Life

Going Places, Life

Welcome To The Fall


No Comments

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!

Life, Opinions

Filmmaking during the COVID-19 era


No Comments

One year ago today Covid-19 shut down Finland for the first time, as part of the worldwide lockdown of the spring of 2020. Covid-19 had been around a bit longer, but it took a while to land to Europe and USA. For a while, we thought we got away from it, but now, one year later, as the Covid-19 -situation is again worsening in Finland, while getting better in some other places, I thought it was time to write – maybe if for no other purpose than historical record for myself – about the filming process during the Covid era, and why I believe it’s important we keep on doing it.

As anyone who has ever seen one behind the scenes picture from a film set knows, films are made in close proximity to tens, sometimes hundreds, even up to thousands of people. Depending on the production, filming may take place outside, in a big studio, or in very cramped spaces, like in small sets or inside a vehicle. But one thing that’s always present in every film set is the constant hurry. No matter how much resources you have, you’re always running out of time.

A set in China

Now, filmmaking is not easy. Actually, it’s a pretty damn complicated process, just to get a bunch of moving images out there. In order to get a shot that makes its’ way to the cut, a lot of things need to be perfect: performance, lighting, sound, camera movement, focus, continuity, VFX markers, special effects like blood, smoke and so forth… To get it all exactly right, you have to shoot each shot at least three times, maybe five, sometimes up to ten – and beyond (Most I’ve shot is around 20 to 30 takes, some directors can hit way above 150 takes). It’s a painstaking process which’s only goal is to hide the process from the viewer’s eye, so that they can experience the story in its’ fullest.

Added to this nowadays is the extra layer of Covid-19, which basically dictates that you shouldn’t be close to each other, in a closed space, refrain from touching or even walking near each other, masked up. It’s a huge ask to an already stretched-out machine to observe and adhere to, but it is also the new normal. I don’t think we’ll be out of Covid-19 any time soon, maybe never. This is what our future looks like, and we can either try to dismiss it, or adjust to it and master it completely. No miracle vaccine is gonna march in and make things like they were just under two years ago – vaccines will make this more bearable and more contained, but they won’t make the virus disappear.

Filmmaking in Covid-19 era brings about challenges that one wouldn’t have guessed few years ago. Masked-up crews, weekly (or daily!) Covid-tests and the constant fear of being shut down for days, even weeks.

Testing is obviously the key to anything: nobody should enter the set untested, and tests should happen at least once a week. As you can imagine, this is both slow and quite an expensive process. I don’t have figures, but one can only guess how much it will cost to do a medical test on hundreds of people on weekly basis, administered by medical professionals. Luckily, testing is nowadays quite rapid – the new tests allow batches of tens of samples being processed simultaneously, and results come in one hour time, possibly even faster. This of course means the whole crew needs to allow being swabbed quite often, which is at first quite uncomfortable, but over time, gets not one iota more comfortable. But it is what it is. One thing, though, is quite clear: Covid-19 -deniers and non-maskers will have to start looking for other avenues of work, as their entrance to film set is nearly impossible these days. Not to say they’d be missed, too.

Masks are, of course, a mandatory part of any future film sets. The rules are simple: wear mask, all the time, everywhere. The only people excluded from this are actors when they are on set. The reason is obvious, their faces will be constantly on camera and makeup, which can be smudged under the mask, is essential part of any actor’s outfit. But anyone else is required to wear the mask – including, but not limiting to, director and director of photography.

For a director, the mask requirement can be quite a hinderance. Our job is to try to communicate our thoughts, visions and directions to a crew of hundreds of people. Because everyone is constantly in such a hurry, precision is the key for running a good film set and DP and Director are the ones who everyone looks at in order to know what’s happening and how it should be done. Humans rely on facial expressions as much as they do on words, and suddenly, half of director’s face is cut out and words are muffled, making everything much more complicated to communicate, more susceptible to errors and misunderstandings. Added to that working in different languages, masks add a layer of confusion on top of already confusing environment – but nothing we wouldn’t get used to. I worked for quite a long time in China, where masks have been in daily use for years, and things work very well over there – it’s just a hurdle we have to get used to.

Masks were already a mandatory part of shooting gear in China in 2018, and nowadays, everywhere.

Social distancing is a much more complicated issue because many operations on film set require constant collaboration. From electricians to camera crew, set builders to makeup, stunts to special effects teams, it’s physical work that can’t always be done the required social distancing in mind, for safety’s sake. Not only that, but shooting spaces simply won’t allow that in some cases – say, a car requires camera and sound crew in a small space, nothing to be done to it. A makeup can’t be applied from 2 meters away. Pushing a dolly requires two bodies, a stunt wire two to three to hold it securely. But even given that a pass for safety’s sake, just sitting by the monitors and staring at performances requires people breathing down each other’s necks to see every detail being right. Tom Cruise called out two crew member doing exactly that, staring at monitors while under 2 meters apart from each other, and this bred a famous catch phrase in film industry – “gold standard”. It’s nearly impossible to reach, but the more we work together, understand the situation and adhere to rules, the closer to gold standard we can get.

