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Day 109: Early to bed, early to rise…


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Damn that white wine… Whatever they put in it, it gets in your head and leaves a nasty, grinding hangover for the next day to enjoy. This morning I woke up when it was still dark – it must’ve been 5:20 or something, but I had no way to get back to sleep. The bed was sweaty and the room smelled bad, and all I could do was to watch as the day slowly rose in front of my bed, revealing the beautiful ocean scenery and smoggy Thursday morning.

Although I had stuffed myself last night, I was still feeling hungry as hell, so I stumbled down to the restaurant for some breakfast. The place was absolutely packed with women in their early-to-mid 50’s wearing military uniforms (no idea what’s going on there), but I literally couldn’t find a seat for myself, which is indeed quite something since the breakfast room is massive. I crouched into one table corner and wolfed down my bacon and eggs, and then returned to my room.

I wasn’t still feeling any more sleepy, so I decided to watch a movie (Stand and Deliver, with Edward James Olmos as the leading character – what a performance!). Rest of the afternoon went past in a slumber, I did sleep a bit, played some Skyrim and Hearthstone and basically tried to do anything but think about the production itself.

What I also realized that actually Annika is flying already tomorrow over here! I had no idea the time had passed like this, since I was shooting long nights every night and we had our lengthy evening talks and all of it had become like a little lovely routine so that at one point I was feeling like hey, this is almost bearable like this, and although I can’t see her, we still have a chance to chat some good hour every night, which is always amazing with her. But to really have her here, with me? That seemed like a fantasy that’s just something written on a schedule but nothing real – but no, sometimes dreams do come true. And yeah, tomorrow she’s flying in the town! (So do excuse me for reduced blogging on that time, I intend to spend my evenings in a slightly different activities while she’s around).

In the evening, I went for  a great thai dinner downstairs with Mika, his girlfriend who’s also in town, our drone master and VFX supervisor. We had to plan a surprisingly complicated shoot that’s happening tomorrow VFX-wise and went through everything as well as we were able to. Then, back to room and early to bed. Day shoots (at least mostly) are the name of the game for the rest of the production, so early to bed, early to rise makes man healthy, wealthy and BORING!

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Day 40: Nite Flights


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Production manager, mr. Zhu, discussing with 1st AD Lei about the scouting plan.

Last scouting day in Qingdao dawned promisingly beautiful, but as the sunwheel slowly rolled across the skyline, the mood turned dire. Every location we went to was either depressingly bad, full of vegetation (we’re supposed to make a film in the future where all the green is dead) or just so thoroughly rotten that renovating it even to the state that we could bring any actors or crew in there without fear of a serious infections would be impossible. The location team was suggesting an endless row of wrong kind of street stretches to us and eventually Lei made the decision that it’s better we just head back to Beijing and let them find better locations.

Luckily, one of the places we decided to re-visit turned out to be pretty much perfect stretch of roads. Somehow weirdly, they had built few years ago a massive multi-lane intersection in Qingdao, but so that it only partially connects to roads – rest of the roads just end up into nothingness, in twenty meter height. These unused roads turned out to be a blessing for us. We could use them the way we want, just blocking the endings to thin air with big concrete blocks and otherwise, bring in as many stunt cars and stunts as we wanted and shoot our scenes.

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Being so close to the airport, unfortunately we can’t fly drones, which we were planning to do, but cable cam will have to do.

Still, this felt like only half a victory. We were still missing one key location and had no idea where to find it. What we were looking for was a block where we could set up one motorcycle action set. Previously, we had had a perfect one in the Qingdao center, but it turned out we can’t do any actual stunts there, so we had to give it up.

It was already very late when we had an idea with Mika to ask from our driver to go around for a quick drive around the center. Dozing on and off, we ogled out of our car window as streetlights waved past, one after another unsuitable street corner gliding out of our view. We were just about to head back, when suddenly I screamed: “stop”!

IMG_9798Ahead of us, was a perfect street. It was pretty wide, it was totally empty, and the neighbourhood was charmingly desolate and depressing. This was the old Qingdao center, very local, very New York. Also, exactly what I had had in my mind even before I set foot in China, for the location. It’s hard to describe the joy I felt as we wandered around the dead empty streets, each corner revealing more interesting sights and possibilities. The mess of electric wires crossing the streets. The restaurants with tons of AC devices nailed to the walls. The lonely guy sweeping the ground from trash, the slightly rotten smell of market stands… Perfect!

By the time we arrived back to the hotel, it was already 2 am and we had an early wakeup call waiting for us. I did try to down at least one glass of my big green beer keg, but managed to get only a glass full of foam and merely half a decilitre of actual beer… Ah, well. This relationship between me and the keg was just never was meant to be.

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Next stop: Zagreb


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5.7.2017 – 224 Days Left until release of Iron Sky The Coming Race!

European Genre Forum has invited me to talk about Iron Sky and mentor few projects, and the place is Zagreb, in Croatia. So, beautiful Eastern european women all around, sunshine and five star hotel, and they even pay me for it. I can do that.

(The first time I was staying in Westin was back in 2005, in Tokyo, where I was speaking about Star Wreck. It was – and still is – the most prestigious event I’ve been speaking at, sharing the stage with people like Reid Hoffman, Jimmy Wales and the ashes of late Timothy Leary.)

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A picture from 2005: That’s me, my weird-ass hairdo, and an ill-fitting suit. In the orange box on my right are the ashes of Timothy Leary.

What I didn’t realize when I signed up for this Zagreb gig, though, was that I had to read the scripts of the projects I was to mentor. So instead of relaxing and checking out films and listening others speak, I had to spend most of the day indoors, struggling through scripts.

The first day I went out with my skateboard, cruising around the town, getting my bearings and enjoying the summer the way it’s supposed to be – not the +9 degrees of Celsius Finland calls “summer”. I stopped for a steak and a glass of wine at a small restaurant, listening to some choir rehearsing House of Rising Sun (in Croatian) next door.

In the evening, we had some welcome drinks at the hotel, hosted by the guy running the show here, Stjepan Hundic, whom I know for many years. He’s a funny, charming chap with gray well-kept beard and Croatian sense of deadpan humour. I also got to know bunch of producers and directors and their projects, all a charming lot, loads of Udo-stories shared, until calling it a night way too late.

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Producers Aaron Hillis and Ant Timpson sending greetings to director Aaron Moorehead from Zagreb.