Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, Life

Winter Is Coming


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We released the first official teaser for my upcoming Jeepers Creepers: Reborn -movie two weeks ago, alongside the teaser poster. Both were well received in the Internet and while sharing but a quick glimpse of what we’ve been working, they have well grasped the vibe the film is going for.

A lot of people have been asking for additional information – release date, official full trailer and so forth. I’ve always tried to explain that in case of Jeepers Creepers: Reborn I don’t have that information – I know just about as much as the rest of the people, although, of course I’m constantly working with the post production team to finish the film, so there’s that. But it’s all coming together very nicely and I can’t wait to get to present the movie once it’s finished.

Some of you have been following me on the blog but just to recap, we shot the film in two parts – first, in Louisiana, then in UK. The Louisiana shoot was DP’d by amazing Brad Rushing and took a bit to prepare and shoot under the scorching Louisiana early autumn, while avoiding hurricanes, power outages and what not. We assembled a really fun team to work with, and obeying the COVID-19 regulations, managed to get everything done in a beautiful way – some photos of the adventure below:

The journey continued in UK, where we went to Lasham, close-ish to London to Black Hangar Studios where the second block took place between December and January 2020-2021. COVID-19 was rampant right then and the whole country was in a pretty hardcore lockdown mode, so going around places, not to mention prepping and shooting the film was always a bit of an added challenge. I mean, filmmaking is always hard – with the strict lockdowns and everything, it’s nearly impossible.

But it turned out to be also quite an intimate experience. The crew was mostly packed in an old mansion in the countryside and we were quite a tight team from beginning to the end. The UK shoot was DP’d by extremely talented Simon Rowling.

After getting back from the adventure I’ve mostly spent time moving, recovering, and watching over the VFX and post-production process. In addition to this, I’ve been working on two new feature films, the other one I’m shooting later this year, an action flick, and another one, a horror picture that I’m eyeing for next year shoot. It’s nice to keep oneself busy – to pace it with something I also directed two commercials (for Gigantti and Genano) and have been popping in and out of film festivals – Sombra festival in Spain and Trieste Science+Fiction festival in Italy, and the online one at Molinas, Spain where I’ve been in the jury watching loads of films and getting inspired for future endeavors.

The winter is now at the door. It’s raining in Helsinki and you only see short glimpses of light daily. There’s no escape from the fact that it’ll be a long dark and rainy time but at least there’s some pretty interesting things happening keeping the spirits high. Covid is also fading – at least, in general. US opens its’ doors for international travel tomorrow and most of the clubs and bars, restaurants and hobby places are open here in Helsinki without too strict restrictions. Still possible we get back to something if things go worse or a new variant pops up, but so far it’s looking good – as long as you’re vaccinated.

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn, Life

Welcome To The Fall


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Autumn, my favourite time of the year, is upon us. September brings the chilly air, paints the trees in millions of colors and prepares us for yet another long winter ahead of us here in Finland. I thought it’s about time I give a bit of an update on what’s going on with my life lately, as I find myself being less and less active on the social media these days.

Ever since I returned back from my long-ass trip to Louisiana and UK, I’ve stayed more or less put back in Finland, save few quick trips. One of the reasons has been, obviously, the rampant COVID-19, which keeps on making traveling really complicated and rather expensive. The other one is, with a flick of a switch, everything in the industry just went online.

Finally, I might add.

The tools have been around forever, but for years, we the filmmakers have spent gazillions in traveling to short meetings across the globe, ones that could just as easily have been made on a Skype – or nowadays, Zoom -meeting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a definitive need for traveling when working on international co-productions, whether for negotiations, casting or post-production elements such as editing, mixing and color-grading, which are hard to do swiftly online. In addition to this, film festivals are important, and can’t be replaced with online screenings and Zoom meetings, this would cut out a whole left leg and arm of the industry – the opportunity to bounce into like-minded folks, to pitch that random-ass project you’ve been working on or catching up that film you’d normally end up skipping completely.