Another thing familiar from my experience in China is the accommodations. The filmmakers are often booked for a certain period of time and housed in same lodging, no matter if they shoot in their home town or not. This is becoming more norm nowadays all over the world as well – they call it “bubbling up” these days, and the idea is to create a working and lodging arrangement that offers as little as possible of outside contacts, with the idea that only tested crew- and cast members socialize with each other, and all contacts to outside is handled with as little exposure as possible. This creates a strange new tension and feeling of unity within crews, as suddenly you are on a mission with a bunch of people, in a closed environment for quite a long time, stranded from contacts to the outside world. You can’t go to a pub, or to a restaurant, or to see a movie or in the worst cases, even to take a walk outside, you are living in a bubble with a bunch of people, almost like on a Mars mission that can take months, and you just have to get along with each other. This will also create issues for the most anti-social ones, as in the most tightest bubbles you are not allowed to have any kind of an exhaust valve to the outside world. It’s no wonder people train years for the upcoming Mars missions living underwater or in the desert among a small group of people…

The biggest fear is, of course, is if the production gets shut down. There have been cases all over the world where this has happened, some have recovered from it, some haven’t. It all begins with a singular exposure to someone who’s shown to be ill. First, you have to make sure if it’s an actual positive, or a false positive, which can happen quite easily. To my understanding, anything as small as eating a menthol candy can mess up the results and it comes back as “inconclusive” – but even that would mean a catastrophe for a production. An “inconclusive” means the production needs to figure out who this person is, who he or she has been in touch with, and then isolate everyone who’s been in contact with the one giving the inconclusive results. It may mean, in the best case scenario, that only a few people get sent back to lodging, followed by another test which hopefully comes back negative – but in the worst case scenario, it may mean that it’s impossible to continue until the situation has been solved. Shutting down even for a day in a big production can be devastatingly expensive – and usually, there’s no extra days lingering in the schedule to be used as contingency for Covid shutdowns, so one just needs to re-build and re-schedule according to that. That is, if the production even is able to continue: depending on the level of exposure and the rules that are applied, it might mean 10 days quarantine for the whole crew, which, obviously, is a real show-stopper.

There’s obviously also the insurance side of everything, as well, but I’ve (thankfully) never had to deal with that, so I can’t really talk about that, but I’m sure that’s another thing producers are getting gray hairs over. Not to mention the rest of the issues coming up during marketing and distribution; film theatres are still closed, film festivals are non-existent and even the biggest of productions find their way straight to digital, which is only half the experience, and for sure, half the income.

But, it’s good to remember, we are on the early days of the way things are going to be. It’s going to be tumultuous few years, that’s for sure, as everyone learns the new rules of the game, but only by doing it as good as one can, we’ll learn to be even better at it.

The last question remains, should we even do films in these trying times? Why risk so much for just a few hours of entertainment, shouldn’t we just lay low and wait for this to blow over?

I claim what we do is essential. Right now, Finland is closing up again; the restaurants are shut, the gyms and places to do sports are going to be shut down. Film theatres, stage theatres and all live music venues are shut down. We are not allowed to meet anyone physically. Someplace else things are opening back up, but I’m a pessimist by nature and don’t believe Covid is anywhere near over. But if you look at the suddenly much smaller, much more duller and less inspiring world around us, there’s honestly not a lot left to do to relax but watch films on streaming sites. I don’t claim we are essential workers in the same way as the frontline medical staff, doctors and nurses, or teachers, police and store workers are, the ones who put their lives on the line every day, risking hundreds or even thousands of contacts on a daily basis to keep our society running – no, we are not that essential. But what we do, the entertainment we provide, the culture we carry on, especially now that much of other places and means of culture to exist are down, is essential. In these drab, dire times we do need an escape from these four walls crashing around us, an exhaust valve of emotions, shared experiences, even though digital ones and films and TV can help in their own little way to get over this crisis, or at least, to find solutions around it.

