Deep in the very deep depths of 1992, something amazing happened, something awesome was born. I’ve spent a lot of time confirming with doctors and psychologists that it wasn’t my first marriage. No – this... this... was something so much better and not at all bad. I am, of course, referring to the very first release of the glory that would come to be known as Star Wreck.
Over the years Star Wreck has grown from simple animation and model star ships to complex CGI and finally, the messy, chaotic glory that are live actors. Also, they have made fun of not one, but two Science Fiction Holy Cows with Star Wreck – In the Pirkginning, that has brought those two universes together in a way that only Majel Barrett has also been able to do.
And now, as the days count down towards their next huge “Nazis From the Moon” project Iron Sky (in co-operation with producers Blind Spot Pictures) I had the chance to sit down in an intimate email exchange (that never actually involved any of us sitting down together) with Timo Vuorensola and Samuli Torssonen of Energia Productions and Blind Spot Pictures and attempt to get to the bottom of these burning questions:
NAMag: So, to bring any neophytes in this country up to speed, when did you first start making movies and how many have you done to date?
Timo Vuorensola: I started making movies - actually, a movie - when I was in the gymnasium. We - me and my two pals - were given a camera and told to shoot something in 2 weeks, as part of our art course. It took us 1,5 years to finish my first film, Norwegian Whore. After that, I've shot several commercial videos, music videos and my first feature, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. So Iron Sky is my second feature film.
Samuli Torssonen: I began my animation career in 1992 with the first Star Wreck short animation, which had only voice actors. After that I moved to 3D graphics and so far we have created 7 Star Wreck films. The latest was released in 2005 (Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning).
NAMag: With all the Star Trek parodies out there, what is, in your opinion, the unique flavor Energia Productions brings to theirs?
TV: To me, Star Wreck was never about expressing my inner trekkie, because I wasn't one - as a matter of fact I had never seen an episode of Star Trek fully when we did Star Wreck: ItP, so I was able to trash parts of the story that went way too deep into fandom, thus making the story accessible to people other than Star Trek fans as well. And of course, the work we put into Star Wreck - especially Samuli and his CGI - resonates to the screen.
ST: Of course great visual effects and space battles. And the rough and dry Finnish humor :)
NAMag: What prompted the Star Trek/Babylon 5 parody In the Pirkinning and how many of your employees accept that Babylon 5 is clearly the superior series? I’m joking – my actual question is, any plans for a Star Trek/ Battlestar Galactica parody?
TV: The idea behind Star Wreck was that we wanted to take a piss on the ridiculous "which one is more realistic, Star Trek or Babylon 5" fight that was going on in the Internet in the late 90's. Originally, the idea was just to put Star Trek and B5 ships fight each other in a short film, but the story exploded, became sturdier and finally turned out into a feature film script.
We've been asked several times to do Star Trek / Galactica or Star Wars or Firefly or whatever parodies, but that's not in our interests. We're hoping to develop original storylines in the future, which might have some parody elements on scifi in general, and with Star Wreck, the Star Trek roots will always be there, but the goal is to do good, stand-alone stories. Personally, I'm most interested in delving deeper into more "serious" sci-fi, trying my wings on drama instead of comedy for the next film.
ST: At this moment I have no plans for Trek / Galactica parody. But the next Star Wreck will happen at some point. Who knows when. I just hope that I don't need to play the main role again... I hate acting. And if you ask why I played the lead role in Star Wreck - In the Pirkinning... the reason is because you just couldn't count on anybody else. Just name one professional actor who would be available seven years without any change to his haircut and be on standby all the time - with no compensation at all.
NAMag: In this country we are taught little of Finnish History. How do the Finns remember WWII? Given that “Iron Sky” is a Finnish/German co-production, how did that come about?
ST: Finnish people remember WW2 quite well. The Soviet Union tried to conquer Finland in 1939 which we call the "Winter War". Later on 1941-1944 Finland was again fighting against the Soviets - but this time with the help from Nazis and their advanced weaponry (!). The UK actually declared war against Finland but they never did anything.