But much of stuff that’s been given, is nowadays easier, swifter and more accessible than before. When I released the first Iron Sky, my managers and agent in US sent me out on a “coffee or water” -tour across LA. I met with Marvel, Paramount, Universal… You name it. The name “coffee or water” delivers, of course, from the first question you’ll be asked when coming to a meeting. Those meetings weren’t for nothing, although nothing came out of them. Well, not exactly “nothing”, I started to work on a project called Jeremiah Harm, which, sadly, never came to be (and probably for the best, it might have just been overran by Guardians of Galaxy that came out around the same time).

Nowadays, those meetings are de facto Zoomies, and I salute that. Only issue is attending them from Finland, which often means having to stay up until past midnight, but I’m a bit of a night owl these days, so nothing new there. But nevertheless, the conversations are the same, it’s less of a stress to get around and more focus on discussions. And as always, there’s really nothing to expect at this point on the discussions, but who knows, something might come out of it all.

Right now, thanks to Jeepers Creepers being underway, there is a level of interest in me as a fresh face in the horror and thriller community, which is often the easier and more accessible route into finding one’s footing in US market. With scifi, projects are often too heavy to lift off the ground, but with horror one can do impressive things with smaller budgets, which is less risk for every party, and there’s always that huge hit potential as we know can happen with well made horror.

Speaking of Jeepers, the post production is well under way. Right now we are focusing on laying down sounds, music and – of course, visual effects. With Jeepers, it turned out to be quite a big VFX job in the end.

Luckily, I can say we are in good hands. VFX supervisor Jason Rayment has pulled out the big guns for this and is showing an extremely quality-driven attention to every detail of every shot. I’m happy to follow the progress from my vantage point on the other end of the pipeline, watching as the scenes that were nothing more than quickly sketched storyboards only few months ago, are starting to look top notch.

It’s hard to say when the film really does come out. The producers have their plans and schedules in their mind, but unlike with Iron Sky -films, where I’m much closer to being a producer, with Jeepers my job was to direct the film and guide the post production process, but anything regarding the release goes through the producers. Simultaneously, I’m pretty openly active on Instagram and Twitter, which brings a lot of people to me, asking whether I know when the film comes out, or the trailer, or cast or plot details – but all of this I’m not at liberty to discuss. Our official Instagram and Twitter accounts are the only places you’ll find accurate information. We might have a Facebook, too, but as I’m not there, I have no clue of that.

Other stuff is happening, too. The Chinese film – The Ark – has finally seen what I’m thinking as the final, locked cut of the movie, and now the question is how to finish it. There was a break in the production due to reasons related and unrelated to Covid-19, so re-gearing up and getting the film back on track is a bit of a hurdle, but I believe in the renewed enthusiasm of our team, because I really believe it’s a pretty nice movie which needs to see the light of day rather sooner than later, and now we are on the track of doing that.

Obviously, the bankruptcy of Iron Sky Universe, the company that handled the IP of Iron Sky, was a big blow not only in business level, but personally. Having worked so hard on something and bringing it so close – yet so far away – from big success truly burned me down for quite a while. Coming out of such and intensive production, I probably went into some kind of a work stress related state of depression for months. During that time I tried re-inventing myself, as a advertisement guy. I went and worked at two ad companies for about a half a year, but honestly, I didn’t find a footing there. Either I was still too exhausted from Iron Sky, or the work – 9-5 office job – just wasn’t for me. Then, Covid hit and everything grinded to a halt and I had to take a breather, to really decide what’s next, and go on from there.

The few months of complete lockdown of Covid was indeed a lifesaver for me. I had a chance – a permission, actually, an order from the government – to not to do anything but stay indoors and stay put. That cranked my mind into understanding that nope, there’s no re-inventing oneself, you’ll just have to pick your head up and march on, and good things will come. And they did. And are still coming. But if I ever had a middle life crisis, those months after release of The Coming Race and leading up to Covid-19 lockdowns were when that took place.

Not looking forward into repeating those experiences, though.

And right now, we are looking into a brighter future. While the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, there are vaccinations and people are more knowledgable about the disease than when it started. Man, it was scary then. I remember laying in my bed with my wife talking for hours on at night about what all this means, how bad can it turn into, what’s our future going to be like. But today, it’s different. It’s still just as scary and deadly disease, but we know what to do to keep it in reins:

Get. Vaccinated.

