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.
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.
While the coronavirus is and will remain to be a huge, worldwide health and economics challenge, I’m also sensing a slight bit of relief from many of us churning the daily treadmill – wake up, take the kid to school, go to work, get back from the work, make dinner, take the kid to practice, go to gym, get back from the gym, make evening snack, watch Netflix, go to bed. Coronavirus breaks this rhythm up and offers a much-needed relief from all this. While we all hope this will soon blow over, I bet a lot are happy to have a chance to spend few weeks at home, with the family, without the constant pressure of the modern world that demands you to do something, whether professionally or recreationally.
I find myself suddenly taking long walks in the nature, watching a long list of films I’ve missed and writing scripts I’ve forgotten about now that there’s no office to go to, film theaters are a bit out of question, too, bars and restaurants are either closed or empty. There’s nothing anywhere, but your own circles and somehow it feels like I’ve suddenly sat down after a long walk to catch a breather.
Today we went for a long walk around Lauttasaari and the rest of the islands outside Espoo with my friend, long-time collaborator and partner-in-crime Pekka Ollula. He’s one of a kind of a guy, man who has gone through quite a lot and came back out alive. His point of view to things is always valuable to me, and I’m super happy that he now lives also close by so even during quarantine time, it’s easy to reconnect.
With Pekka, we’ve been doing quite a lot of projects together. We hired him originally to work as an intern at Energia Productions, after meeting him in Berlin when we were promoting the first Iron Sky (long before it was done, maybe in 2008), and he sort of stuck around in Iron Sky universe, working as a marketing manager, community manager and event planner throughout the years. He also created few businesses of his own, and even a film festival to Huhtamo, his home town (Huhtamo International Film Festival). We’ve been even thinking about setting up a film theater here in Lauttasaari, if only we were to find a good place, but wouldn’t that be fun! We even have a name for it – Lautta-Kino, according to the classical old cinema now long forgotten in Huittinen.
I’m currently working on four different scripts I’m hoping to produce into a movie, in addition for finishing The Ark for the Chinese release. There’s two interesting franchises I’ve been working on, both of which would turn into a great film if the stars were to align right, a script I’m developing with my wife, and two TV-shows, a sketch show and one for my German producer Oliver Damian. All this, plus I’m also reading shitload about Communism, because of the subject matter of the next Iron Sky. Still hard to predict what will move forward, and when, but now is the perfect time to push these productions forward, as there’s nothing else much to do.
Anyway, I’ll keep on blogging since I have nothing better to do, and it’s a good way to re-organize my thoughts – and probably worth something, coming back to these strange times years from now.
So, the all-out pandemic is true. Just a few weeks ago, it all felt so far away, but today, it’s quite tangible and real. Everyone takes in the situation differently, I find myself bearing this constant feeling of impending looming somewhere above me, not really scared but observing everything with a bit of a worry in my mind, probably because I’ve seen way too many zombie/pandemia scifi movies in my time.
I’m also starting to feel the impact of things to come and things that are happening around us. Personally, the company I work for now has sent everyone home to work out of office for the next two weeks. I’m doing experiential event production gig currently, and you can imagine it’s not a business that’s really taking the whole Corona too well. Many of the events we’ve been building for the last few months are cancelled, many more will be.
At home, my son’s school is also shutting the doors down – not completely, but enough so that the kids get to choose whether they study from home or show up at the school. One can imagine what the most choose – at least at this point. Few weeks at home, I think they’ll be happy getting back to civilization, though.
In my film work, the impact is quite strong. My film, the Chinese one “The Ark” has been delayed due to our VFX company not being able to work. Nowadays, they are slowly getting back to work, but it’s still far from really moving along, all the films in China have been postponed, so to even start finding a release date at this point is impossible – there’s quite a long backlog of things to release before “new” ones come out.
Another film I’m pushing to get off the ground has also been halted, the reason being that it’s impossible to get insurances to film crews and films at this point, so no films are really being shot. Netflix and Disney just shut down all their productions (hats off to Netflix for paying the crew nevertheless), and I assume quite a many films get pushed, rescheduled – and quite probably some even cancelled due to scheduling problems.
So, I’m staying home for the next two weeks. It’s great time to focus on writing something new, which I’m *planning* to do – although truth be told, most likely I’ll just watch Netflix shows instead, emerging out of the quarantine time like a troll with long hair and beard and completely alienated from the society.
Turning 40 today, I feel like taking a quick peek back at how my life was back 20 years ago.
