Festival Circuit

Festival Circuit, Iron Sky The Coming Race Director's Diary

Finishing The Tour – my job with Iron Sky The Coming Race is (just about) done.

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What began seven years ago with nothing but a crazy pitch and few written words on the paper, is officially now done. My third feature film Iron Sky The Coming Race has been released in many main territories, and while there are still many places left for the film to come out, my job is more or less done with it. I mean, yeah, if there’s a premiere or a festival screening somewhere, I’ll go, but the main chunk of the work – the preproduction, production, postproduction, and PR related to the release is mostly done.


The film itself will live on for many years to come, mind you. After the initial release, comes the DVD and BluRay release followed by TV and streaming services and – who knows – maybe one day even a Director’s Cut version.

But much of that is in other people’s hands. My contribution has been given.

I guess now it’s time to move on. Finish The Ark, of course, and write. I have a good heap of scripts in different stages I want to finish, one of them being, obviously, the last installment in the Iron Sky saga, but also a big pile of other stuff I want to get started or jump on board with.

I just came back from the latest festival where Iron Sky The Coming Race was screened, the amazing Grossmann Wine And Film Festival in Ljutomer, Slovenia. There, in a crowded main square, we played our film in an open-air cinema and enjoyed a great reception, preceding the cinematic release in Slovenia. I haven’t really counted how many countries the film has been released or will be released, but it’s pretty much traveling all over the world.

Grossmann audience watching the end of Iron Sky The Coming Race


So, what next?

I really want to continue down the science fiction rabbit hole, further and deeper. There are few scripts I still dream to be able to make one day, Jeremiah Harm and I Killed Adolf Hitler, but those are out of my hands. Maybe one day I’ll come back to them if an opportunity rises but the big part of filmmaking – searching for the right project – is ongoing.

I don’t trust in films falling into my lap from the skies, although I’ve seen that happen – basically, that’s how The Ark got started – but I don’t want to cling on to the first weak script that’s thrown my way, because knowing it might be that in another 7 years I’m writing this again, having finished a movie – and if it’s one I’m not happy with, I’ve just wasted a lot of my life for basically nothing. I’ve been lucky so far, having had a chance to work with films I can believe in and be proud of, and I intend not to change that.

Films – or TV. That’s another thing I’m interested in. I’d loved to get onboard a TV show and see how a production like that works. I find myself spending about as much time watching TV shows (I mean, Netflix, HBO, you know…) as films these days, and both work well for me. (Not surprisingly, we are actually plotting the last part of the Iron Sky “Moon Nazi Trilogy” in the form of a TV show.)

But yeah, rest of the year I expect spending my time mostly either writing new stuff and post-producing The Ark. Less traveling, more creating, that is. A different gear in life, that is, on the eve of me turning forty.

Luckily, we just moved to a beautiful new home in Lauttasaari, where it’s a bliss to work, just by the beach in a nice, peaceful area, so the need to get out of the house is also a bit less pressing.

Anyway, I’ll keep y’all updated on what’s going on next. Whatever it is, won’t be boring.

Festival Circuit, Iron Sky The Coming Race Director's Diary

Premiering Iron Sky The Coming Race Around The World

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I’ve been crisscrossing the Planet Earth now for the most part of the year from a premiere here to a festival screening there, all to promote my latest movie Iron Sky The Coming Race, which we spent uh, quite a while to make. While sitting in small airplanes is not what I prefer to do with my life, getting there and screening the film to tens, hundreds, even thousands of fans, friends, freaks and followers makes it definitely worth it. The latest of such trips was the one  I’m returning now from to Japan, where we had tons of interviews and a great screening with nearly two hundred fans, signing session and what not,  in the promotion to the upcoming Japan premiere.


It’s interesting to see how the film has been received all over the world. Just like the first one, Iron Sky The Coming Race is definitely splitting the opinions of both critics and filmgoers – some find it lovely, to quote one of the recent tweets I came across:


“Things of great surprise: aside from being a tangled spaghetti monster of ludicrous plot points, the sequel to Iron Sky is highly entertaining. Hollow earth, many weird cultural references, and a kick-ass mixed race female protagonist who is here for absolutely none of your shit.”

While others feel differently:

Iron Sky 2 is a truly dreadful movie, but there are circumstances in which it might be appropriate to watch it: Hackney, London.

Goes without saying, nasty critics can hurt, those who “get it” bring me right back up and that’s just pure awesome. And then there are premieres like the one in Japan, which give a whole new meaning to what I love about making these movies. This article, for example, writes very nicely:

“Iron Sky: The Third Empire Strikes Back” A masterpiece fantasy full of science fiction love.

First, we had arranged two full days of interviews – without lying at all, I probably did 30 half-hour interviews in the first two days after arriving in Japan, answering the most creative set of questions from the journalists. Seems like the whole idea of a tech cult like we have in our movie – the Jobsism – really was received well, and they were also curious on how we ended up choosing the historical figures the film proposes. There were magazines that were purely focused on crazy conspiracy theories, and I got to talk to the interviewers about deep end Hollow Earth theories, noticing they had indeed found nearly all of the little tidbits I had managed to hide there for the craziest of us to spot. There were gun magazines, where we spoke about the weapons used in the movie, and of course, film magazines who wanted to know everything about the references, my background in Japanese movies (which I have followed surprisingly much). Also, Obi as a strong leading character was appraised by Japanese media, as well as Udo Kier in his double-role.

