 4k screen and Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sounds, it’s the most comfortable way to spend a working evening. And the work itself – it’s as far from stress and pressure as anything can be – at least, from director’s point of view. I know colorists are under a tremendous pressure, but for me, it’s easy: show up, sit down and watch as the colorist and the DP tinker with the colors of the picture. The idea is to get the grayish, non-descriptive color of the raw footage to look like the deep, resounding theatrical quality image. This usually takes quite a lot of time and careful controlling, and as a director, I’m mostly there to agree with the end results, but can’t really go into specifics: this light here could be slightly warmer, this tone could be a bit more bright, the shadow areas could have a bit more cyan in them. So I just kick back and relax and try to pay attention to what’s happening, but mostly, the work is done by people with much better eye and understanding than I do.

Colorist’s masks on Stephanie Paul’s image.
Mika enjoying the amenities of Digital Domain, Beijing.

The jetlag isn’t letting go this time, I suppose, so I won’t even try to fight it anymore. Here I am, awake at 4:41 am, since waking up after 2 hours of sleep at 23:30. I think I’ll just wait until the breakfast opens, grab some and then head back in and try to get some sleep. That usually does the trick. It means, it doesn’t leave a lot of active time for me for the day: I sleep until 2pm and then I’m picked up to the color grading.

The nights can be long. I’m usually a bit too tired to really be able to read, so I just idly scan the Internet – Reddit, 4chan, Wikipedia – and listen to some music (tonight, it was Boards of Canada and The Beatles). Then, around 3am, Annika has put her son to bed and gives me a call. We talk for about an hour about everything and nothing and anything in between, until she heads to bed herself and I’m still left fiddling with the Internet. Few games of Hearthstone, then maybe breakfast and then, only then can I get some sleep.

I’m not complaining, but I can tell you lying in this bed is bound to give me bedsores. I can’t even go to the gym since it’s open from 6am to 11pm, when I’m either asleep or at work… Ah, well.

Mika arrived today. He’s here only for three days, during which he’s working with the colorist, setting the tone for Iron Sky: The Ark. It’s great to have him around, and I’m enjoying having someone to chat in Finnish, since for the most part I’ve been left out of all the Chinese conversations during this trip. They don’t even try to start including me anymore, which is fine by me. I just zone out and focus on my stuff.

Which reminds me: I still haven’t made friends with that black dog. It’s still growling at me. I really need some ideas for this one damn scene… I have no idea where to even begin. Tomorrow, I really need to find some answers.

Until then, zoning out!

I guess this is me, manspreading.
China Diary

Day 192: Sanlitun Nights

No Comments

I woke up one minute after I was supposed to be at a meeting; battery had ran out and my phone died. Nice.

So I rushed to the Jiabo office, grabbing a coffee on the way and arriving only half an hour later to the screening, which had already started, but luckily I had seen the film yesterday so there was not so much lost there. We screened the film together with Max with Tuomas’ new music in it, and had a conversation afterwards. Max was very pleased with the music, but he did have a handful of notes which I noted and agreed with, and then we went our merry ways.

It was my “day off”, so I went back to the hotel, visiting McD (I was slightly overdozed on Chinese food this morning) and grabbing a bag full of trans-fats with me. Back at the hotel I closed the curtains and munched down the unhealthy yet heavenly-tasting lunch, watching Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a show I picked up thanks to Laibach’s Ivan’s suggestion, and have been consuming for the last month frivolously, already being at seventh season.

I thought the day might be done here and was reeling in to go to bed, but got all antsy all of a sudden and decided I wanted to go out and see some humans outside of the offices I’ve been shutting between the last week. So I donned to my best David Bowie shirt and headed over to Sanlitun area for some dinner and walking around.


Sanlitun is basically a bar street in the heart of Beijing, where a lot of us laowais (foreigners) go and find ways to spend a night. Sanlitun is full of lights, small bars with bored-looking Chinese girls dancing or singing and loads of barkers trying to get people visit their bars. It’s actually a nice walk, though, if you don’t mind the hookers shouting after you and loud Americans and Brits being all too foreign and impolite.

Beijing lights

I found a nice little Mexican restaurant and grabbed a burrito, and then walked around through few pubs, until I had my fix of other humans, and taxied back to the hotel.

