Six Scifi Potholes

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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Space, the final frontier. Every year, mankind gathers together in small, darkened rooms around the world, staring at the abyss, fantasizing what might there be – or not to be. That is the ultimate question. Is there intelligent life out there, or not. These darkened rooms serve as projection chambers to realize our wildest dreams, to answer our worst fears. This year, the projection they are showing is Ad Astra, a film about Brad Pitt in space, in search for his father, and ultimately, the answer to the question of whether there is intelligent life out there, ’cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth, as Monty Python sings.

Making a science fiction film is a hard job. I can tell you because I’ve made a bunch of them. There’s a selection of very common mistakes, problems and challenges each scifi filmmaker faces, ones they end up solving in many different ways. In this post I’ve listed the six most common challenges scifi stories encounter, and how they are being solved – or then, not. I’m going to be viewing them through the lense of my top-10 scifi movies, which are, in no particular order, Children of Men (2006), Alien (1979), Interstellar (2014), Solaris (1972), Moon (2009), Twelve Monkeys (1995), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Star Wars (1977), E.T. (1982)  and Blade Runner (1982).

Oh, and obviously, spoilers ahead!


Scifi is a sandbox of concepts, not of characters. Ever since sci-fi writers have started publishing the science fiction novels, they’ve started with an interesting setting, concept, theory or scientific improbability, which they’ve then started to solve, introduce further or write about. The characters, nearly always, come second. When facing the most complicated sci-fi setting we need the main character who, more often than not, is just a plain observer, someone who goes through the events and witnesses them – and eventually, solves them not through personality, but brawn, wits and the deeply imprinted need to save humanity.

This means that the characters area easily forgettable. In Interstellar, Solaris, Moon or 2001, the characters are nearly interchangeable; none of them are in any way characteristic, we can barely remember their names – what happens in the movie is more important than to who it happens.

But there are great examples of well-written and memorable characters. While the main character in Children of Men may not be remembered by his name, the devotion he shows to the mission to save humankind and leave everything else is so vigorous it becomes a characteristic trait. Who could forget Ripley from Alien or Luke from Star Wars, and when the movie’s name is the main character – Deckard from Blade Runner, or the extra-terrestrial creature from E.T. – without them, the films would have been completely different.

Each sci-fi film walks on a tightrope when trying to figure which is more important, the characters or the setting. The best ones manage to find a neat balance between these two worlds and deliver an amazing science fiction setting, added with characters we cherish for a long time. But still, I’m yet to see a scifi film which is built around such an interesting main character than it overshadows the scifi setting totally.


One of the most typical pitfalls of a scifi film is when the writers end up writing their characters in such an impossible-to-solve conundrum that the only way to get their asses out of the situation is to stretch the laws of film physics, the agreement between the viewer and the filmmaker on what’s possible in this world and what’s not, the suspension of disbelief. These issues are usually solved either through going completely abstract, like Interstellar or Solaris, or just bringing a well-timed deus ex machina to play – like in Blade Runner. Usually, these solutions are the most divisive elements of the movie – I mean, who hasn’t had that conversation about Solaris or Interstellar, where one claims to have loved the movie, but didn’t “get” the ending. Still, when crafted masterfully, like in these two movies, it can be artistically fulfilling, even though it may not be the strongest written plot ever seen.

When the writers brute force their characters out of the unsolvable conundrums, it usually becomes slightly awkward. Ad Astra sends the main character flying through Neptunus rings using a thin metal plate as a shield to block the oncoming meteors, while hitting a bulls-eye some 40-50 kilometers away with his body. In Gravity, the main character skips from orbit to another like they were changing lanes on a freeway. These solutions break the suspension of disbelief -effect and the audience becomes aware of the brutal force the writer is using in forcing the otherwise solid script through a loophole that’s just too tight to fit.

Great scifi films have this taken in consideration already when setting up the plot. Either the solution is rather simple and understandable, like in Alien – just kick the creature out of the airlock and be done with it. There, the solution doesn’t feel too alienated, pun intended, or forced, but follows a logic the film has drawn from the beginning.

The question is not how improbable the solution is, but does it fit into the general agreement the audience and the filmmaker have created. Either we follow physics down to the smallest decimal,  or we skip physics altogether.  Whatever it is, everything needs to circle  around that decision or the audience feels betrayed.


