How did you decide to apply for Kehittämö, and what are your expectations for the programme?
I applied for the Kehittämö programme because it sounded like a good opportunity for a newly graduated director. I’ve been working on my Elektra project for three years and even filmed a pilot for it in Stockholm. Still, I felt like I couldn’t get the project off the ground the way I would have liked. Kehittämö offered a great opportunity to work on the film, and I’m glad that others saw the potential of the project after so many years of working at it alone.
Of course, the most important thing that Kehittämö has offered has been the opportunity to meet with production companies. This is how I found Dionysos Films for my project. Another important benefit has of course been the grant from the programme, which gives me time to develop the script – it feels luxurious to focus on a script for over six months.
I had no preconceptions about the mentoring, but now that I’ve worked with script consultant Karol Griffiths, it’s hard to imagine developing the film without her support.
What are the things you want to develop specifically in your own work?
Since our focus in Kehittämö is mainly on developing the script, my objective is to develop my own skills in scriptwriting, especially in creating the structure. Kehittämö provides an opportunity for careful background work, and I hope that this will teach me about the importance of background work in the future as well.
Tell us more about your project – how did you decide on the subject and what is the work about?
Elektra is about an ambitious game developer, Emma, who is fighting for her dreams in a narrow-minded working community. Emma breaks the silence about her experience of discrimination with Elektra, an animated character that she develops.
The idea is based on my own experience of gender-based discrimination at work, and the struggle to change things. I want to show what discrimination does to an individual and highlight the importance of talking about our experiences to change things. During my exchange, I studied animation at Stockholm University of Arts, which gave me an insight into video game companies and their working atmospheres. It felt natural to set my story in the world of gaming, where there has been a lot of struggle with discrimination.
Has Kehittämö so far been what you originally imagined when you applied for the programme? How do you think the process of your own project in Kehittämö has progressed up to this point?
The progress has been inspiring, and it’s been great to be fully immersed in the world of your own script. Kehittämö has given me complete freedom to tailor the process to my own taste and needs – it has made my work free and creative. On the other hand, it has given my work a framework with the help of my mentor and production company. This is important, as the framework creates a structure and makes the scriptwriting process concrete.
What is your professional background? How did you end up working in filmmaking?
I got into moving pictures at the age of 15, when our school got its first camera. Before this, I’d been writing stories all my childhood. After upper secondary school, I went to study journalism, which is where I confirmed my passion for visual storytelling during my documentary studies.
However, I was most interested in fiction, so I went to the London Film School in the UK, where I specialised in fiction directing and screenwriting. In London, making short films was easy thanks to a large amateur group of short-film enthusiasts, with whom I got more practice in directing through short films. After that, I worked for many years in various productions and in many different roles, which has helped me view directing from different perspectives.
A few years ago, I got into Aalto University to do a master’s degree in film directing, and through an exchange I ended up in Stockholm, Sweden, where I currently live. Since graduating, I have directed advertisements, participated in Yle’s Lume Lab scriptwriting training and received a one-year grant from Kone Foundation for my documentary project.
What kinds of films, other art forms or filmmakers inspire your own work? You can mention a couple of examples of works that have particularly influenced your work.
I am most interested in films that offer a new perspective on our society or our lives. Sometimes films like this can be hard to watch, but after the film you feel like you see the world differently.
I also grew up with films with a strong male perspective, so nowadays I enjoy women’s stories. Recent inspiring works include Kitty Green’s The Assistant (2019), Emmanuelle Nicot’s Dalva (2022) and Todd Field’s Tár (2022), all of which deal with problematic power relations in a credible way.
What kinds of topics or themes are you interested in addressing in your works? How would you describe your artistic style, or what kinds of artistic choices inspire you?
I’m interested in dramatic stories where people are caught in the middle of change and find a new identity after the turmoil. I find that the characters in my works are usually outsiders in their world and go through mental disturbance after crises. I am particularly inspired by stories that deal with some form of abuse in our society. At the same time, my aim is to leave room for viewers’ own interpretations and challenge people to see things from a perspective outside their own social bubble.
Do you think that there are any particular challenges that fledgling filmmakers face when starting their careers in Finland? What types of challenges? What challenges have you faced as a filmmaker?
As a director, it is difficult to start your career by directing alone. It seems that the only way to get into directing is to offer your own scripts to production companies. Even though I have made many short films, it was difficult to find work at first, as many production companies seem to view employing a fledgling director as a risk. Naturally, if new voices are not heard, our perspectives in the field of films will be limited. This is why the Kehittämö project is particularly important.
Kehittämö – Talent Development Lab is a new development programme by AVEK and the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the aim of which is to strengthen the personal voices of the most talented filmmakers of their generation and create new audiovisual works of the highest quality. Authors selected for the programme receive a €55,000 grant to develop their work, as well as personal mentoring from top international professionals in the field.
Kehittämö is made possible with financial support from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and the programme is implemented by AVEK. Half of the funding for the programme comes from the Finnish Cultural Foundation and half from AVEK’s compensation for private copying.