IMG_6315 copy
Convenience Store

I’m still circling around that black dog of creativity, trying to figure out the sequence, but my Sanlitun trip didn’t really offer any help there, yet. I’ll get there, though. I can feel it.

China Diary

Day 191: Lannister Always Pays His Debts

No Comments

Right now, the biggest worry in my brains is a certain scene for the film which I just can’t seem to disassemble into actual images with meaning. This sequence takes place towards the end of the movie, and is described quite openly in the script, but it’s always been clear as a day to me when we shot it, but now that we are actually building it up – it’s very much VFX-related sequence – I’m out of ideas. We have sketched few big images to it, tried and experimented some techniques and tested out some footage, but nothing has really worked yet. Max is pushing me to deliver a “miracle” with the scene, and while I agree with him… I have no idea where that miracle is hidden. I feel the answer is floating around somewhere in the back of my brains, but I just can’t access it. Feels frustrating.

To me, creativity is like a big, black dog: you don’t want to stare it straight in the eye, or things may turn bad. You have to approach it carefully, let it have a smell at you and slowly let it accept you. Only then, you may have made a friend. Right now, I feel like the dog is smelling my palm, but it’s not really trusting me yet. I don’t want to rush it, but at the same time, I kinda have to.

Yesterday I spent the day by putting Tuomas Kantelinen’s music in place to the movie. It was a tedious process, with the new editor’s assistant being kind of a contributing factor to the hardship. She’s very skilled, but she speaks zero English – she has no idea what words like “stop” “play” “back” “yes” or “no” mean, I mean, she just speaks no English at all. And sometimes it feels like she doesn’t even speak Chinese; when Tanya the post production coordinator tries to explain my wishes to her, she just stares blankly at her, and then does something completely different. There is a major communications breakdown between us, and even the slightest bit of work with her can be cumbersome. But she knows her stuff, which is great; we just fail to connect in any level. Not her fault, though. But nevertheless, frustrating.

Luckily, she had done most of the work beforehand already, and to me it was just confirming the music was in place. It was also the first time I saw the new cut, since Max had made some tinkering with it, and I was pleased to find out that the film itself works pretty well.

This might actually turn into a pretty good movie. And it’s not just me saying it, though; I’ve heard positive feedback already floating in from the producers’ side, and all the way up to China Film, too. We’re not even nearly done yet, though, but seeing this taking shape now and looking pretty good at it is giving me strength to carry on pushing.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_16e76After the workday, Tanya took me to a barbershop around the corner – the price of the haircut here is 8,60€, compared to Finland where you pay anything between 35€ to 50€, and the result is just as good, even better. Here, they wash your head before and after the treatment, and they cut great.

Haircut done, we had a dinner at a closeby Sichuan hot pot place. There, the system works so that every food item is impaled in a wooden stick, which are then dipped into the hot pot sauce – either spicy or mild. Your bill is based on how many wooden sticks you have left in the table after you’re done.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_16e74 copy
Mushrooms, seafood, vegetables, noodles, sesame sauce and the hot pot. Heaven on a table.

Then, it was time to go pay my debts. Last time in town, I had visited a bar where I bought drinks, but it turned out I didn’t have enough cash with me (no, they don’t take cards here), but they told me that instead of getting the money to pay up next time when I’m in town. I’m sure they believed I’m a tourist and out of their hair as soon as the door closed behind me, but Lannistered up and came back to pay my debts – and needless to say they were surprised.

Back at the hotel, I was feeling slightly buzzed after few drinks, and ended up watching random crap at YouTube through the night. Judging from my What’sapp, I went to bed around 9am (thanks, jetlag), and woke up at 2:01pm, one minute after my first meeting of the day was to begin.

China Diary

Day 190: Of Mice And Men

No Comments

In China, I’ve eaten absolutely everything. Just day before yesterday, I had some lamb kidney, lamb tail and cow stomach. Yesterday, they brought me arterial meat of a beef, and I happily munched it (wasn’t my favorite, kinds chewy), but when I was offered a possibility to eat mice, I declined. It was introduced to me: “we could eat live mice”, but I think they meant “little” mice instead. Small detail, lost in translation. They showed me pictures, roasted little mice, but I respectfully declined. Why? I mean, there’s nothing different in eating a mouse than eating a chicken. Well, to me, there is.