“Space… is huge, Margaret. Where do you recommend we go? Second star to the left and then straight on ’till the sunset?“, Udo Kier says in Iron Sky The Coming Race. I know, quoting my own film is kinda lame, but since we are talking about scale, it fits here. One thing the science fiction filmmakers tend to drop pretty quick is the sense of scale. We forget that everything in space is so far apart from each other than it takes several lifetimes to connect the dots. We humans are so infinitestimally tiny creatures in this infinite universe that writing stories that center around us and the limits of our feeble minds and the sacks of mostly water we call our bodies usually becomes the biggest challenge.

Distance between objects has been easily the biggest problem each writer needs to tackle at first. Einstein, the great party-pooper of science fiction, says we can’t travel faster than light and that’s a fact. Interstellar shows us wormholes which bend space and time; Star Wars introduces hyperspace and Alien introduces stasis, or hypersleep (but also features faster-than-light travel, only doesn’t really talk about it).

Another thing are the forces in space. When colliding with an asteroid, whatever size of the object, it travels with such an immense speed it will tear through the hull and destroy everything. One of the few films that really take this in consideration is Aniara, a beautiful swedish poetic film which introduces a particle that hits a spaceship on its’ way to Mars, and sends it off course.

Aniara does other things right as well. It reminds us that when adrift in space, we will remain so, and the probability of us ever reaching any target is immeasurably small. Thus, after being set off course, the next time they reach another planet is six million years later, long after all human life has perished onboard the ship. And even that is, if I’m not wrong with my assumption, quite a stretch.


Is there anyone out there?

Yeah, there is. And no, there isn’t. Both are true, at least for now.

The thing is, we know absolutely nothing even about the possibilities of life, let alone intelligent one, existing in other planets or other celestial bodies. Ever since we started serious space exploration, we have found absolutely zero evidence that there are any other living creatures out there – save predictions and probability calculations, which indeed suggest there should be something else out there, but just as possibly, we are the wacky misstep of nature and remain so until we either kill ourselves or our Sun scorches us to smithereens.

Still, in science fiction we usually predict the aliens being quite similar creatures than us, sharing similar feelings, physical features and even translatable language. We assume they have somehow heightened versions of us – either more hostile, or more intelligent, or more technologically advanced. We interpret them as creatures that have similar goals, wishes, and needs as humans.

In reality, if we were ever to meet an alien race, we would need to spend decades in just understanding what it might want or need. Their whole conceptual world would most likely be totally different from us, they might see the world using totally different senses than us – hell, we might not even know they are aliens, actual sentient beings, if we ever were to meet them.

Again, there are few approaches to aliens in science fiction: films like Alien introduce them as purely evil, hostile creatures we can’t negotiate with – or E.T., where the alien is friendly. Interstellar and Solaris, again, take a more abstract approach, where the aliens communicate with us on a whole different conceptual level.

One of the few interesting representations of aliens in recent years was Arrival, which focused mostly around just trying to find a similar conceptual drawing board to understand even the basic concepts of the aliens. It was a linguistic science fiction film, where the biggest challenge was not what the creature wanted, but how to communicate with it. Much earlier, this issue was presented in Solaris, even more strongly in Stanislaw Lem‘s original novel, where most of the film was mostly about trying to find a way to communicate with the creature – the Solaris planet – or even more so, to try to figure out if the creature even tries to communicate. If it actually was sentient at all.

Solaris’ approach to aliens is the most believable. While we can’t know until we know, after which everything will change, I’m putting my money on the fact that whatever we might encounter out there will be so different than us that we don’t even know if it is sentient.


While much of science fiction takes place in space, the more grounded stories happen on Earth, where the science fiction element is a human-made, sentient creature, a robot. These films usually fall into two categories: either the robot evolves out of control and tries to overtake mankind or the robot tries longs to be human. Rarely we see stories of robots actually doing what robots are supposed to do, which is, to assist humans. Artificial intelligence is seen as a threat that can any second go rampant and erase humans, where, in reality such outcome would be highly improbable. Mostly, we are talking of our own fears when we speak of artificial intelligencies becoming a threat to mankind: we see what humans do to this planet, we see the only solution being the one where we get rid of this pest, the humans. In many ways, films, where robots overtake mankind, are environmental statements. They may not be built as one, but the ultimate claim is: if an intelligence far more logical than us was to view our behavior on this planet, they would want to get rid of us because we are not worth saving.