PS. From a filmmaker point of view, I believe what we do is essential. But none more essential that what say, musicians, stage actors or entertainers do – the only difference is that films can offer an experience with rather controlled risks. By carefully planning the production and distributing digitally is way lower risk than packing hundreds, or thousands of people into one space, night after night, to view a live concert or a theatre show, it’s just the unfortunate fact and the way it is – the virus spreads from person to person through physical contact – mostly aerosols in the air. All arts are taking a heavy hit, probably none harder than music industry; selling records haven’t provided musicians in years, and now that live shows are off the table, it’s impossible to understand how the branch of arts which I love the most, even more than movies, can survive. I don’t know, but I think those who are able to, should support their local musicians and stage actors. Go buy your favorite band’s latest album online, or get it from a store – if for nothing else, to support. Go book a ticket for an online theatre – I watched, and happily paid $25 for it, David Bowie’s “Lazarus” theatre performance, and enjoyed it thoroughly. It may not be the same as sitting there in the audience, but also us, the audience, need to come forward and be more lenient to the artists trying to support their craft. I’m always shaking my head at the latest TV “musicians doing shit together” -formats, but even those provide at least some income to the stranded artits. I’m sure Jay Z is going to do fine, and Kanye isn’t going to end destitute, but your local punk band might. Think small, and support the artists you dig, if you are able to. It’s gonna mean a lot, so that we still have music and theatre when we eventually emerge out of this Covid hellhole, in whatever shape and form it might be.

Life, Opinions

Etäopetus – digiloikka tuntemattomaan


No Comments

Meidän kaikkien elämä on mullistunut Covid-19 -kriisin myötä, mutta keidenkään tuskin niin paljon kuin koululaisten. Etäopetuksesta on tullut perheiden jokapäiväistä arkea ja siihen jokaisella on hyvin vaihtelevat valmiudet – sekä oppilaina että vanhempina. Itselläni kotona on tällä hetkellä kaksi kouluikäistä, toinen ala- ja toinen ylä-, joten pääsen näkemään läheltä kaksi hyvin erilaista maailmaa.

Perheessämme alakoululainen – viidesluokkalainen – on velvoitettu osallistumaan työpäivässä yhden tunnin ajan aamupalan jälkeen etäopetustuntiin, jossa opettaja antaa pienen määrän tehtäviä joita sitten tulisi pyrkiä suorittamaan päivän mittaan. Samaan aikaan kasiluokkalainen istuu aamu puoli yhdeksästä kolmeen joka päivä läpi loputtomat oppitunnit josta jokaisesta tulee liuta tehtäviä jotka pitäisi omaehtoisesti suorittaa päivän mittaan ja jos näin ei tee, merkinnät tulevat koulun kirjoihin. Tehtävät on myös mitotettu usein niin, että niitä on mahdoton saada tehtyä suunnitellun tunnin aikana, etenkään jos kyse on yhtään hitaampitahtisesta opiskelusta, kunnes seuraava Teams-tunti painaa jo päälle. Lopputuloksena on päivän mittaan kasautuvia sälätehtäviä päivän päätteeksi joita sitten yritetään tehdä koulun ja kokeisiinluvun ohessa. Nyt emme siis puhu lukiolaisesta vaan kahdeksasluokkalaisesta. Paine ja kiire on uskomaton, koneen edessä istuu päivä toisensa jälkeen pahemmin uupuva esiteini jolta odotetaan yllättäen ennennäkemätön määrä oma-aloitteisuutta, itseohjautuvuutta ja teknista osaamista. Tämän lisäksi opetuksessa käytetään vähän erilaisia metodeja: joskus tehtävät löytyvät Teamsin Assignments-osiosta, toisinaan Helmi/Vilma/mitänäitänyton-järjestelmistä, toisinaan Teams-keskusteluista viesteinä. Yritäpä siinä sitten vanhempana pysyä mukana, miksi poissaolo- ja palauttajättämisilmoituksia kilahtelee Helmiin kun lapsellakaan ei ole mitään käsitystä mitä pitäisi tehdä. Itse olen istunut useamman tunnin käymällä läpi Teams-keskusteluja salapoliisimaisesti yrittäen tulkita eri kommenteista, onko mahdollisesti nyt annettu suullinen tehtävä, onko tämä viesti jotain, mitä on pitänyt tehdä tunnilla vai tunnin jälkeen, vai löytyykö jotain kenties Assignmentseista.

IMG_20200427_120957
Etäopiskelua

Vanhemmille tämä aika ei ole sen helpompaa. Oppilaalta odotettu itseohjautuvaisuus on iso haaste myös kotona; työpäivän aikana ja sen päätteeksi pitäisi kyetä seuraamaan onko lapsi käynyt koulunsa ja tehnyt tehtävänsä, auttaa tehtävissä joihin ei ole mitään kosketusta vuosikymmeniin (itse sain eilen palautella hypotenuusia, kateetteja ja piiärkakkosia päähäni) sillä mahdollisuus opelta nopeasti kysymiseen on vaikeaa, etätunneilla kyssäreiden esittäminen varattu vain aktiivisimmille ja ekstroverteimmille, tukiopetusta on saatavilla vain satunnaisesti.