Zero excuses.

In addition for working on Jeepers Creepers, and pushing The Ark forward, I’m also developing another very interesting production, also in the realm of horror, and setting up the next episode in the world laid out in the first two Iron Sky movies. I’m also and helping out friends with their films, scripts and productions. I’ve had numerous discussions with producers on possible projects, and that’s what the biggest part of our film director’s work is. I compare it to those horse race games in the penny arcades, I don’t know what they are called but the ones where you put money and horses move forward in their lanes. At one point, one may be galloping fast, but suddenly come to a complete standstill, and a wild card of a horse makes its way across the finish line, one you would’ve never believed could do it. It’s the same with film productions, everything moves forward, it’s just the question of pace, but one should never lose hope on stuff even if they need to be halted for a long time. (I’m happy to tell you that even an oldie goldie of mine, I Killed Adolf Hitler has resurfaced lately.)

In my personal life, there’s also been some turmoil. I’ve moved to a new area in Helsinki called Kallio, which is like night and day from Lauttasaari where I used to live for years. The beautiful beaches and woodlands of the Isle of Happiness have changed into trams, tramps and tarmac, and the fuzz and buzz of the central capital city. I love seeing the newly-found diversity of folk around here – in Lauttasaari, seeing a band T-shirt is a rare occasion, let alone people of other cultures, it’s very white, very suburbian and very middle-class. In Kallio, life happens constantly, up to the point of it sometimes being quite rough and rowdy. But I never found that intimidating myself, for me, it’s part of the world we live in, and trying to push that away from one’s surrounding is not good in the long run. But more than anything, a change of scenery is refreshing and sets mind down new paths and alleyways.

Kallio, my new neighbourhood.

Also, my son started studying in the media school in Tampere, and I’m really proud of him. He’s getting first hand education in all the stuff I still use constantly – I just wish I had chosen that road back when I was in school. So much really cool really important stuff being taught every day, and I love watching him finding his calling – whether it’s filmmaking or other part of media world, or something completely different. It’s weird, just few years ago he went to the preliminary school, and now he’s already a young dude making his world. May it be an amazing one!

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Gone To Place, Came Back!


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I’ve now been back in Finland for a little over 2 weeks since returning from the last leg of shooting in UK. The latest stretch, which took 1 months of prepping and 8 days of shooting, concluded the shoot for the film I’ve been working on for the last about 1 years, and now remaining is edit, sound, music and, well, release.

Moonlight.

Only now, I’ve started to be able to actually gather my thoughts on the last 6 months I’ve been away. The journey begun with me flying to UK for a day of meetings, then off to Dubai. In Dubai, I spent time writing and working on the script, with producer Jake popping over for about a week. Then, it was time to fly to Louisiana, where we started prepping for the first part of the shoot. It took about 1,5 months of slow-cooking preparations in the sweltering heat of Louisiana to get the first three shooting days done, after which it was time to fly to UK.

Dark Woods

In UK, we started prepping with a completely new crew to the main stretch of the shoot. Original plan was to shoot everything in one go and get home by Christmas, but this turned out to be impossible as Covid ate two of our shooting days and after that, we had to break for Christmas. I missed my chances to hit home for Christmas thanks to Covid instant lockup all across the world due to new UK strain of the virus, but found a way via France and Amsterdam eventually home for few days, before heading back in early January.

Director, cold and in the dark.

In Louisiana, we stayed at the studio lot where I had my own apartment. In UK during the first stretch of the shoot, we “all” – that means, most of the HODs – stayed at Froyle Park mansion, which suited well for us to enjoy fun times when not shooting. Coming back to UK after Christmas, I first stayed at the local Alton hotel Alton House, but found it being extremely drab, and was later relocated to a much nicer Northbrook, a Froyle-style mansion but with separate cottages that have their own kitchens and washing machine options etc. We stayed there with two folk from our makeup team with, and must say I enjoyed the peace there as well, as it was a bit away from all the noise and fuzz.

Night Shooting.