Time is a harsh mistress. The issue with it is that it’s all bullshit, there is no such thing as time – not in the sense we like to think of it. We think of it as history, things that have happened, and future, things that might happen. So often we say: “next week I will do this” or “last week I did that” and consider them being elements on the same line, a railroad that one can travel back and forth, when in fact, neither next week or last week exists anywhere. They are mere memories and speculation.

Thus, in order to write a typical time travel story – think of Twelve Monkeys or Terminator – the writer needs to take the main scifi topic of their movie – time – and completely break the whole concept of time and introduce a completely new universe where there *is* a railroad called time, and then place us travel along it.

Somehow, though, and much of that has to do with the fact that our brains are capable of storing vivid memories and speculating the results of our actions before we actually do them, this is one of the most easily acceptable concepts of science fiction, one that people rarely challenge. Still, it’s bullshit.

Time exists, but it works in completely different terms than the time travel concept usually suggests. Interstellar was one of the few films that actually try to tackle time in film format.


Ihmisperseyden lyhyt oppimäärä

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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Olen saanut työskennellä urallani monien upeiden ihmisten kanssa. Joukkoon mahtuu kuitenkin aina myös liuta ihmisperseitä, jollaisten kanssa työskentely musertaa uskon koko elokuva-alaan, mutta ongelma on toki olemassa myös muilla taide- ja kulttuurialoilla. Kiinnostava artikkeli muotialalta – tai siis, muotialalle tähtäävistä opinnoista – julkaistiin juuri Long Play -palvelussa, otsikolla “Muodin huipulla”, jossa käsitellään melko kattavasti Aalto-yliopiston professorin käytöstä oppilaitaan kohtaan – kuten myös oppilaitoksen suhtautumista valituksiin.

Leffapuolella vastaavanlaista pokkurointia ja kiukuttelua saa kokea monilta eri tahoilta. Näyttelijät ovat yleensä ammattilaisia ja ammattimaisia, mutta äänekkäitä poikkeuksiakin on. Ohjaajalle asti ongelmat kantautuvat usein vasta myöhemmin, mutta meikki- ja pukuosasto tuntuvat olevan hyvin usein tulilinjalla kun näyttelijällä on paha päivä, itsetunto mudassa tai repliikit hukassa. Iron Sky The Coming Racea tehtäessä erään näyttelijän kohdalla ongelmat kärjistyivät melkoisesti. Olimme keskellä kuvauksia kun näyttelijä saapui, tapansa mukaan, naama happamana maskista harjoituksiin. Harjoitukset vedettiin kireissä tunnelmissa ja näyttelijän poistuttua maskeeraaja tuli itkuisena kertomaan saamastaan huonosta kohtelusta. Ilmeisesti kyseinen näyttelijä oli jo pitkään purkanut omaa pahaa oloaan maskissa ja käyttäytynyt karmealla tavalla ammattiaan harjoittavia maskeeraajia kohtaan – ja useammin kuin kerran hänen lähdettyään tekijät olivat purskahtaneet itkuun.

Minulla napsahti sillä olin osaltani katsellut näyttelijän diivailua ja jatkuvaa huomion kerjäystä jo pitkään mutta ohjaajana ottanut sen vastaan osana ammattia. Näyttelijät harvemmin käyttäytyvät ohjaajalle suoraan erityisen paskamaisesti mutta jo jatkuva huomion kinuaminen, suoranainen lepertely ja muu outoilu ovat merkkejä siitä, että kulisseissa asiat ovat todennäköisesti huomattavasti pahemmalla tolalla. Puhuin näyttelijälle suoraan maskiosaston terveisistä ja kuten tyypillistä, näyttelijä kielsi kaiken ja suorastaan kertoi tunnelman olevan jatkuvasti ihana kaikkien välillä. Tämä jo itsessään kertoo usein siitä kuinka syvälle omaan perseeseensä henkilö on päänsä työntänyt. Otin sittemmin asian tuottajien kanssa puheeksi ja teimme toimintasuunnitelman asian korjaamiseksi. Näyttelijän vaihto oli tässä vakavasti harkinnassa sillä kuvauksia oli mennyt vain pari päivää hänen osaltaan.

