"A good script is a good script"
by Boyd van Hoeij
- Producer Markus Selin heads Solar Films, the company responsible for some of Finland's biggest box office hits but also of some of the country's most critically acclaimed films and TV productions
Cineuropa: Could you explain the company philosophy of Solar Films?
Markus Selin: Solar Films Inc. Oy is a very rare production company at least in Scandinavia. Now in its 11th year it continues to do movies as well all kinds of TV entertainment. Solar Films has been very successful in both markets; for example for the last 5 years we have produced the number one domestic movie in Finland. We believe in talent, talent and talent. From a gaffer to directors and actors, we want to commit ourselves to work and create art with people who are willing to commit themselves to us. We also want to create a family-like environment for all aspects of work.
Scandinavian and Finnish cinema are often lumped together, would you agree that there is more than a geographical closeness?
Finnish movies are getting closer to other Scandinavian movies, however, the average production budget is around €1.5m, so the difference with other Scandinavian countries is largely affected by budgets. However, Frozen City is much more of a social study than most other Scandinavian movies that are currently made.
The Finnish films that make it abroad are often quite heavy dramas like Frozen City, while Finnish audiences also get to enjoy lighter commercial fare, such as the films of Aleksi Mäkelä. Is there a difference in the way you approach production for these films?
We do movies and TV productions in many genres. Aleksi Mäkelä´s two recent hits, Bad Boys [+see also:
film profile] and Matti [+see also:
film profile] had a combined audience of 1.1m viewers in Finland alone [a country with 5.3m inhabitants]. I see no difference between the different genres: a good script is a good script [whether] a local comedy or a universal social study.
How would you characterise a typical Solar Films project?
Four years in development, then into fast track and into production. From pre-production to the theatres: maximum one year. The new "Lordi" movie, based on the characters of this years Eurovision song contest winner Lordi, will be about the same without the four years in development. We started to plan the project in May, after the Eurovision song contest win, and now we will move into production early December for a May premiere. Frozen City is not a typical Solar Films production as it is based on a TV-series. Fragments (Irtiottoja) was the most awarded TV-show ever in Finland two years ago and Frozen City follows a story of one of the main characters in that series.
Frozen City had its premiere at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, where it won several prizes including the Europa Cinemas label. How important are they for selling your films abroad?
Success in film festivals is a good addition to get your films distributed in foreign countries and the Europa Cinemas label will probably help in sales, but so far it has had no effect nor has it caused any extra interest for the movie.
How do you market a film made for the cinema with such origins?
Naturally the industry here [in Finland has some doubts about] how the film will do, but we believe in a good story, a great movie and effective and emotional marketing. Frozen City will be a winner!