There’s a line I draw between animals I’m willing to eat, and animals I’m not willing to eat. Anthony Bourdain had the same: he had some species of animals and some methods of preparation that he didn’t support, but mostly ate everything else.

Mine goes like this: if it feels like I’m betraying my fellow creature, I’m not going to eat it. If I wouldn’t like to kiss my wife with the mouth after eating the animal, I’m not going to eat it. If me eating it contributes to its’ extinction, I’m not going to eat it. And that’s all I can really say about my vague line in the sand on what’s edible and what’s not – because anything more wouldn’t really stand for closer look.

There is a huge difference in eating a dog or eating a pig. Dogs are animals that have gone through evolution alongside man, and they’ve ditched some survival instincts because they’ve grown to trust humans. Capturing them for food, I would consider it to be betrayal. Same goes with housecats, although I’m not sure if anyone really eats cats.

Mice, on the other hand, are cute little creatures. Also, a bit too ratty for my taste. I used to have some hamsters, which are practically mice, too, and eating them I couldn’t bear. I also used to have guinea pigs. Wouldn’t eat them. But rabbit I’ve eaten and enjoyed. So go figure…

Nevertheless. My line in the sand is: no dogs, no mice, no guinea pigs. No cats, no monkeys and no endangered animals. Not a very sustainable guideline, but that’s now I roll.

It’s been over a year since I started writing this blog. Exactly a year ago, we were just starting out the last storyboarding session for the film in Beijing. I was only beginning my huge six months stint in China, but already had been over two weeks away from home.

Today, a year later, we just finished screening the latest VFX shots of the movie, and listened through the first pass of music. Somewhere between these 365 days we managed to cast, shoot and edit the film, and now we are on the final stretch to get it ready. But to think  how far from this point we were 12 months ago, it feels like there could have easily passed at least twice or three times the time…

Nowadays sometimes I allow myself to think a little ahead of what’s coming up next year. Before, when everything was still much more uncertain, I declined to go thinking about the next year. Maybe it was superstition (I didn’t want to jinx it, or something), but mostly, it was because I didn’t want to start doing any planning until I actually knew more on what’s going to happen.

Now, I’m a bit wiser. I know for sure Iron Sky The Coming Race is coming out on January 16th. A film that has been seven years in the making. And I know for a fact we are going to release Iron Sky: The Ark next year as well. So, two films in one year. What this means is premieres, a lot of premieres. Promotion, a lot of that, too. And traveling… I’m already bracing for the flight miles I’m going to have to take to make it through next year. It’s probably going to be the only year I release two films in the same year, so I need to be prepared for it. If the release of the first Iron Sky is any kind of an indicator, it’s going to be busy, busy, busy like the Bokononians like to whisper.

PS. For some reason I don’t have a lot of photos of my current trip… So I’ll just throw in some old stuff instead. Since, actually, today one year ago was the day when I first met with Vivienne Tien, who I almost instantly casted to play the lead in Iron Sky: The Ark. This is her, from one year ago!



China Diary

Day 189:On The Brilliance Of The Chinese

No Comments

The brilliance of the Chinese in some things is great. One of the moments when you go just like “why don’t we have it in the west” was yesterday, after a dinner. We had had few white wines, and the person who drove us there found himself a bit inebriated. Not too much, mind you, only two beers, but enough to make the ride home not a 100% safe bet – so instead of him either sobering up, or leaving the car back, he ordered a “drunk driver” from his phone app!

The Hot Pot

And lo and behold, in 10 minutes a guy comes in riding a small, foldable electronic bike, folds it up, packs it in the back of our driver’s car, and takes us all safely home. What a great service! Would 100% work in LA, and definitely in Finland, too.


The meal was, of course, hot pot. It has been good three months since I had any, and boy was I happy to dig into another pot of boiling water and delicious meat. Lamb kidney, cow stomach, lamb tail… Just pure brilliance.


Typical hot pot dinner consists of sesame sauce with spices (the brown sauce on the left hand side corner), raw meat (pork and beef, usually) which you cook in the pot yourself, shrimp (the balls in the middle) and kind of a bread you finish the meal with (peeking on the left hand side corner).