Ongelma kuitenkin ratkesi ennen sen suurempia muutoksia, muiden näyttelijöiden toimesta. Nämä olivat katselleet sivusta mainitun näyttelijän diivailua ja lopulta kaksi näyttelijöistä, erittäin kokenut pitkän linjan näyttelijä ja ensimmäistä rooliaan tekevä näyttelijä, kumpikin avautuivat illallisella suoraan huonosti käyttäytyvälle näyttelijälle. He kertoivat totuuden melko konstailematta: “kukaan ei pidä sinusta – maskeeraushuoneessa sinua vihataan, kuljettajat vihaavat sinua, puvustuksessa sinua vihataan – kaikki johtuu siitä, miten käyttäydyt ihmisiä kohtaan”. Näyttelijä oli aluksi kauhuissaan ja kielsi kaiken, mutta lopulta totuus alkoi imeytyä.

Tarinalla oli onnellinen loppu: seuraavana päivänä mainittu näyttelijä oli täysin muuttunut henkilö. Kuvaukset sujuivat hänen osaltaan upeasti loppuun – ei pelkästään työyhteisöllisesti vaan sain myös parhaat näyttelijäsuoritukset hänestä irti. Tuntui, kuin asennemuutos olisi myös höllännyt näyttelijän itsetietoisuutta ja vapauttanut jotain hänen sisällään. Kaikkiaan tulkintani oli, että kyse ei ole sisäsyntyisesti paskamaisesta tyypistä, mutta ison tuotannon roolin paineet olivat hänestä sellaista muovaamassa.

Kurjempiakin lopputuloksia koettiin. Erään HoD:in (Head of Department – elokuvatuotannoissa tuotannon osa-aluetta johtava taiteellinen päävastuullinen, näitä ovat esim. kuvausosasto, maskeerausosasto, puvustusosasto, lavastusosasto, jne.) kohdalla asiat olivat olleet jo pitkään huonolla tolalla. Tuottajat olivat puuttuneet osaston työoloihin mutta mikään ei ottanut vaikuttaaksen. Mainittu HoD oli polttanut osastonsa rahat kaikenlaiseen uskomattoman turhaan pitkään ennen kuvausten alkua ja tämän tajuttuaan rähjännyt viikkotolkulla alaisilleen, pakottaen heidät vääntämään mahdottomia työsuoritteita puutteellisilla tai olemattomilla resursseilla. Lopulta tilanne kärjistyi siihen, että osaston työntekijät, erään kuvauspäivän aamuna, kävelivät linjatuottajan puheille ja ilmoittivat että joko he lähtevät tai HoD lähtee.

Kesken kuvausten vaihtoehtoja ei juuri ollut ja tuottajat tekivät oikean päätöksen – HoD joutui jättämään työpaikkansa jo saman aamupäivän aikana ja poistumaan tarkkaan vartioituna (ettei veisi mukanaan mitään tuotannolle kuuluvaa). Lopputuloksena oli erinäistä kränää ja kädenvääntöä. Itse sain ko. henkilöltä muutaman yhteydenoton myöhemmin jossa hän halusi tarjota “oman näkökantansa” tapahtuneeseen, mutta tuskin siitä olisi hullua hurskaammaksi tullut. Raivo- ja itkukohtaukset, työntekijöiden nimittely ja henkinen pahoinpitely – ja budjetin melko karkea väärinkäyttö – eivät kuulu työympäristöön jossa haluan tehdä omaa työtäni.

Palatakseni alkuperäiseen artikkeliin, jossa Aallon professoriksi nimitetty muotisuunnittelija käyttäytyy kaksivuotiaan pikkulapsen tavoin, hämmästyttävää ei kuitenkaan ole se, että joku itsestään tärkeästi ajatteleva reppana käyttäytyy huonosti vaan opiston päävastuullisen vähättelevä suhtautuminen tähän. Valituksia on jutun mukaan riittänyt oppilailta jo pitkään, työtä on tehty yötä myöten omalla budjetilla itku kurkussa, stressitasot ovat katossa ja oppilaiden masennus syvää. Kun toimittaja ottaa asian esille, ensin ollaan hämmästyneitä, sitten lyödään luuri korvaan ja kysymyksiin kieltäydytään vastaamasta tai kommentoimasta mitään. Ja huom! Kyse ei ole edes mistään lyhyestä tuotannosta joka alkaa ja loppuu aikanaan vaan jatkuvasti vallalla olevasta tilasta Suomen arvostetuimmassa muotialan oppilaitoksessa.