Anyway, the film is now in the can! That’s quite amazing. That’s my 5th feature film that’s done and done, and one I’m particularly proud of, not just because it’s something I’ve never done before – not a scifi film – and i’m happy of the outcome. Of course, it still has quite a bit of VFX to be done, which goes without saying, but it’s way less than any of the films I’ve done before, so it relies much more on what we actually shot and how we cut it together. It’s also much more reliant on atmosphere, which needs to be spot on to capture the special nature of the story.

And yeah, I’m excited getting to show the film to you all. So stay tuned!

Gray morning over at Black Hangar Studios

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Back in the U.K.


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Post-Brexit travel to UK means a lot more of border checks, small paper slips you have to not to lose, many more police officers staring at you with suspicion and a general atmosphere of “why was this necessary”. Add to that the extremely strict Covid-19 restrictions in UK, this is definitely not a fun fair, coming back to UK after the short Christmas break I managed to have.

And if you thought 2020 was a weird year, 2021 is looking ever weirder. Just recovering from the shock of US government practically showing its’ true face as Trump incited a group of crazy rebels to attack the Capitol and did nothing to stop it. I wonder what’s left of anything by the end of year…

But here I’m back in the UK. We are prepping to get back on to the shoot after the break, figuring out exactly what we still have left to shoot and what’s to come. It’s a big list but also, it’s been good looking at the stuff we already have and get a feeling that it’s coming together very nicely.

Right now, studios are silent and there’s only few people around but already starting today some are starting to flow back. It’s great to get the group together and finish this beast.

Oh, and it’s David Bowie’s birthday! Have a magnificient one, wherever you fly, Starman!

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Day 101: Stranded


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Saturday was the last shooting day of our first block here in UK. During that time, we shot in greenscreen studio, outside at studio backlot, at virtual sets – and finished at practical sets built in the studio. The team was beyond phenomenal, and we managed to get by without any Covid-19 cases, thanks to our rigorous testing process. But also, we got lucky: we had big crew, tens of extras coming and going and a hectic shooting schedule. We may have not been the gold standard of film productions, but we definitely tried our very best to stick to the rules, and that helped to keep us clear of all of it.

Red.
Green.
Blue.
As always, my trusted Capt. Picard was overlooking the shoot behind the monitors.

Today, I watched the current cut of the film. Obviously, it’s still missing at least one third, but already I could see it rocking. So now it’s time to head for a Christmas break, just in time as Covid is getting heavier across Europe and in UK. Our plan is to come back in January to finish the shoot, Covid permitting of course. But for now, our apartment at Froyle is slowly getting more and more quiet as people are leaving for the holidays. It’s always a melancholic moment, and looking back at our amazing crew, it feels like a piece of my heart leaves home with them.

Only thing, I’m not going anywhere.

EU decided in a flash move to close the borders for all incoming traffic on air, water and land from UK, just in time for Christmas. What a wonderful world we live in. This is, obviously, due to the new Covid-19 strand that’s going around, and is being said to be 70% more infectious than the ones we’ve had before, and it has been discovered here in UK. The Foreign Ministry informed that all travel will be banned for 2 weeks, which means that in case they stick to the regulations, I may not be able to come home for Christmas or even New Year.

Now, that sucks. We’ve been planning with wife to have a nice Christmas, reuniting with my family after over 100 days of absence, but it seems that that’s simply not going to happen. It seems I’ll spend the Holidays alone in a small hotel in a small town… Certainly not the kind of Christmas I was expecting for. But then again, this goes with the whole year. I bet 2020 goes down in history as one of the pivotal years of recent history.

I don’t really feel like writing too much today as I’m feeling slightly depressed given the circumstances, but hopefully will come back with more gleeful entry in the coming days, now that I actually have some time. I want to write about what I learned during this production, what I would’ve done differently and how Covid in practical terms affected the shoot.

But for now, stay safe, keep your hands clean and your socials distanced and have a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Day 72: Ready to shoot!


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It’s now been approximately three weeks I’ve spent prepping for the shoot for the film here in UK, staying at Froyle Park haunted mansion and traveling daily to the studio for the work.

A lot has happened. Let me start from where we are with the movie.