The year was 1999 and the biggest topic was y2k. Everyone was sure that when we turn the digits from 99 to 00, systems reset, data gets screwed up and everything will be shut down. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen. But the world was quite a different back then. 9/11 hadn’t happened and Leonardo DiCaprio was still the annoying brat from Titanic. That’s about as much as I can remember from those times from the top of my head, but let’s do a quick Google 20 years back, at the year 1999.
Not one but two of the most influential presidents of the time were going through the impeachment process in their countries – Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Bill Clinton of USA both had their troubles, but neither of the impeachment processes was successful. The war in Kosovo had started – and recently ended, with war criminals either on the loose or getting caught and dragged to trials. Columbine mass shooting sparked the first big gun debate across the USA that I can remember personally.
So the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In my own life, I had recently moved in with my then-girlfriend, the to-be-mother-of-my-child, and I was working on a film I didn’t know would end up changing my whole life. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the sixth installment of a long series of scifi comedies created by Samuli Torssonen, had recently released its’ first teaser, which claimed the film would come out in the year 2000 (or with some luck, even a bit earlier!), and I was signed up as the director. Little did we know, it would take another 6 years before the film would be finished, and almost none of the footage we had shot by then would end up in the movie (if I’m not mistaken, there’s one clip, the bit where Info calculates the probability of the losses, which made it to the final film).
I didn’t have personally any dreams or hopes of becoming a filmmaker back then – as you can see from the teaser above, Star Wreck became much more serious only after the release of the teaser, which prompted us to revisit the VFX and the material we had shot.
Having said that, prying back into my head 20 years ago is much harder than one would think. What was important to me back then? I loved metal music, I had just recently discovered David Bowie, I enjoyed roleplaying games back then. My operating system was Windows NT, phone Nokia 3310 and I loved Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I was working at a telemarketeering company, I think I was still in high school. My brother was still alive.
Nowadays, well, he’s dead. I miss him. I know I would have invited him over for my birthday bash, we would have talked about things 20 years ago. He would’ve remembered how I was a dumb kid back then. I would have said the same of him. He would’ve commented I’ve gained some weight. He probably would still be the skinny old him. We would have laughed, he had a very infectious laugh. I can hear it now in the back of my head.
Since twenty years, I’ve made a bunch of movies which I’m proud of – I’ve made some use of my time, I guess. I’m still working at marketing – when not making movies, or marketing them to either financiers or the end users, I’m working at an advertisement company, doing ads for other products. I enjoy it, it’s fun and creative enough to keep my mind busy.
Health is one thing that takes a hit. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t in a great shape, but I wasn’t hurting. Now, my left knee and ankle both hurt and I need to take three different kind of pill every morning to keep my blood pressure in check. I try to do sports few times a week, but it’s not always possible.
Nowadays, I’m running a Macbook Pro with Catalina operating system. My phone is Huawei, I play God of War, I’ve sold all my CDs I was so proud back then after Spotify came onboard, but find myself collecting LPs today instead. I have a wife now and I love her. She’s the funniest dumbass I know, and I can’t spend one day with her without her making me laugh out uncontrollably. And I have a son, he’s 14 years old, turning out to be a charming little champion.
And just like 20 years ago, the vibe of the upcoming decade change is anxious. Twenty years ago, I used to play roleplaying games, a hobby I sadly have forgotten since then. One of my favorite games was R. Talsorian Games’ Cyberpunk 2020 (released originally in 1990). It painted a picture of the future in my head, one which has stayed etched there clearly.
In Cyberpunk 2020, cars were flying, supercorporations running the world and everything was grimy, dark, sexy and dangerous. People had mini cellphones, everyone was toting an arsenal of guns with them, the techies were jacking on to the Net and mechanical chrome additions made bodies better, stronger – and prone to cyber psychosis.
They didn’t hit that far off the mark; guns are a huge problem in the US, Internet is everywhere, cars are not flying but Tesla (with their new Cybertruck – remains to be seen if it actually sticks or not) is definitely headed that direction and the supercorporations are getting more and more powerful, extending their grasp into governments like never before. Cellphones rule our world, our eyes are glued to their screens day and night, the real-life cyber psychosis is going on all around.
I’m looking forward for my next 20 years with the same anxiety as 20 years ago. I have no idea what’s coming up next. Will I make more films in the future? I bet I will; I was down that road 20 years ago, although I wasn’t that serious about it back then. But me, looking back at me 20 years from now will probably have just as hard time getting really into my mindset as I have when remembering myself 20 years ago.
Today, I’m 40. It’s been quite a ride so far, looking forward for the next 20 years!