On toki selvää että taitavista ja luovista tekijöistä ei haluta päästä eroon. Elokuvissa näyttelijät muovaavat roolin usein niin lähtemättömästi että vaihtaminen on mahdotonta ja tämä näkyy siinä, miten paljon sontaa vastaanotetaan. Ohjaajien asema on myös usein liki vaihtamaton, mutta onneksi viime aikoina ollaan alettu näkemään enemmän tapauksia joissa huonosti käyttäytyvä saa kenkää, oli kyse millaisesta starasta hyvänsä. Bohemian Rhapsodyn ohjaaja Bryan Singer sai fudut, tosin vain paria viikkoa ennen kuvausten loppua, mutta kenkää tuli joka tapauksessa. On myös hyvä nähdä että huono käytös itsessään riittää syyksi irtisanomiseen – aikaisemmin vaadittiin vähintään raiskaussyytöksiä. Kaikenlainen pahoinpitely työ- ja opiskeluyhteisössä on oltava tuomittavaa ja siihen on kyettävä reagoimaan pian, aggressiivisesti ja periksiantamattomasti.

Koulukiusauksen ongelmat lähtevät usein opettajien välinpitämättömyydestä. Olenkin seurannut oman 14-vuotiaan koulunkäyntiä ja useaan otteeseen ollut yhteydessä poikani ala-asteeseen kiusaamistapausten vuoksi. Näihin suhtauduttiin kuitenkin vähätellen vaikka poika oli tullut kotiin useaan otteeseen itkien. Onneksi asiat muuttuivat koulun vaihduttua yläasteeseen, jossa poikani kertoo olevan nollatoleranssi kiusaamisen suhteen. Se toki tiedetään, että koulukiusaaminen ei suinkaan rajoitu koulun pihoihin ja etenkin somessa kiusaaminen on noussut otsikoihinkin viime aikoina, mutta ainakaan oman lapseni kohdalla tämä ei käsittääkseni ole ongelma.

Itse olin kouluvuosinani erikoistapaus joka sain osaltani kiusausta osakseni koulun pihalla. Opettajanamme oli muuan nykyään kirkon parissa vaikuttava mies, joka saikin lopulta (huhujen mukaan) oppilaan pahoinpitelystä johtuen kenkää koulusta. Omina kouluvuosinani tämä opettaja kannusti luokan pahimpia rehvastelijoita heidän häiriökäyttäytymisessään, lähenteli kuvottavalla tavalla luokan tyttöjä ja meitä “erikoisia” pilkkasi julkisesti, puhetavan matkimisesta virheiden erotteluun ja muuhun piristävään. Opettajasta tehtiin valituksia rehtorille kymmeniä, mutta rehtori ei näihin uskonut, vanhempainillat olivat yhtä sotaa koulun puolustaessa mainittua, narsistista raivoalkoholisti-opettajaa, mutta mitään ei asian eteen tehty ennen kuin oli täysin pakko.

Vähän vastaavia kaikuja soi Aalto-yliopiston tapauksessa. Johtavilta virkahenkilöiltä toivoisinkin etenkin opintopuolella tiukempaa puuttumista tapauksiin. Emme halua työelämään valmistuvien raahustavan välittömästi työkyvyttömyyseläkkeelle kun pelkkä opiskelu on ollut yhtä helvettiä. Taiteellisesti lahjakkailla on oikeus huonoon käytökseen, mutta tehköön sitä omassa studiossaan omalle peilikuvalleen. Yhdenkään työntekijän tai oppilaan ei pidä joutua sellaista kokemaan.


Hungry Game Industry

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Photo by Juha Jormakka

My son messed up the other day.

He logged on to our Playstation, opened a game and deliberately went into the store section of the game, and bought something called 600 R6 Credits for a game called Rainbow Six Siege. By doing that, he used credit on my PS4 account, which he was not allowed to do, and thought he could get away with it.

Well, of course, I get an email notification whenever somebody uses my credit, and he was caught, red-handed. I got really pissed off, not because of what he had bought – it really cost only 5€ – but it’s more about the trust, and so forth and so forth – you know the drill. He promised not to do it again, I took away his gaming rights for two weeks and he’ll have to get the money back, and now that’s settled.

He’s a good kid, I’m actually pretty convinced he’ll never do that again.

And in the end, it’s my mistake. The game is rated for 18 years old plus, and my son should have no business playing the thing in the first place. I’m a too lenient father, I know that.