Etäopiskelu paljastaa koulutusjärjestelmämme nurjan puolen – survival of the fittest nousee pintaan ennennäkemättömällä tavalla. Luokan parhaat ovat äänessä jatkuvasti, hiljaisemmat syrjäytyvät entisestään, hitaammat hautautuvat työvuoren. Ainoa oljenkorsi on vanhempien apu joka vaihtelee kuin yö ja päivä kotien ja tilanteiden mukaan: yläkoululaisten käsittelemät asiat, kuten matematiikka, fysiikka, kemia ja ruotsi ovat saattaneet loistaa poissaolollaan elämästämme niin pitkään että olemme aivan yhtä avuttomia niiden edessä kuin kelkasta hetkeksi pudonnut oppilas. Muuta ei voi tehdä kuin yrittää räpistellä takaisin mukaan, mutta helppoa se ei ole.

Keskustelin oman yläkoululaiseni kanssa – hänelle etäkoulun hyvinä puolina on se, ettei tarvitse lähteä päivittäin minnekään vaan opiskelu tapahtuu keskitetysti ja helposti kotikoneelta. Ei tarvitse herätä liian aikaisin vaan aamupalaan menee vain hetki, jonka jälkeen onkin jo koulun penkillä. Kurjina puolina hän mainitsi kuitenkin kavereiden puutteen, liikkumattomuuden ja sen, että tehtäviä tulee aivan älyttömiä määriä verrattuna käytettävissä olevaan aikaan. Tämän lisäksi olen seurannut digiteknologian käytön haasteita – videoiden siirtäminen puhelimelta koneelle ei ole ihan iisiä, ohjelmat eivät ole itsestäänselvästi käyttäjäystävällisiä ja aikaa kuluu pelkkään tekniseen kikkailuun koulutyön ohella.

Yksittäisiä oppilaista suuremmassa kriisissä on kuitenkin koko koulutusjärjestelmämme.  Suomi, koulutuksen kärkimaa, ei ole kyennyt tekemään digiloikkaansa suinkaan niin sujuvasti kuin ajatella voisi – olemmehan myös teknologiakehityksen huippumaa! Siltikin, käytettävät työkalut ja työtavat ovat kankeita, vaatimustasot vaihtelevat valtavasti ja toteutus riippuu täysin opettajan halusta tehdä oma henkilökohtainen digiloikkansa ja tietenkin hänen viitseliäisyydestä. Osa opettajista haluaa pitää tuntinsa videona etätuntina, toiset lähettävät jossain tunnin vaiheessa ison kasan luettavaa ja tehtäviä juuri sen enempää oppilaita kohtaamatta.

Mihin sitten tätä digiloikkaa ollaan tekemässä? Onko edessä tulevaisuus, jossa pandemioista huolimatta koulutuksesta osa siirtyy etätyöskentelyyn isommissa määrin? Vai palataanko takaisin koulun penkeille samalla mallilla kuin aikaisemmin? Kummassakin on puolensa mutta selvää on, että tulevaisuus tulee olemaan digitaalisempaa, mutta mikä seuraava askelmerkki tässä digiloikassa – ei, vaan kolmiloikassa – on?

Selvää on, että järjestelmämme ei ole valmistautunut tähän vaikka tekninen puoli ja osaaminenkin siihen riittäisi. Tärkeintä olisi yhtenäisen järjestelmän rakentaminen, opettajien kouluttaminen, digikouluavustajien palkkaaminen ja myös laitteiden hankkiminen ja toimittaminen opiskelijoille. Puhelin ei ole digietäopetuksen työkalu mutta perheemme alakoululaisella ei ole läppäriä hankittuna, näinollen toimittajavaimoni, jolle läppäri on elintärkeä työkalu, joutuu aikatauluttamaan omat työnsä niin, että läppäriä voidaan jakaa. Entä miten tämä toimii perheessä, jossa ei ole teknologiaa senkään vertaa? Entä jos lapsia on enemmän tai tilaa vähemmän?

Paljon on ollut puhetta varmuusvarastoista mutta näköjään opetukseen, koko yhteiskunnan yhteen merkittävimmistä tukipilareista, ei ole tehty minkäänlaista varmuusvarastoa tai varmuusvarasuunnitelmaa. Näiden kehittämisen soisin näkevän tiensä hallituksen suunnitelmiin sillä varmaa on, että Covid-19 ei tule jäämään viimeiseksi elinaikanamme kokemaksemme pandemiaksi.