TV: They're more eager to forget that after that we teamed up with Nazis and got our asses kicked by both Russians and Nazis. So, like with most of the nations out there, Finnish memory for war history is very selective.
ST: The Finnish government turned their backs to the Nazis quickly and drove them away in order to restore peace with the Soviet empire. You could say that we had some history with the Nazis.
TV: The German side of the co-production happened in a very natural way: we needed German actors for the Nazi parts, found a good co-producer from Germany and found good funding options from there.
ST: ...And of course we knew that we'd really need native Germans to play the roles of the Nazi commanders so the German co-production wasn't a bad idea.
NAMag: Given your previous films about Star Trek, what made you decide on Space Nazis for this film? Other than the fact that is, admittedly, pretty cool.
TV: Space Nazis were a topic tossed over to us by one of the writers of Star Wreck, Jarmo Puskala. He had been toying around the idea of Nazis on the Dark Side of the Moon for quite some time, and after the initial "no-it's-too-big-we-can't-do-that" chickenshit reaction, we decided to roll up our sleeves and make it reality, because, as you said, it's a damn cool idea.
NAMag: Who designed the Space Zeppelins?
ST: Our concept designer Jussi Lehtiniemi who does all our concept art. I think it is a shape that everybody connects to the evil Nazis. Such a simple form. In the film they act like air craft carriers with huge Gustav cannons that can bombard the earth from orbit!
NAMag: In the “Making of Iron Sky” documentary, we see several instances of technological problems. Is that the norm for film-making, or do the dreams of Blind Spot Pictures fly on winds that tax the computer’s ability to keep up?
TV: Filmmaking is 90% solving technical, financial, artistic and social problems, and 10% of real creativity. So yes, it's a norm.
ST: Computer problems are always part of the film production. No matter where you go. No matter if you are using macs or PCs. Computers are always too slow and keep crashing :)
NAMag: Who wrote the theme song for the film, and can you tell us more about the singer, Kaiti Kink?
TV: I honestly don't know anything about Kaiti Kink, I've never met her - she's a friend of the composers of the theme song, a bunch of skilled musicians from Tampere, Finland, who go by the name Adamantium Studios.
ST: It was made for the first reveal teaser only. So it isn't the official theme song of the film.
NAMag: Regarding the segment “Battletrousers Engaged” (from Energia Dailies) the obvious question is: any plans for an “Energia Productions Swimsuit Calendar?”
TV: Oh dear god no :)
ST: Not until we get at least one sexy female 3d artist :) And that is never gonna happen!
NAMag: You plan to release Iron Sky on 4 April, 2012. Any particular reason for that date, or are you just trying to upstage the Mayan Apocalypse?
TV: Honestly, it's a technical date - a good release date just around the Easter, which is a good time to put out a film in theaters. Nothing too dramatic with that :)
ST: Yeah, you need to set the deadline somewhere...
NAMag: Final question -- I’m sure you’ve noticed, at the end of French films, they use the word “finis” to indicate the films end. Given that this is, clearly, a copyright infringement of the term “Finnish” my question is: do you think you could beat France in a fight? And by “you,” I mean Energia Productions.
TV: We can render them useless any time.
ST: If your are talking about Command and Conquer match - sure our office will beat you anytime ! :)
Ryk McIntyre is a Multi-Hyphen sort of person. Poet, critic, performer, workshop facilitator and co-host at both GotPoetry! Live (Providence) and Cantab Lounge (Cambridge,MA). He's been living in RI for the past 6 years, with his wife and daughter. Ryk has performed his work at Boston's ICA, NYC's New School, Portsmouth, NH's Music Hall and Lollapalooza, to name just a few. He has toured the US, performing in countless Poetry open mics and festivals. He turned down Allen Ginsburg once.