We had started the day a bit earlier, already at 2pm, meaning I was tired as hell to begin with. Jetlag dictates that I rarely sleep before the breakfast, and afterwards, I need a good 7 hours of sleep at lest. In this case, it wasn’t happening, and the day itself was a brain-rattling one. In the movie we have one damned sequence which has always been slightly a mystery to me. It’s an abstract sequence which, when reading, makes sense, but to really crack it open to images and actual shots is a much harder bit. We sat with Max at VHQ’s cinema, and went on to long debates on what it should, could and would be, and even though we did land into some kind of a plan, it still does feel slightly shapeless. I’ll have to re-visit the idea today, and see if there’s a way to make it clearer.

After the meeting we went back to Jiabo, where we had another meeting with our sound designer, mr. Wu. With him we watched the film’s first 20 minutes discussing the soundspace it would require us to create. While much of it is business as usual, there are still elements that require a bit more thought over: how does a “mysterious message” from the Moon sound like. What’s the film’s approach to sounds in space – the ages-old question? What does a “moonquake” sound like. Questions I’ve been pondering with the two earlier films I made as well, but each film is different.

Selfie stare.
China Diary

Day 188: An Ordeal

No Comments

The silence of the hotel. The smooth buzz of the traffic outside. I’m back in China, Beijing, Hotel New Otani Chang Fu Gong, and it’s time to get back to writing, too!

Getting here this time was quite an ordeal indeed. The production booked my tickets well in advance, but what I didn’t realize to have a look at closer was the way my name was spelled in the ticket. Instead of regular MR VUORENSOLA/TIMO it was MR TIMO/VUORENSOLA. Might look suspiciously similar, but there’s a huge difference: the Chinese travel agent had mixed my last name and my first name, and as I rushed to the counter, the first response was: you can’t fly with this ticket. Your name is wrong.

Luckily, Finnair was able to fix the naming, but it did cost a bit and was an unnecessary hassle. Amidst it all I forgot to dump my luggage to the desk, and had to turn back at the security after lining up for a while when I realized I definitely can’t take my hockey bag size of a luggage as hand luggage to the plane.

At Finnair lounge, I enjoyed a glass of champagne, some wine, a whiskey and a beer, so by the time I was at the plane, I was already nicely buzzed. I had decided to try to attempt to stay awake through the flight to battle the jetlag (didn’t work), so I had some dinner and watched some Curb Your Enthusiasm and few more drinks on the way to China.

Flying with Finnair’s fleet to Beijing is really comfortable, I must say, especially if you travel in business. The food is pretty great and the service is good, and the seats are comfortable and big enough even for me. I can’t really lie down completely, but pretty well nevertheless. The flight itself is only seven or so hours, so you really get to watch a film or two, have some dinner, breakfast, a nap and you’re already in Beijing.

After landing, everything went more or less by the book. I was a bit groggy from not having slept, but I was confident I could get to my bed quickly enough. Little did I know i was about to spend the next 2 hours in terrible Beijing traffic, and the hotel itself was fully booked and my room wasn’t ready until in one hour. By this time I had stayed awake for 24 hours so I was indeed damn tired, so when they finally got the room for me, I was ready to crash right there.

Unfortunately, though, the floor they booked the room was on 20th, which apparently is kind of a smoking floor (although smoking is forbidden, but apparently it doesn’t apply to the 20th floor), so entering the room felt like taking a dive into an ashtray. I was too tired to really worry about the smell and slept like a log for six or so hours, waking up every now and then and inhaling a lungful of sweet cigarette smell.

But before I continue, maybe it’s a good moment to take few steps back and go back in time. Last time I wrote here was in May, so there has been quite a lot of progress in every field in the last three months indeed.

After returning from my trip to China, I flew instantly to LA, where we shot a clip for the upcoming Iron Sky The Coming Race. Simultaneously, the Finnish Market Court finally ruled in our favor in the long-running legal case related to the first Iron Sky, which, at the same time, propelled our remaining funding challenges for the film to a victorious finale, meaning Iron Sky The Coming Race is back on track and ready to be released in January 2019, after over a year of sitting on our hands and waiting to finally get going. I did visit Croatia and watched the Croats beat the Russians during the Football World Championships, I visited Ljubljana and met with Laibach, with whom we restarted the compositing of the music for Iron Sky The Coming Race, and also started Cinesync sessions with Pixomondo to finish the visual effects of ISTCR.