Nyt pohditaan, avataanko koulut vielä pariksi viime viikoksi ennen kesälomia ja jos, niin keille. Itse en toivo että koulut aukeavat, ainakaan yhtään laajemmin kuin tällä hetkellä. Kansanterveydellisesti uskon, että koronasta olisi hyvä päästä kunnolla niskan päälle edes niin, että ymmärtäisimme mistä tässä sairaudessa on kyse ja miten sitä voidaan hoitaa. Tällä hetkellä sairaus on hoitamaton, jonka vaikean muodon ainoa selviämiskeino on pitää sairastuneet teholla ja kiinni koneissa ja toivoa, että kyetään pumppaamaan tarpeeksi happea keuhkoihin että hengissä pysytään yli pahimman. Emme ymmärrä edes sairauden tartuntamekaniikkaa ja vielä vähemmän sitä, miksi se on tappava joillakin, toisilla taas ei. Lapset eivät eräiden havaintojen mukaan levitä tautia yhtä pahasti kuin vanhemmat ihmiset, mutta esimerkiksi täällä Lauttasaaressa, jossa pandemia sairastutti ensimmäisinä alueina ison määrän ihmisiä tauti lähti liikkeelle ala-asteelta – emme siis ymmärrä tätäkään mekanismia juurikaan.

Koulujen aukaiseminen tässä vaiheessa altistaisi niin lapset kuin perheetkin oudolle ihmiskokeelle jossa voittajina olisivat lähinnä stressaantuneet vanhemmat. Opinnollisesti tämän lukukauden tuho on jo tehty ja pelkään, että numeroita saadakseen opettajat lataisivat oppilaille lähinnä ison kasan kokeita räkyiltäväksi loppulukukaudeksi ja valitettavasti etenkin ysiluokkalaisille niistä selviäminen ei ole vain tärkeää vaan koko elämän määrittelevää pakertamista: lukio vai ammattikoulu, siinä on yksi yhteiskuntamme merkittävimmistä ja ensimmäisistä päätöksistä joihin voimme vaikuttaa.

Tämän sukupolven lasten ponnistuksen pituus ja se, mihin se riittää, riippuu nyt hallituksen päätöksistä, koulutusjärjestelmän muuntautumiskyvystä, opettajien suhtautumisesta, vanhempien viitseliäisyydestä ja siitä, mitä ratkaisuja olemme valmiita tekemään tulevaisuudessa – ja kaikista vähiten, valitettavasti, lapsista itseistään, joista valitettavan iso osa jää kärsijän rooliin.

Käsi nousee lippaan sairaanhoitajia ja lääkäreitä, kaupan ja apteekin työntekijöitä ja muiden välttämättömien alojen tukipilareita ajatellessamme mutta otetaanpa siihen joukkoon myös opettajat jotka yrittävät rempoa tässä sekamelskassa eteenpäin niin, ettei meille tulisi kymmenen vuoden kuluttua kouluttautumattomien ja syrjäytyneiden sukupolvi vaan että jokainen lapsi löytäisi mahdollisuutensa ja pystyisi toteuttamaan itseään parhaalla ja monimuotoisimmalla tavalla.

 

Life

Lockdown Life


No Comments

Lockdown and social distancing continues here in Helsinki and all over the world. Now that my business with the marketing company wrapped, I’ve dug out the pile of scripts I’ve been working on and started to set some goals, deadlines and making some work plans on how to get them finished. Because, well, there’s nothing else there to do. Of course, I’ve applied for grants, temporary government and other organization “quick help” funds to help my family ride through the shitstorm that’s COVID-19, but we are looking at some pretty grim times ahead, I can tell that already.

Yet, it’s funny to see how, once you start setting up your day based on all the work that kinda needs to be done but nobody’s paying for it, the calendar starts filling up, and quickly. It’s probably in some way nice, people really *want* my time, only, nobody’s really willing (or able) to pay for it. Ahh, being an independent artist truly has its’ perks! But simultaneously, being able to set my mind on projects I actually am feeling enthusiastic about, one can’t put a price on that. Well, one should, but I was never the money guy anyway, right?

Ah well. When looking it from this perspective, it kinda looks all a bit depressing, but at the same time, at least I have this special position of being able to do movies, which gives me kind of a never-ending well of possible work to be done, which may or may not turn into something actual one day. If I was to work for somebody else, or at a service industry, I’d just have to sit at home and hope this all blows over. So yeah, at least I’m keeping myself busy, although it might be currently more like fighting the windmills.