But that does bring me to the wider issue of games these days. The truth is, games these days, they are all just big fucking ruses, meticulously created to fool kids way too young to understand anything about money into spending hundreds of euros to absolute nothing: skins, game credit, special guns, in-game clothes and all that. Every game has some kind of a sneaky scheme going on and parents are either too uninterested or technically debile to really be able to look after where the kid actually uses money, why and what he/she gets out of it.

Back when I was young, I used what little money I had to toy soldiers, action figures and later on, to RPG books and figures and so forth. Stuff I was able to bring home, which my parents saw, they might have disagreed with (my dad’s a notorious pacifist so he wasn’t too crazy about the soldiers, and banned all toy guns in the house) but at least they were pretty much aware of what I was buying. But with the games, the parents have absolutely no grasp of how the kids use their money. All they do is buy prepaid PS4 cards to their kids, completely harmless-looking plastic things, but they have no idea, or even control on how the actual credit is spent – and how much of it! It might be that in addition for purchasing a videogame of 70€, your kid sends additional 250€ of your money to the company, and absolutely nothing of any real value has been gained.

One way to look at it, of course, is that instead of spending money on plastic that ends up into a dumpster sooner than later, none of that is created, and that’s a big, good, green thing, which I support wholeheartedly. But the issue is more in consumer culture. The earlier our kids are hooked to the reckless consuming online, where assets exchange ownership and value is gained only by the ones who run the big picture, the deeper in capitalist hell we all end up.

Instead, we need to start teaching kids consuming in schools. I’m not saying we are any better ourselves at consuming, but we come from the world where we experienced at least a bit of the transition from physical to digital, but the next generation, our kids, will spend more and more time shopping online, putting value on entirely digital elements, elements which worth is harder and harder to determine, which leaves a huge, gaping opening for cons, schemes and consumer control by outside entities. Our whole culture is completely hooked up to consuming and it’s gotten badly out of hands and the ever-hungry money-munching machine wants our kids’ souls as soon as they can type in their login-ID.

Having said all that, there’s really nothing wrong with the game industry making money with their products; as an independent filmmaker, I only wish our industry had some of that business thinking at our disposal. The problem is, games are by definition made to hook you on to them: one more round, one more mission… you know how it goes. Your brain feeds on the dopamine bursts the micro successes result in, which in turn creates an ideal environment for very invasive and near-addiction-based business models.

Casinos and gas stations with slot machines come with very strict regulations, one being, you need to be at least 18 to play them. I don’t see why the same approach wouldn’t apply with video games? Why not make it illegal to put in-game purchase mechanisms for games that are available for kids under 18, how about that?


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Grossmann audience watching the end of Iron Sky The Coming Race


So, what next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premiering Iron Sky The Coming Race Around The World

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


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


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

While others feel differently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Ikätesti – Instagram-mainontaa Alkolle

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Harvoin sitä pääsee työskentelemään lempiaiheensa parissa niin konkreettisesti kuin viimeisimmässä mainostuotannossa jonka tein TBWA-mainostoimiston kanssa yhteistyössä Alkolle. Kyseessä on pieni mutta hauska kampanja, jossa haastateltiin Alkon asiakkaita (tokikin castattuja näyttelijöitä) katugallup-hengessä ja haastettiin heidät todistamaan olevansa täysi-ikäisiä. Kampanjan ajatuksena on muistuttaa ihmisiä Alkon pelisäännöistä, joiden mukaan kaikkien alle 30-vuotiailta vaikuttavien – ja vanhempienkin – on pyydettäessä kyettävä todistamaan ikänsä Alkon kassalla.

Ohjasin kampanjan videosisällöt, jotka pyörivät nyt Instassa ja YouTubessa seuraavien viikkojen ajan. Tässä kampanjan päävideo:

Niin, todellakin. Instagram on nykyään kiilaamassa tietyn ikäsegmentin kohdalla kovaa kyytiä ohi Facebookista ja YouTubesta nettimainonnassa ja sen interaktioprosentti on hurja – 2,2% – siinä, missä esim. Facebookissa sama luku on 0,22%. Alle 25-vuotiaiden segmentissä palvelua käytetään yli puoli tuntia päivässä ja sisältömäärä nousee 80% vuodessa.