In addition to this, my wife did force me to go to the doctor, to check up on my blood pressure. And indeed, it is elevated. I got instructions to lose weight (I can’t understand what they are talking about) and watch out for high cholesterol foods, and all in all try to lead a more healthy lifestyle. What a drag… But, it’s better to act now than when it’s too late, I guess… And I should look more dashing at the premieres, if nothing else! (And it’s working, too, mind you – I’ve managed to shave off some 5 kg already in the first few weeks – which, of course, is mostly liquids but still).

Speaking of premieres, it turns out both Iron Sky The Coming Race and Iron Sky: The Ark will be released around the same time, so next year will be rather busy for me. Also, I have started to read and develop scripts for the future projects, so… Much has indeed happened in the last three months.

Alright, back to China. So, here I am, back and ready to start working on a bunch of post production tasks for Iron Sky: The Ark. There’s meetings with our VFX team VHQ scheduled, a meeting with our sound designer, mr. Wu, and some color grading with Mika planned for next week, too.

We started today with an extensive VHQ meeting. We went to their offices and sat at the big theatre, and started to go through the shots they had either nearly finished or finished, and went through mine and Max’s comments on them. Mostly, everything is looking really beautiful. There’s a lot of spectacular, amazing and huge shots coming up for the movie, and watching them on big screen instead of my crappy little monitor is just mind blowing. The film indeed starts to look like a real movie, and a great one, too, if I may say so!

There’s of course still a long way to go, but now that I’ve already seen a bunch of shots nearly finished – or finished – I’m really relieved that we are absolutely on the right track. Now if I just could shake off the jet lag, I’d be a much happier director – and soon, much healthier, too!

That’s just us enjoying the last rays of Finnish summer in Helsinki few weeks ago.
China Diary

Day 187: Amicable quarrels

No Comments

This entry was supposed to be sent out already few weeks ago when I returned back from China, but I got sidetracked with work, and forgot to finalize this. But here it is, few weeks late…

We had another quarrel with Max on the edit of the movie yesterday. It started with me having watched the latest version of the film, one where Max had made his adjustments, and they didn’t sit all that well with me. Mind you, we are talking about details that probably won’t have a huge effect on the film overall, but when working closely on something, they become the size of a mountain.

I had been tossing and turning in my bed the whole night, going through different ways how to express my thoughts to Max in a way that he would get what I mean, so I was grumpy “waking” up (or rather, “quitting my sleeping attempts”) and dragging my ass to VHQ, the company that does the VFX for Iron Sky: The Ark.


I met Max outside the meeting room and instantly we launched on a debate. I started by explaining my main issues, and Max listened to them, and then offered his balanced reply. But as it is in so many cases between us, the debate got more and more heated as we both tried to explain our angle of approach, until we got both so worn out by language challenges and the discussion that we decided to give it a rest, and agreed that I’ll write a detailed reply to him on what I believe we should change in the cut.

Afterwards, we had a good session with VHQ’s Chris Yao and the team. They had prepared a set of shots for me to look and comment at, like we usually do over Cinesync, but now we had two main sequences in the movie where we needed to really sit down and share in detail the thoughts. There is only so much you can do over voice chat and shared desktop…

A small portion of our VFX team working on Iron Sky: The Ark visual effects.

Despite our disagreement on the cut, with Max we are able to put it all aside and have a great dinner afterwards. We went for some hot pot with the team, and shared a bottle of white wine, laughed and discussed the future and the release strategy. This is very important: even if you have a disagreement with some part of the production on something, never let it get in the way of personal relationships: if you are amicable, even the hardest disagreements can be settled over – because both are on the same side of the table.

The next day, I jumped on a plane and grabbed the latest cut of the movie with me. I spent the whole flight re-editing the film according to my wishes, and made a thorough commentary back to Max, added with a new edit of the movie, and sent it over. About a week later he came back with an email, where he agreed with a lot of my points, and we agreed to take both of our views in account when creating the final cut. We instructed the editor and I received the cut just recently – and I think it’s pretty damn good! It serves both of our interests in a good, collaborative spirit and works really well as a full film.