One way I’m keeping busy is a documentary I’ve been producing with Tero. It’d directed by Tuomas Tuppurainen, our trusty in-house editor slash graphics guy slash director slash quite a lot of other things – a Swiss army knife on two legs, practically. The story is that Tero told him a few years back to start going through all the material we’ve been filming and putting it together into a documentary and as he started doing that, the story started to come clearer: it’s not a documentary about filmmaking as much as it actually is a doc about being an entrepreneur in this crazy business. Tero rose out to be the central figure of the story and it’s quite an honest and straight-shooting documentary, unlike many making-of -docs and the sorts tend to be. Remains to be seen what people dig of it, but I personally find it actually quite great. We’re putting it out on Friday this week, the trailer is here:

Anyway, I’m keeping my spirits up. I’ve been doing this 100 Days of Horror -thing on my YouTube channel, where I set myself on a journey to watch 100 horror films during the quarantine proceedings. First 8 or something is done, but I found watching a film a day rather taxing, and instead of being too religious on this one, I allow myself a few episodes of The Wire now and then, and few days off, too. But anyway, that’s a good way to keep myself using the time I’m not doing anything else by watching films I should’ve seen a long time ago.

I’m also catching up with reading. Currently, my Kindle is loaded with a lot of stuff, but the one I’m digging into the history of Soviet Union, having just finished One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, a fictitious but very detailed account on a day of gulag prisoner’s life, and am currently reading Orlando Figes’ Revolutionary Russia, 1981-1991, an account on how the Soviet Union came to be and undone.

Weeks go by in lockdown mostly sitting in my son’s room that I turned now into my office, as he’s not here, then exercising and making food and watching films and TV. On weekends, we share some wine with my wife and watch movies (just ran through The Godfather trilogy) and talk about the world, our kids and our lives. We’re trying to make the best out of the time, and manage to do it rather well.

Having said that, I’m not envious of any parents who need to be home-schooling the kids, in addition to working from home. If nothing else good comes out of this Corona crisis, at least I trust the respect for school teachers, kindergarten teachers, and nurses, doctors and store personnel should go up. But who am I kidding, it’ll never do that. We’ll learn nothing out of this mess, as such is human nature.

Life

Walls Closing In


No Comments

Some companies and for example film productions here in Finland still keep operating like nothing’s different and their business is above everyone else’s safety and health, which I think kinda sucks. Everyone knows that if you stick an office full of workers on a daily basis (while the key operatives of the company are doing work from out of home in the meanwhile), or stuff 40-50 people in a hot room that’s full of camera equipment, sweat and way too little space to move about without touching each other is exactly what the government has been telling us not to do. Not everything needs to have a governmental shutdown order, we’re still free to use our own fucking heads here, people…

Anyway, I’m just ranting since I’m stuck here at home and it’s getting pretty shitty I must say. It’s the little things that start to annoy: why does that PS4 have to be so damn loud. Nope, I don’t want to do the dishes exactly now, I’ll do them when I feel like it. Nope, I don’t want to watch that show, let’s watch this movie instead. When your living environment subsides, the small things become extremely relevant, and vice versa – simultaneously, I find myself caring less and less about international politics, and more if my damn bike I just bought is gonna make it to the store before they close it, or do I have to wait for the quarantine measures to ease up to get it eventually one day – possibly not before the end of summer.

And really, it’s just been, what, two weeks? Something like that. I have to plop my head out of my ass and see the world for what it is.

IMG_20200324_144413
Greetings from the Quarantine

Life

Terve!


No Comments

When Finns greet each others, they say “terve!”. It means – “healthy”, and it’s an ages-old tradition, coming probably from “terveeksi” and “terveydeksi” – to your health! These days it means mostly “hi”, although “terve” has a bit more formal ring to it – it’s the most appropriate way to greet the older people – to wish them good health.

I think it’s quite a nice tradition, and hope that during the Corona epidemics, it would find its’ way to youth vocabulary as well, but in a statement telling your approximate health to the person you meet. So, in the future when we see each others, we say “terve” – “healthy”, claiming that we are good for approaching, shaking hand or whatever it is in the future we do when we meet each other.

Well, that’s the deepest thought I have had the entire day. Mostly, I’ve been trying to figure out my home studio setup for podcasts. Now, my son’s room is full of random video gear and I did manage to do one YouTube stream but I had no idea what it was actually doing. Luckily, some friends online told it seemed pretty fine, so my dreams of becoming the next Joe Rogan are one step closer to reality. Many more steps to follow, though.

Anyway, I’ve been healthy, been going outdoors (not among people but by myself) for walks, runs and training, which is good as it keeps the mind active and body healthy. I find myself enjoying sauna more, watching more TV, eating (and drinking) a bit more unhealthy and watching my overall state of health a bit more intensively.