Eipä siis ihme että mainosohjaajienkin kohdalla kenttä muuttuu ja yhä useampi sisällöistä päätyy pääkanavanaan Instagramiin. Tämä tietenkin vaikuttaa myös ihan konkreettisesti sisällön suunnitteluun: viesti pitää saada paukautettua pihalle kymmenen sekunnin hyvin tiiviissä aikaikkunassa ja formaatti on 16:9 -kuvan sijaan 9:16 (Instagram Stories) tai 1:1 (peruspostaus) – mikä pitää huomioida tietenkin kuvaustilanteessa.

Usein toki sisällöt päätyvät moneen eri alustaan ja YouTube on yksi vahva kärki, eli sama sisältö siis pitää suunnitella toimimaan sekä 16:9, 1:1 että 9:16 -formaateissa. Katugallupia tehtäessä haaste ei ole niin suuri mutta annas olla kun lähdetään suunnittelemaan jotain kuvallisesti haastavampaa sisältöä. Siinä on yksi jos toinenkin Kannelmäen Kaminski äkkiä sormi suussa kun jokaisessa tarjolla olevassa formaatissa on jotain kuvassa pielessä.

Mutta kehitys kehittyy ja tähänkin löytynee tulevaisuudessa työkalut niin kamerasoftista kuin jälkituotantotyökaluista. Joka tapauksessa, kuvattuani jättimäisen The Ark -tuotannon, oli hauskaa hypätä tekemään nopeaa ja ketterää katugallup-formaattia jossa työskenneltiin aitouden ja välittömyyden ehdoilla.

Ja kuten jokaisesta tuotannosta, myös tästä jäi varmasti muutama työkalu pakkiin tulevia tuotantoja – isoja ja pieniä – suunniteltaessa.

Alkon kampanjan tiedote:

Alkon pelisäännöt:

Hesarin artikkeli aiheesta:

China Diary

Day 226: Heading back home

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Ah well, wrapped this leg of the production in Beijing again, and now I’m homeward bound, flying 10 kilometers over Central Russia, just passing over the town of Kodinsk. Did you know that Kodinks was established in 1977 as a settlement servicing the construction of a hydroelectric power station, with population close to 15000? I didn’t. But it’s crazy. Flying over Russia, it’s just insane. The country is so big, full of so much unknown little towns, huge cities and endless forest stretching everywhere.

I’ve started to read a really interesting book, one called One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I grabbed it on my Kindle as a recommendation for a read to understand a bit about the life in the Soviet Union, and this one is about a day in the life of one person in the gulags somewhere in the middle of the huge mother Russia. Written in a deadpan style, it’s both hilarious and scary at the same time, and very damn educative.

I finished my job in Beijing few days earlier than anticipated, and didn’t really feel like sticking around as there was nothing, really nothing for me to do there anymore. On the last day we sat down with Chris and went through all the remaining shots, solving some of the biggest issues we still had with the visual effects, and then agreed that we would continue the work online over Cinesync sessions.

I don’t know yet when I’m going back to Beijing, to be honest, but if things progress the way I suspect they might, it could be late September, early October, but let’s see what the future holds. Nevertheless, despite the massive sleeping issues I had, it actually was a pretty good trip and worth doing. Now, my next adventures take me to Japan, where we will be promoting the release of Iron Sky The Coming Race, after which we’re moving with Annika and then, well, I don’t really know yet!

Anyway, this story continues when I come back to Beijing next time, whenever that is – until then, have a wonderful summer dear readers!

China Diary

Day 225: Day off

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A day off means there’s absolutely nothing to do for me here. Since I don’t know anyone, I’m just stranded off in my hotel. Going out for some culture and recreation is out of the question, while Beijing is a huge city, once you’ve seen the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, walked the Hutongs and went to a bunch of museums, you’re pretty much done. Rest of it is just offices, residential buildings, restaurants, and shops. And there’s only so much of trouble one is willing to take in order to enjoy a dinner alone somewhere.

I did the gym, that was OK. I met with Tanya briefly, discussed future scheduling and what-not, that was fine. Went to a Japanese restaurant for an overpriced dinner, that was pretty OK, and watched a handful of The Americans shows, rattled some sables with some idiot on the Internet for a bit and eventually fell asleep for a few hours, waking up to a thumping headache. Must’ve been that one Asahi I had with the dinner…

Anyway, one more day – tomorrow – and then I’m headed back to Europe. The work will continue with The Ark online, and while I don’t know when I should be coming back, probably sometime later in the autumn.