China Diary

Day 186: Logic And Flow

No Comments

There’s only so much you can change in a film after it has been shot, but apparently the Chinese way is to disregard the above and go ahead and change anyway. I’ve been working for about two years now with Max and I know he is very, very persistent with the story of his for Iron Sky: The Ark. My mission, when I started to work on the film, was to make it as fun and enjoyable adventure as possible; for Max, the film’s core message goes deeper, and he is relentless in pursuing the clarity of it.

Now, as a director I’m torn between good movie and clear story. Sometimes, these two don’t walk hand in hand; sometimes you have to sacrifice one in order to get the other one working. If you go back and think about a bunch of movies you love, it’s easy to spot logic holes in them; but when the characters work and the story flows, logical mistakes are forgiven. Yeah, the Eagles could have taken the Hobbits straight to Mount Doom and the film could’ve been over before it started. Indeed, Prometheus is one big logic hole itself, but I absolutely love the film. And so on, and so on…

So right now, we are still trying to find the ideal balance between logic and flow. I’m more inclined to go with the flow, Max is hunting for the logic, and we are trying to solve those issues through edit, ADR, VFX and other methods still available at our disposal after the shoot is done.

I do feel a bit bad for our VFX supervisor; it feels there’s a lot of work to be done, and today we sat down together and I described in detail the final key sequence of the movie to him. He says “yeah, no problem”, but I sense a worry in his eyes; the good thing is, he is a true artist himself, so he wants to go where it’s most aesthetic, and this will be important for the final sequence. I don’t want it to be photorealistic, but like a beautiful art film sequence instead. Trick is to try to find the balance between story, logic and aesthetics there, too. It can’t be just a splash of colors and shapes, but it needs to tell a story, too. Some say Kubrick’s 2001’s ending is exactly that – just colors, shapes and sounds for God knows how long, but I think it tells a sound story, yet in a beautiful and artistically challenging way. Same goes with the opening of The Tree Of Life, another beautiful segment in film history, but unfortunately often told to be too long, too abstract and too conceptual.

It’s a shame film as a form of art has been reduced to absolute realism; anything more experimental is considered bad and unfilmlike. Anyway, that’s another balance I’m trying to find there in the ending sequence… You’ll hopefully see one day what I mean.

I finished the day off by having a dinner with a friend from the production crew, eating Xinjiang food. The Xinjiang area, which is located in the Western China, is known for its’ Middle-Eastern -influenced dishes, and the fact that the southern part of the province is not a very friendly place for a regular Han Chinese to visit, due to some unrest in the area.

This unrest, though, presented on part in our great dinner at Baron Rozi Restaurant in Beijing, where we had some wonderful breads, meat skewers, some great spicy chicken and yoghurt.



China Diary

Day 185: Cyberpunk

No Comments

Damn that Chinese white wine…

I woke up feeling like someone had pissed in my mouth. I crawled my way to the toilet and stared at my aging face on the mirror. I felt like there was a metal band wrapped around my brains, being squeezed tighter slowly. Sleeping was out of the question – I had, in the end, had a full 7 hours of rest, although I didn’t feel like it. So, most of the morning went by as tossed and turned around in the hotel bed, had a bit of breakfast and then came and continued. Finally – it was close to noon – when I managed to get up, I felt like ready to face the day.

Cyberpunk 2020

First things first, checkout and then an interview with the Future Affairs Administration, a Beijing-based science fiction magazine. We discussed widely everything ranging from Finland’s science fiction and mythological history to J.R.R. Tolkien’s world, Star Trek and beyond. It’s great to see science fiction fandom activating slowly in China, too, since the country has a vast history in scifi and fantasy, but rarely is it recognized as such. The interviewer asked me if I think China could be thought as a country where science fiction is written, too; I told her to walk into the center of Beijing and take a look around: you guys *live* in a science fiction world. A Cyberpunk / Blade Runner world is your everyday existence, all you have to do is write about it.


Since the next days I would be working doing the post production for Iron Sky: The Ark, I changed the hotel back to New Otani Chang Fu Gong, which is close to Jiabo production company office. By now, having spent three two months of my life in the recent 12 months in this hotel, it was like coming back home: same staff greeting me once again, the room is the one I know oh-so-well.