The premiere itself was a great success. The reactions were great throughout the movie, and afterward, we had hundreds of fans gathering around, lining up like good Japanese do, for autographs, handing me gifts and taking selfies. The enthusiasm was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but walking around Tokyo and taking in the entertainment culture there, it does make sense – there is a level of enthusiasm towards music and movies unlike anything we have in Europe – or maybe we’ve had it once, but now, everything is very jaded and cynical. This is, I must admit, a bit depressing atmosphere to make movies, and I do wish there was a way to inject some joy into entertainment culture in Europe.

Not to say I’ve had bad premieres, in Europe – quite the contrary! Our Finnish premiere was a blast, the German premiere was amazing, UK and Switzerland, Brussels and Copenhagen and all those places were just pure fun to screen the film at. There’s still quite a lot of places where the film will open in the coming months – I’m now flying to Prague for Checz premiere, then there’s Slovenian premiere, some festival premieres and of course, the US release that’s coming in July.

But importantly, I guess what I’m trying to say here is: filmmakers, go and screen your film to the audience. Even if it’s for one day, it’s worth taking the time off the calendar and go out there, meet the people and get in the vibes. That’s the most direct, most enthusiastic feedback you will get. It keeps you going, no matter how complicated the film business might sometimes seem.


Anyways, arigato to our Japanese fans and our distributor Twin for the amazing premiere event and great marketing push, the film is coming out in July in Japan, crossing fingers for a great kickoff there!


Festival Circuit

Berlinale / EFM 2018

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Every year for the last eleven years on February I find myself traveling in a cramped plane to Berlin Film Festival. More than for the festival, I actually come over for the European Film Market, which pools together all the film producers, distributors, sales people, financiers and, well, the general film folk. Of course, since it’s at the same time as the prestigious Berlin Film Festival, there’s also the lauded filmmakers of the year – the actors, the directors and the producers, who scoot from premiere to press events in the black Audis, evading the gazes of the festival-goers, save their quick strut at the red carpet. And yes, there’s also the actual film lovers, the ones that crowd the theatres, flock in front of the red carpets and line up in front of the box offices in hopes for tickets. There are also the critics and the film journalists, mostly too busy to party since they have ten films to catch up today, elbowing their way into the junkets and round tables, or if they have the money, one-on-ones with the stars. And then there are those on the fringes; the VR people, the production service people, the tech folk branching into film and those who just want to have a whiff of the glamour of film world. It’s an unruly mess, and every year they gather up to do what we call the film business.

Berlin was this year warm and snow-free.

I’ve obviously been going back to Berlin ever since we started to work on the Iron Sky franchise. The first Iron Sky was released in 2012 at Berlinale, as part of the Panorama program. Later on, we’ve been back whether to finance the sequel, or the Chinese one, or just to show our faces in case someone would forget who we are. Every year we come with a different constellation: sometimes, it’s bigger group – cameraman, marketing, producer, production coordinator, director, director’s wife, you name it. Sometimes, we show up with just me and Tero, just for few business meetings.

This year’s team was producer Tero Kaukomaa and my lovely wife Annika, who’s also writing a book about the production of Iron Sky The Coming Race.

Typically, one stays in Berlin from Thursday to Monday-Tuesday. I’ve once done the whole 14 days, sometimes one week, but this time we decided we go with a small crew – me, Tero and Annika, and we stay only for three days. A grand decision indeed. We didn’t have too much to do, since Iron Sky The Coming Race was delayed until the fall, and Iron Sky: The Ark was just starting its’ post production, and other projects were on such a speculative stage. Mostly, it was negotiations with ISTCR partners on the road ahead and planning the release later this year, but there was also one meeting for a potential new project lined up for me.

Positive attitude.

Choosing the place to stay is imperative during the Berlinale / EFM time. The hotels are all quite packed, but luckily, Berlin has loads of hotels around Potsdamer Platz, the place where everything happens, and now for few times we’ve stayed in a new establishment just few hundred meters away from Potsdamer, called Grimm’s. It’s decently priced, functional, has a comfortable lobby and a good breakfast.

The three days at the festival went by quite comfortably. On the first night, there was the Finnish party. I came a bit late there, in the middle of some kind of a performance and a short film, which was left a bit empty to me since I didn’t really get the context. I was also feeling extremely unsociable for whatever reason, and decided to park my ass in the far corner of the room, so that I wouldn’t have to speak with everyone I don’t really know. Not surprisingly, many came around asking how was China (it was rough, I answered, but I think we got a good film in the can) and when is Iron Sky The Coming Race Coming (later this year, no date yet chiseled in the stone), but since I wasn’t feeling really party-ish, we decided to bail out relatively early.

Cocktail party

The next two days were a bit more animated; I enjoyed some receptions, sat down through a bunch of meetings and even got a chance to catch up with some friends who were visiting Berlin. Leaving home after three – well, three and a half days – was definitely the right choice. Tero had the most important key meeting on Monday, and we were a bit worried if he’s gonna make it, but he did appear just around the time we would’ve had to leave anyway.

Few things I noticed this year’s Berlin, I guess, were that the festival was a bit more silent – there was no big stars in town, so a lot of media were not there, and many companies had much reduced budget anyway, so no crazy marketing stunts that I spotted at least. Also, prices in Berlin are definitely hiking up. What used to be 5€ for taxi is now 10€, what used to be 10€ for a buger is now 15€…

Film business.

It’s always hard to say whether or not the festival was “good one” or “bad one”. I remember being very result-oriented on the first years, but nowadays, watching as Tero goes around without very clear plan but knows exactly who to meet and where, the results are really not easy to say. You’ll see in five to ten years who are the faces that jumped onboard with you from where, and anyone can be your most important partner, so treat them all with respect.

Annual “Kiss by the wall” -pic.