IMG_20200322_142708

It’s interesting to see how the politics work these days. The opposition, who is in no kind of charge of things that are going on in the country at the moment try to seize the moment by pressing hard-line restrictions. We all know those restrictions might very well be coming, but those losers like Petteri Orpo and the True Finns party try tagging them first, and when they get implemented (after health professionals, scientists and politicians who actually make the call), they say “I’m happy they followed *my* predictions”, and after this all blows over, they’ll keep tooting their horn how they were right all along. It’s like calling “first” on comments field, and just as admirable.

 

Life

All Together Now


1 Comment

Truth is, world is changing dramatically as we speak, and decades later we who lived through this time will be scrutinized by the actions we took during the time of the crisis – and right now, best we can do is do as little as possible outside your house, preferably nothing.

After about one week in lockdown, the dullening starts to set in. The plan to work out, eat well, watch interesting movies, catch up with things I’ve missed on TV and read, read a lot, is a rather fat joke, very remotely attached to reality. Also, everything you see around you is kinda crazier than what the entertainment factory can offer – and, simultaneously, way less dramatic. Outside, the world seems like after a nuclear disaster or zombie holocaust – there’s nearly nobody anywhere, and there’s something in the air, a virus that has halted the whole world for the first time in history in this level.

I’m taking some comfort reading about the Soviet revolution in Russia. The end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the world was in turmoil. Things changed, from the perspective of someone reading it 100 years later, very fast, but probably from the point of view of those living the daily life, they – well, those who realized something was going on in the first place – probably felt the same. It’s not panic or anything spontaneous and aggressive, it’s this underlying, nauseating feeling that things are going to be pretty damn bad. I felt it first time in my life when 9/11 happened, the second time when Trump got elected, and now, even stronger.

But I’m trying to keep a level-headed approach to things. Right now, mostly everyone is. We’ll see how long they are willing to play along. But for now, my four rules are:

  1. Listen to Sanna Marin.
  2. Wash Your Hands.
  3. Go nowhere.
  4. Figure out how to make a living.

My friend Tiia even made an illustration on this:

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-21 at 12.03.39.jpeg

On the last part, I’m starting to crunch out a bunch of scripts that have been lying around and figuring out a way to fund that process. I’ve also been thinking about setting up a podcast of some kind, now that I have time. I’m not yet 100% set on what actually it should be about, but I’ve already hoarded some gear up from Verkkokauppa and Iron Sky Universe’s storage. Let’s see what’ll come out of it. Oh, and we’re putting out a pretty cool Iron Sky documentary in few weeks time, more about that later.

 

Life

What of the Children?


No Comments

Oh boy, the longer we go into the quarantine, the more the fact unfolds that we are very, very unprepared as a country, or as a society, to face the pandemic conditions. While the at-risk group, the elder folk, are the ones taking the physical brunt of the virus, the mental brunt goes to the children, who are torn off from the schools and expected to follow their curriculum at home, at their own time, guided by either the parents, or teachers over the Skype, or classmates – nobody really knows who, and as there’s no general guidelines that the schools follow. Each teacher has their own method of teaching, some share the homework at Wilma or similar school systems, some through Whatsapp, some using Teams; some prefer distance learning, some have video sessions… It’s all a big mess, and no wonder – the whole school system has had to reinvent itself in less than a week, but one thing is already clear: those who suffer, are the kids. Too much is expected of them and their parents, who are by no means teachers or have any pedagocic skills, leading to even deeper mess – and conflicts at home, too. This generation will be remembered from the fact that our kids come half a year behind everyone else, if even more.

The quarantine requirements are slowly sitting down in my head, too. While few days ago I was still defiant, ready to challenge the guidelines and thinking they really apply to the big masses, not individuals, I’m starting to realize it really means each individual. This also means, my son won’t be traveling to see me to Helsinki from Tampere any time soon most likely, which sucks big time. We do keep contact over Skype but well, it’s like I’m in China and he’s in Finland, like it used to be few years back when I was shooting The Ark.

At work, we’ve been working hard trying to find digital solutions to physical plans we have, and have succeeded with some cases. President’s words – when we distance socially, we need mental proximity more than ever – work in many levels. We humans can’t be expected to stay away from others for too long, and while we Finns are pretty well known for our preference of isolation, there’s only so long we can really practice that. Thus, we need encounters, and while we can’t have them physically, luckily we do have the Internet.

Many others have noticed this, too. All kinds of co-working space software – Teams, Skype Pro and many others – are barely holding up the traffic. Just a few months ago I hadn’t even heard of Teams, and look at it now, how important it is not just for companies doing work from home, but also to kids studying, and more.

And boy, streaming services must have their servers overloaded these days. When there’s nothing else to do, that’s where we turn to and yeah, I’ve been catching up with loads of horror films I’ve missed and TV shows I’ve neglected. Not sure what kind of world we crawl back into in a few month’s time when this all starts to (hopefully) blow over, but I’m sure we’re going to really want to meet others.