China Diary

Day 224: So many people in the same device

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Okay, now it’s getting ridiculous; I managed to catch sleep at 11:30 am, meaning when I woke up at 3:30, I had only slept four hours and was both totally wiped out and dead tired. Nevertheless, I had to scramble myself up from the bed and head downtown to work with Tuomas, as it was his last day in Beijing.

Work was good, though. The additional footage we had shot a few weeks ago has found its’ way into the cut in a very nice way, and while it’s definitely not as well shot and lit as Mika’s material, add music, work the cut and focus on characters, it’ll go nicely. And watching Tuomas laying tracks on every emotional beat there made it look better and better every time.

We went for a cup of coffee across the street to the library café and discussed the importance of places like this, where the intelligentsia – counting us out, of course – would meet, compare thoughts and exchange information between countries and nationalities… We saw Beethoven’s notebooks, Tolkien’s writings, philosophy, Chinese literature, a Lithuanian professor prepping for a presentation… “All fit together, nice, nice, very nice… “, as the 53rd Calypso of Bokonon teaches us in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle”.

I read today a sad story in the news. A Finnish clown jumper – I’m not sure if that’s the right English term, but what I mean is a person dressed up as a clown and making a show of jumping down to water while clowning about – was found dead in his apartment. He had been dead for two weeks, actually.

This guy was known for a failed attempt at clown jump, which he botched by landing sideways on the water, falling 50 meters. He didn’t die, but went to a coma for weeks. I started thinking about this person’s life, what brought him up there, making that jump. Devoting your life on something as dangerous as clown jumps just escapes my understanding, just to entertain a bunch of people. I mean yeah, he was a professional at his line of work, a really dangerous one, too, and one which is definitely not very popular. It started to scratch something in the back of my head, like a story forming, and I did get flashes of interesting scenes in my head, and this character forming in my head.

Back at the hotel I started writing down some ideas while Tuomas was doing the music. We worked for good 5-6 hours and headed to the Libanese restaurant for some skewers and hummus, which I will definitely miss here, since we don’t have proper Libanese in Helsinki that I know of. Coming back home I turned on The Americans, but found myself dozing off halfway through the show. And then, lo and behold, I slept.

PS. Since we have had some pretty good progress with Chris, I decided to head home a bit earlier – on Tuesday, to be exact. The plan was to stay until Saturday next week, but why waste production’s money for a hotel room and driving me around, when there’s nothing really here for me to do at this stage. And it makes sense, I have a chance to catch a breather before heading over to Tokyo with Annika next week’s Sunday.


China Diary

Day 223: Rainy day

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There are a gazillion different kind of taxis in Beijing – the regular green-and-yellow ones that run on the meter; the ex-Uber now-Didi black sedans, the unmarked ones that try to hustle you for your money, the rickshas that try to hustle you for your money and so on and so on. From what I’ve heard is that the system has gotten much better these days than it used to be – if you book a Didi or a regular taxi, it’s pretty safe – the rest of the options are a bit questionable. But one thing is clear: when it rains, there are no taxis, anywhere.

I got stuck at VHQ for about an hour trying to get a ride out of there because suddenly Beijing went all dark and rain came down the sky. The whole city turned into a  one big Blade Runnerian dream with people swarming under their umbrellas, neon lights flashing above, reflecting from the wet street surface. When I finally made it to Tuomas’ hotel, it was already quite late, and he had left for another meeting.

So I wandered around Sanlitun – it was hopeless to get a taxi home anyway – and ended up into a small café, where I had a cider (only place in China I know that serves cider!) and a coffee (not an amazing combo) and chatted a bit with a student who was interested in studying in Finland.

One thing I’m running out of is underwear and shirts. I bought 20 pair of undies when I came here so when I wear the last ones, I know I need to be heading for the airport. But shirts I’m running out of, so I picked up a few from H&M (they are everywhere) when Tuomas finally called. I wasn’t anymore really feeling like working, so we went for a burger at a big chain restaurant. It wasn’t really good, I must admit…

By the time we were done, it had cleared out a bit and anyway it was way past the rush hour, so the taxi wasn’t that much of an issue. Back home, and ready for bed after 4 hours of sleep last night…

…yeah, right. One hour of restless tossing and turning, and here I am, up and awake again. This is not very nice…