When we started to work on the project, I wanted to take the franchise this is based on, and twist it into a modern take of what we are building here. This means obviously on script level, but also in casting and revamping the horror elements into ones that are more – like our production designer Sivo Gluck says – funky. This means, more “today” than when the series originally started.

This, I think we’ve managed to grasp that in quite a good detail. The film feels like it’s a product of this time, not a re-heated take of something that was once popular. To make this happen, one needs to be ready to really swipe the whole table clean.

The team here in UK is nothing short of phenomenal. The production designer, props, cinematographer, costume, makeup, AD team… just a tremendous team. There’s of course still the actual shoot to be done, so I can’t really judge anyone’s performance as of yet, but I’m very excited. And most importantly, I’m excited of our cast. A long and complicated casting process which relied on endless Zoom calls as due to lockdown we shouldn’t be meeting anyone, it was quite a strange experience.

We are starting to shoot tomorrow. The shoot is going to last until Christmas, after which we all head back home, then in few weeks back to Louisiana to finish what we started over there.

Other things have happened, too. We are in lockdown, this means, no restaurants, pubs or bars are open. This is a big problem for a hard-working film crew full of artists who need a way to wind out after a shooting day. Luckily, we are all staying in this huge-ass hotel/mansion in the countryside, so we’ve made our own party there. But having said that, we are waiting eagerly for the lockdown to end, to be able to pop our heads out into the public for just a bit…

I’ve been away from home for 72 days, that’s over 2 months. I haven’t had a chance to see my family in over 2 months, and it’s gonna take another 1 month until I’m back home. It’s pretty hard, and alienating. I feel pretty lonely here for the most part of the time. And because it’s lockdown, Covid and all, I can’t even get them to travel here, which would normally be the case. It really wrenches my heart.

But, having said that, I’m excitedly looking forward for the next weeks. We have a great catering of awesome actors, action, some nice gory moments, visual- and special effects and much more. It’s going to be an awesome trip, can’t wait to tell you what it is actually we are working on (but won’t just yet!)

Waiting for the first day.

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Day 51: Welcome To The Overlook Hotel!


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Last week, we shot and wrapped the shoot of the first segment of the film in Louisiana. As it so often happens, much of what we had prepped had to go out of the window in the last moments, when there turned out to be a major communication mishap with the road closures, and all the shots we were planning to shoot during the three days had to be re-thought. Luckily, though, we did manage to do the road closure for one of the days, meaning we could pull off some of the more challenging stunts.

All turned out well, though, in the end. The cast I got to work with were just phenomenal, and I was very happy with my team. We canned ten pages of footage, including complicated stunts, studio and on-location shoot in three days and got what we wanted, so it was all pretty much a slam dunk!

Still inside the bubble, we threw a nice wrap party including a LOT of karaoke at Mackie’s, followed by late-night sit-together at the yard drinking red wine and whiskey and listening to some great tunes with the team. But like it always is, all good things come to an end, and eventually I had to stumble to my bed and call it a night.

Post-shoot Rhapsody

Afterwards, we spent several days at the studios, first recovering from the wrath of the wrap party, then by shooting some more. We went out did some drone- and GoPro shots we had missed during the principal photography, and then I was whisked over to Texas, to spend night at Jamie’s place in Houston, to make it an easy one to catch the next day’s flight (and to get out of the way of yet another hurricane that was approaching).

One more shot with a much smaller camera!

Houston to London was a direct flight, quite an easy one, and after that I spent few days in London, just to catch the vibe of the city and spend some time in a nice hotel with proper breakfasts and what not. It was heaven, I tell you. I went to see a play – The Great Gatsby – shopped around for a bit and had few great dinners and enjoyed a nice bunch of pubs, catching up with some friends, just before learning another lockdown is going to come to UK the next week. This means, all the pubs, restaurants and the likes will be closed for one month. This is not going to make our time easier making this movie, but as we survived the Covid Bubble in Lousiana, I know we’ll soldier through this one, too.