Blade Runner

The meeting today was about music. I played our sketches composed by Tuomas to Max and the production team. The feedback was positive, although the music is still in early stages. Like I said, I want to create electronic overall feel, but of course, we need good melodies and themes that carry through the film. The minimalistic but vast score does a great job in painting a huge universe around the film. The biggest challenge is to nail down a certain piece of music which repeats through the film, an ancient lullaby of sorts. This we had a lengthy discussion about, and although I think there’s a lot of good in what we have already there, still a lot of work remains to be done.

We talked a bit more with Max exchanging ideas on future schedules, and then I called it a day and went back to the hotel. It was merely 6pm, but I crashed on the bed and was fast asleep quickly. Waking up just past midnight, I did have my 6 hours of beauty sleep, and now I’m in my bed working. From 00:30 to 4:30 I have managed to answer loads of emails, had a Skype call to USA and whatnot. Night is a great time of productivity, since there’s really nowhere you can go.


China Diary

Day 184: A Sense Of Humour

No Comments

Yesterday was the main day for us at the APSFcon in Beijing. We had two panel discussions scheduled, and a handful of interviews, so after a badly slept night I met Tero downstairs and we taxied to the venue. The weather was gray and smelt of rain, with fog engulfing the buildings in the distance as we drifted through the Sunday Beijing traffic.

As we arrived, the festival was in full spin mode. Geeks of all kind wandered around the big halls of Museum of Science, lining up for events. One thing I noticed here in Beijing compared to every other scifi conventions I’ve been is the absence of cosplay; people don’t dress up almost at all here, save very few occasions..


Both panels were cryptically named, and turned out the moderators had been hired for both on a whim, so they didn’t know that well the topics either, but as it often is, the guests and the discussion made the event, so at the first one we spoke of science fiction in Europe and Russia – I had no idea Ukraine had such a wealth of science fiction going on, nor that Checz is active in that front as well – and debated the endless “what is the difference between fantasy and science fiction” (I ended up quoting Johanna Sinisalo, who said “fantasy is a detailed fairytale, and science fiction is a detailed fantasy”).

The second panel was well-attended. We had a handful of guests – filmmakers, scifi writers and a film festival guy – with whom we discussed cult films. The event started, though, with a video which we had made last year, paralleling the Trump speeches to Iron Sky script, which I had completely forgotten, and knowing China is not the best place for crazy political humour especially right now, I was white as a sheet when Renate lifted her right hand into a Nazi salute followed by a similar clip of Trump… But it got a huge laugh from the audience, which made me realize that yeah, Chinese people have a sense of political humour, it’s just not as common here in dinner conversations as maybe in Europe.



We finished our visit at the first APSFcon in Beijing doing two interviews, discussing Iron Sky, the future of the franchise and crowdfunding with the journalists. Then, we escorted our asses out of the venue and headed for a quick nap at the hotel, and got ready for the evening. Max had invited us over for a dinner at a local Beijing Duck restaurant, with Mrs. Fang, Chris and also Lei being in attendance. We had a good ol’ time, enjoyed a perfectly oven-roasted duck, and exchanged stories and memories from the production. Mrs. Fang is just about to finish her job at editing the film, while Chris is working hard with the VFX, and Lei is already onboard a new project, one with 100 shooting days looming ahead of him. He looked exhausted already, poor man.


We raised endless amounts of glasses of Chinese white wine, and eventually headed with Tero for a night cap at Moli, the whiskey bar I’ve spent so much time during pre- and post production of the film. Annoyingly, the place had a new policy, where you can’t sit at the comfy sofas unless you spend at least 600 RMB; a ridiculous system, which they even seemed to feel bad about, but instead we sat down at the bar and enjoyed a really well made whiskey sour instead.

Back at the hotel, we sat down with Tero talking a bit more; as he said to the interviewer earlier, having worked together for over ten years by now and still being able to have a beer and a good conversation means the relationship is sound and good. Although we come from very different backgrounds, we share a sense of humour which allows us to create films like Iron Sky, which I believe is the very basis of friendship: ability to share similar sense of humour. Everything else is more or less cosmetic.