The Helsinki based filmmaker talks about ESP and what she fights hardest for.
Why was it important for you to apply to the European Short Pitch?
Currently I study screenwriting in an MA course in University of Salford in Great-Britain. During my studies I have gained some understanding in the art of storytelling and my passion to learn more has skyrocketed. I feel there is always something I can learn to do better. My experiences have made me appreciate good feedback as a vital part of developing a script. I wanted to apply in ESP because of the possibility to discuss and be challenged by tutors.
The European Short Pitch means the world to me as a budding filmmaker and writer. Simply being selected is an honour. I am looking to be inspired by my fellow participants. An international atmosphere is alluring because it means that we as writers are able to see our work through the eyes of other cultures. This allows us to understand not only the universality of our stories, but also to recognize descriptive characteristics and details we ourselves are blind to whilst absorbed in our own culture. Networking with colleagues world-wide is clearly elementary in being an artist living in modern days. No man is an island.
I also anticipate to present my work and passion in the pitching sessions. I wish to learn a lot from that experience whether or not the pitching leads to collaboration. But for a young filmmaker such opportunities are vital and are to be made the most of. It can perhaps change the course of a career.
How do you define a good script and how did you see your chances when you applied?
When it comes to my own script I did in fact have a sense of potential for it. It’s hard to say where does that feeling exactly come from, especially since it’s still a work in process. You need to be able to see past the momentary turmoil and flaws to recognize potential. For me the feeling came from the fact that this was an idea I’ve harbouring for a long time. It always came back to me. Also, I found my story a bit dangerous and it made me think: can I write about such an issue? In my mind this is a good sign. You should always try to go out of your comfort zone and not try to please everybody. The danger in trying to please is that you can’t really even know what others would like. You end up writing something generic. One should be honest about what makes you tic and write about that, even if it was something rude or embarrassing. Embarrassment is a good thing. It tells you you are being honest.
Tell us about where you come from and how you got involved with films.
Originally I became interested in film in high school when I started to visit the Finnish Film Archive screenings. I learned that films can be as much an art form as painting or photography, in which I was then more interested. I studied in a high school for visual arts in Helsinki and set my mind into making a career in film. But I didn’t get into University easily, I had to try a couple of years until I did. But even if it took me a while I feel the life experience was educational: nothing in life comes easily, you have to work for it. In the end your commitment is most important.
I graduated from Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2011. I majored in cinematography, but took into writing and directing. The school was very free and we did a lot of independent projects. I made a few short films while I was there. My thesis work “Wolf Carver” was selected in Clermont-Ferrand International competition in 2012 and was broadcast on Canal+. Now I study MA in screenwriting in University of Salford in Great-Britain. I have a couple of projects in financing at the moment: a short film about an ufo-cult and a documentary about an up-and-coming rap-artist Mercedes Bentso.
Why is your film important to make, what does it tell the audience?
My film “Turnaround” is a story about a 12-year-old girl who meets her internet-lover for the first time. It’s in fact a story about power and games. A young girl is introduced to an adult world where she is challenged to do things she’s not really ready for and has to learn how to set limits even if she is afraid to loose love. It’s not about victimizing young girls nor it’s about demonizing their seek of love and intimacy. I try my best to tell as honestly as possible about the mind of an adolescent girl who I once was myself too.
I strongly feel my script talks about an important issue. The difficulty of initiation to sexuality is always a relevant subject and I feel too many times it’s been told from the man’s point of view or made to romanticize the subject, even to the point where it’s actually about the fantasies of a male writer. Gender and sexuality are things to be discussed openly about and maybe in the future there won’t be so many taboos and secrets.
What inspires you to do what you do?
What inspires me to write is the endless interest I have for human nature. I want to understand the subtle regularities which determine our lives. Basically, it’s the question: why? Why we do what we do? The seeming anomalies, the irregularities which stick out actually are part of the everyday pattern. They seem abnormal, but they reveal the core of humanity. I have always felt that if we so strongly denounce evil, we in fact fool ourselves to think the evil doesn’t also live inside us. And that is the most dangerous thing. Because people with good intentions end up doing bad things, which they justify with the purpose.
What do you think about short films in general? How do people relate to it around you?
Short film is a great form to tell about little moments that crystallize big issues. Also in a sense it allows more creative freedom that feature films. Not all ideas are fit for 120 minute long stories.
Around me there are a lot of film industry people who of course enjoy and value short films. But when it comes to financing it’s very hard to find money and distribution. It’s hard to make a living out of short films, because there’s not enough market for them. Still they are as vital a form as features and should definitely be promoted. It’s great to see what a great work different movie enthusiasts such as Kino Euphoria in Finland do to promote short films.