Today, I was picked up from the hotel and taken to where I would spend the next couple of months. I call this place The Overlook Hotel from The Shining. It’s a huge, empty mansion. There’s no staff here, only us, the film crew residing in big, beautiful rooms, enjoying the huge empty hallways, drawing rooms and endless miles this estate stretches on. And we are the only ones here. Definitely has some very creepy horror film vibes here…

Well, now off to bed. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Day 38: Life In The Bubble


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We are all living in a bubble now. Last week, we went over and did Covid-19 -tests to all of the crew at the production offices (all tested negative, thankfully!), after which the bubble was closed. We are not to leave anywhere where there are other people, and nobody from outside the bubble is allowed to enter. All food and grocery runs are done by a runner who handles everything specifically clear, masked and obeying the social distancing rules to make sure the risk of getting infected runs as low as humanely possible.

Producers and crew chatting on the yard.

Also, we have indeed started to crew up. The first AD arrived last week’s Monday, after which everything started to become more and more real. Schedules, planned meetings and crew lists started to fly around. On Wednesday, the director of photography arrived, making things even more clear. I finished storyboarding our first bit to shoot here, and ever since that, we’ve been running around looking for locations (luckily, which require meeting no people), getting the camera gear and all that. And finally, on Friday we closed the first cast members – and I must say, I’m really excited to get to work with these people, as I’m a big fan of both of theirs.

Other than that, life here at Village Studios has been quite, well, small and closed. Days we spend either at location scouts or at the office, working on shooting plans and by evening, we gather up at Mackie’s, the in-studio bar that’s offering drinks and entertainment. Some nights, it’s a movie night – last night we watched Predator – other nights, we have few drinks, sing karaoke and shoot shit with the awesome bartender John, who has stories that make your ears drop off.

Mackie’s
John the bartender
Your’s, truly.

Sometimes, we gather at the porch of the Hearsey House, one of the houses and do some grilling and listening to music. If it’s a week day, we may stay up for a bit, but hit the sack after a while – on weekends, the sit-downs tend to drag longer and whether it’s politics, religion or film business, there’s quite a lot to chat about.

Sometimes, I just walk outside of my little house and sit on the porch enjoying the warm night breeze that’s blowing between the units and look up at the starlit sky. There’s very little light pollution here, so the stars can be very bright – and the brightest of them all is Mars, shining clear and reddish in the sky. Sitting there, I can’t help but think how happy I can be to be working in this business, doing films and getting to see places and meet people who I would never normally cross paths with.

But, all things move towards the fact that one day, the blissful prep is over and we move to shoot this movie. The time is closing: our first shooting day is on Friday, after which it’s time to rock. There’s still quite a bit of unfinished things that need to get done for the shoot to begin, but we’re getting there – so I’m pretty confident it’ll be quite a show. Well, at least the crew seems phenomenal, the cast will be amazing and the script really works.

Now, crossing fingers all goes smoothly to the end, nobody gets sick and we get the thing done!

PS. There’s this one thing I was thinking whether or not I should bring up here, as it’s not related in any way to the film I’m working on here, but I think it’s pretty timely, so I might as well write few words about it. The production company of Iron Sky, called Iron Sky Universe, one which I jointly set up with Tero, is going under. At least, there’s a high potential for it to happen, as a bankruptcy filing has been done on the company – obviously, we are trying to find solutions to prevent it from happening.

This is of course heartbreaking for me, as I believed in the company and hoped it would get past the rough times but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. We spent several years with Tero building it as an entity to handle the Iron Sky franchise, but now it seems it’s going to need a different approach. Iron Sky has played a huge part in my life for the last 15+ years, so it would be a very disappointing to see it all go to waste, especially after all the effort we built into it, both financial and creative – me, Tero and the Iron Sky fans who are also minority shareholders in the business.

Obviously, of course, the films still exist, and the fandom still exists, so the stories we have planned for Iron Sky can and will continue, we just don’t necessarily know in what exact shape. There’s still possibilities to save the company, which of course would be ideal, and that’s what we’re hoping for. If this doesn’t happen, well, there are always other options – partnering up with some other entity being one of them.

So, it’s not the end of the world but simultaneously, not what I was hoping this year to bring to Iron Sky.