While the response to everything is pretty rigid, and some instructions from higher up are conflicting (I still don’t know can we go to gym or film theater or not, have a birthday party or not, etc.), so far I think the current government has done the right moves. Having said that, we also know that this is most likely just the beginning of the lockdown – some suggest this all is gonna take at least another 188 days before things start to ease up.

Luckily, we are living in these times, not say 25 years earlier – nowadays, we have Netflix, Internet and multiple online communication methods, 25 years ago it was nothing but MTV3 and puzzles.

IMG_20200318_161600_1
Better cut it now while they are still open; next up, YouTube how-to videos on hairdressing on the menu…

Life

The Winners of Corona


No Comments

The purpose of a company is to generate profit, year after year. But when the crisis hits, all that profit seems to evaporate in thin air – the idea, that the company would produce negative profit for a couple of months *because* the workers have done such a great job for the past years, paying back for their contribution, seems to be a completely unimaginable situation. Looking at how many companies are doing major layoffs two *days* after the prime minister called in for crisis maneuvers is ridiculous. This I understand in small companies who struggle day-by-day to get by, but sizeable airlines, state-owned railway companies, and the likes – where is that profit when it’s actually needed for the good of the workers? What Corona-virus does it exposes the ugly side of capitalism for us all to see and observe and experience.

But there are those who are winning, thanks to the virus. The obvious ones – streaming services, the company that eventually comes up with the vaccine and online gaming companies rake in the profits, but again, capitalism reels its ugly head as the bottom-feeders march to the front line.

Take quickie loan companies, for example; now, that people are getting laid off, or want to stack up, or small businesses who struggle to stay in business, – nothing easier than selling a quickie for a bunch of panicking, desperate people who’ll pay whatever interest to get by.

Or what about telemarketers? They’re in seventh heaven: working from the confines of their quarantine, one thing they can be sure of: they’ll never catch anyone at a bad time, as nobody is doing anything, nor do they ever have a lack of common topics to start off their sales pitch – the virus and the social distancing unite us. But even worse, the people are thirsty for communication, especially the elder folk, who are locked in their homes – and as we know, the elder folk are easy prey for magazine salesmen. All the old and lonely, and possibly even scared want is to talk with somebody, and boy the telemarketers take advantage of that. And after talking a couple of minutes with someone, saying “no” to a very nice offer is very hard.

But there’s also something good in it. Finland has been struggling for low birth rates, but now that the people are at home – and bored – this side of things should be fixed in say 9 month time.

IMG_20200317_154224
Greetings from the Quarantine.

isu
Iron Sky meetings look these days like this. Work from home, stay healthy, lower the curve, #socialdistancing and all that.

 

Life

[Lockdown Sequence Initiated]


No Comments

Well, things got serious really fast here in Finland. From “well, let’s just not go to China for a while” to “close the borders” in just one month – but starting Wednesday, Finland is in full lockdown mode. The borders are closed, most of the government establishments are down, recreational spaces are closed, all sports are out and any gathering of 10 or more people is forbidden. Yeah, these are very peculiar times, every time I open the newspaper website, it’s like history is being written in front of my eyes. Yet, it’s strange how human mind works: instead of people panicking and going crazy – yeah, some do, but they are still a very small percentage amongst us all – we keep it calm and carry on.

IMG_20200316_164157
The Rust of March in Lauttasaari

The prolonged lockdown, including social distancing and all the other measures that are being taken by the Finnish government do create a unique situation: instead of us being able to go bascially anywhere, we need to stay put, in our homes, go outside as little as possible and try to cope with ourselves – with our immediate family and all the demons inside our heads. Suddenly, the parents stay in, instead of heading out to work every morning; the kids stay at home, instead of going to the school, or even play with friends. Suddenly, we have to face our family, day in, day out, with nowhere to run. While hopefully for the most people, this is good news, it’s also bound to unearth some pretty nasty things, too.

For sure, each country copes differently in the face of the crisis – interestingly, Finland seems to cope by hoarding wine boxes and toilet paper. Not really sure what to think of that… But what the full lockdown means for me is more home-time, more movies (I’ve started my Horror Quarantine month, more of that later) and a lot more walking in the Lauttasaari nature, now that there’s really nowhere to go. I’m pretty lucky for living in such a beautiful plot of land – there’s a lot to explore here. Also, my gym started to post home WODs (Workout Of the Day) online, so we can keep fit without risking spreading the disease all over.

IMG_20200316_135808
Working from home, the most important thing is to choose a good outfit. I go with full-on onesie and woolen socks. Comfy, warm and you can even run to the store in it, if the need arises.