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Day 29: In The Eye Of The Storm


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There’s something humbling sitting outside on a porch, watching as wind tears off pieces of the adjacent apartment’s tin roof, throwing them all over the yard. Hurricane Delta struck yesterday here at Village Studios, hard. We started the evening off by watching a horror film at the studio’s barn-like bar, which is a perfect place for a horror film, especially with the added sound effects of roaring wind and ear-shattering rain outside. Added to that, the electricity went out every 10-15 minutes, leaving us in pitch black – and often in a perfect sync with whatever jump scare the film was about to throw us.

Creepy Green Light

Afterwards, I went to my room and then, boom. The electricity went out for good. A bit later, Internet followed. We gathered outside at the next door porch and sat there with some of the studio folk, having a splash of whiskey and just staring as the hurricane showed its’ strength at us. First, it was just rain, then the wind started to blow really hard, thrashing the yard and the trees around wickedly. Then, somewhere in the distance apparently a transformer blew, lighting the otherwise pitch black skyline in electric blue and green.

Now there’s few reasons I’m not super comfortable with losing electricity here. First is, of course, that then we’re out of means to communicate. Cell phones would die eventually. But not only that, there’s also a big prison just next door, which is also the reason the roadsides are dotted with “Don’t Pick Up Hitchhikers” -signs.

After a while of us out there, I decided to call it a night. The hurricane was still in full blow outside, and even crossing the yard was quite a challenge, but once I hit the bed, the pattering of the rain lulled me into a deep sleep full of disturbing dreams I had to pull myself awake from.

In the morning, the power hadn’t come up yet, although the hurricane had passed. I spent the day in the soft post-hurricane breeze outside, watching the roof pieces on the ground and reading Dune. Afternoon came and went, still no power. It took us all the way until nightfall until finally we got connected to the grid, leading to my phone blowing up with tons of messages and emails. But before that, being totally off the grid, literally, it was peaceful.

PS. I had a fun moment in the evening. I was watching a movie in my room when I heard some rattling, and happened to glance just the right time, seeing something small run under the fridge. It came out a bit later and yeah, it was a small, grey mouse. It must’ve gotten in during the day when I had kept the doors open as no air conditioners were functional, and now it was scared, trying to find its way back out.

I asked the studio folk what should I do. I mean, it’s just a mouse, but I’m no mouse catcher and was afraid it would turn into a Mr. Bean episode with me running around this small mouse in the apartment, but fear not, studios’ mouse patrol was on its’ feet. Five minutes later, I got a knock on the door and opened it. The two guys were standing out there, huge machete knives in their hands and two huge dogs with them. I couldn’t help but laugh, this tiny rodent and these two guys standing there, menacingly. I tried to say they shouldn’t kill it, and luckily, it wasn’t their plan. They also had one of those metallic dog poo pickers, and after a while of rattling my fridge, the dead-scared mouse ran out. They managed to clip it with the poo picker and took it outside, where it was set free.

All in all, it was my first hurricane experience. Yeah, it was a bit scary, but hanging out with good buddies, I’m not surprised people around here throw hurricane parties whenever the thing hits.

Jeepers Creepers: Reborn

Day 25: Storm Is Coming


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Today I heard yet another hurricane is forming up at the Gulf of Mexico and headed towards us. Well, “us” might be a bit of an exaggeration, since we are quite far up north in Louisiana, but the predictions are saying that it might reach up to hear as well – if nothing else, rains and crazy winds should show up some time tomorrow. If worse comes to worst, we might have to shelter ourselves for a bit, as it’s always possible wind throws something unwanted in the air, but usually the destruction up here in Jackson, Louisiana, is minimal – at least compared to New Orleans.

Speaking of which, I visited New Orleans during the weekend. Our trip consisted of both scouting and a bit of vibe-catching, as well as of some chilling and relaxing. Located about two hour drive south-southwest from where we are, one can’t help but fall in love with the slightly scruffy nature of Louisiana, still all green and weather pitch perfect with sun – but worst moisture has already given way for the upcoming winter.

The city itself is beyond beautiful. Formed in the 1700’s and brought to history books by its’ both dark and illustrious history of slavery and commerce, New Orleans is also known as a birthplace of some of the most important music in Western world: jazz and blues. The city has been torn apart time and again by hurricanes – latest total devastation was Katrina just under ten years ago – but it has managed to keep its’ stunning beauty, culture and spirit alive.

Now, another hurricane has swept across its’ streets, pandemic called Covid-19. This one has left the city’s businesses in pretty sad state, with many of them closed and those still operating, operating only at 20% capacity. But the flow of tourists hasn’t stopped, and while the otherwise packed streets are now delightfully easy to navigate, thousands of people do gather in the weekends to listen to some of the best street musicians anywhere, enjoy Hurricanes (local strong drink) and many of city’s nice little bars.

And yeah, just like everywhere, while daytime people wear their masks nicely, by the time the sun sets over Bourbon Street, those nuisances come off especially on young folk and partying begins. This is one of the reasons Louisiana does have quite big spike in Covid infections.

Our task was to visit local Voodoo shops to get an idea of how they are in this area, as I had never been in one. Voodoo is here taken semi seriously, and while the stores are touristy trinket joints, there is a certain, eerie aura behind it all, one you want to respect, no matter if you believe in stuff like this or not. We did leave cigarettes and coins to Baron Samedi’s altar and refrained from rattling the spirits that still roam in the streets and swamps in and around the city.

I found myself eventually sitting down with our team and enjoying a beer, some fried alligator and a po-boy (local kind of bread), basking in sunlight and listening to smooth jazz notes bouncing up and down the mildly crowded streets. The team was buzzing on about production stuff, but I zoned out, for a moment taking in the fact that the job I’m doing, making movies for international audiences, can be sometimes just pretty damn awesome, and I’m not ashamed of saying that.

We enjoyed our stay there so much we decided to book hotel rooms and stay overnight, and do some shopping the day after. By nightfall, streets were flooded with freaks of every size and shape you can imagine, artists, teenage drunks and party-goers, but we (wisely, I think) decided to avoid the crowded places, but found a nice bourbon-and-cigar -type of bar close by. There, one of our producer’s business partners told us the most amazing stories from his times in Syrian and Russian special forces, climbing Mount Everest and living quite an extraordinary life, finally finding his way to USA and making it his home.

It was a privilege to see the beautiful city of New Orleans and I am coming back with my wife one day to show her this unbelievable gem of a city one day.

While storm of one type might be falling on land in Louisiana soon, another one is to follow, and that’s the one I’m more worried of. Obviously, I’m talking about the upcoming presidential elections. The tension is in the air, there’s no question about it. I spent the other night listening to a Trump supporter going on about his views on Black Lives Matter and “the left” (whatever that means here in USA anyway…). I wasn’t feeling like an argument so I rather nodded my way through it, making mental notes for further writings, but you could find yourself in a very heated discussion if you wished so very easily over here.

Still, what really worries me are the most religious and fanatical lonely Internet message board neo-nazis who will wake up on 4th of November to a four-year season with Democratic president. Yes, I strongly believe that the country is just fed up with the chaos Trump is causing and that there’s only one possible outcome of the elections. It’s clear Trump won’t go down without a fight, and I’m a bit concerned whether or not the basement-Bubbas are going to just let go easily, especially knowing their access to heavy armament if needed. Whatever is happening after the elections, one thing is clear: this nation is divided beyond easy repair, and needs a long line of wise bi-partisan leaders to steer it back to the greatness it once was.

Production-wise, we are moving swiftly towards the first block of shootings. There’s still quite a lot to be done, but I’ve already started scribbling my storyboards and we have a script everyone’s happy about, so in that sense it’s a relief. The way this film is produced between USA and UK is a bit of a juggle, and I’ll tell you about it one day as the coast is clear, but for now, it’s looking pretty good we’ll get cameras rolling in about two weeks. Everything Covid-related has been settled, which has been one of the biggest struggles from the beginning, and here’s hoping no dramatic, earth-shaking surprises are lurking around the corners.

Anyway, y’all stay healthy and in good spirits, while we can see storm clouds gathering, or more precisely, we might feel we are already in the eye of the storm, a new day will soon shine!