Solar goes Lunar aka how I became a producer in Solar Films

MARKUS (sober)
How have you enjoyed your time at the Producer’s Union? What are you going to do, for real?
I was thinking about producing.
In that case, you’ll come to us.


I started in Solar in April 2012 as a movie producer. I had a few fruitful years behind me in Fantasia Filmi and Matila Röhr Productions. My latest employment had been the executive director of the Union of Movie Producers. And then the scene described above took place between Markus and me.

Mr. Heavysaur and Nina Laurio

Solar was considered – and among certain groups, still is – as a very manly, even chauvinistic fortress to work at. The fact that I moved to Solar raised some eyebrows; a woman as a producer, in Solar? What’s going to happen to her? Will she survive even one month? The colleagues in other production companies were grinning; “Do you know that Solar has a new subsidiary, Lunar Films?”.

It took some adaptation, from both sides. Markus and Jukka were used to producing all the movies, just the two of them. Like Yin and Yang. I am not – and hope you won’t be either – contemplating which is which. The years had formed their mutual communication to be laconically smooth; on the other hand, the rows between the lines were full of hidden messages, just like an old married couple speaking to each other.

And all of a sudden; the boys had to learn how to speak in plain Finnish, to explain what they have done and what they haven’t done – and talk about the future with an outsider. It must’ve felt like working, occasionally. Since that, many new producers have come to Solar and the clear communication is a standard procedure nowadays.

After you’re 100 % sure your speech is a perfect headline for yellow press, go and present your case.

I also had to learn the ropes. I still have to. Being in Solar is like life itself; you are never fully ready to know all the nooks and crannies of the place. I had with my earlier connections taught myself to talk like men do – and that has been a huge benefit. I keep my sentences short. The main clause has to come first. The message has to be short, clear and pitchy. If someone asks you a question, you have to answer either yes or no.

The best way to do it is to build a clear scoop to your sentence or a cliffhanger to your question. Your time in the spotlight – in the chaotic marriage of money and attention in Solar Films – is the first ten seconds. If you don’t manage to draw the attention of the listener in that time, you’ve lost your case. Well, sometimes mishaps take place and I still can find myself meandering. I might have something important to say, but I start with the subordinate clause and go into an abundance of complicated details of my domestic life, as the justification of the claim of the upcoming main clause. After 20-30 seconds I realize my mistake – that can’t be fixed – the eyes of the listener have blurred or gone introverted; his hand is reaching for the cell phone, he is reading his e-mails. There is nothing to be done anymore; the best thing to do is to quit right there and then.

As a friendly advise to anyone coming to Solar to state your case, I’d say: contemplate. Write your speech in advance. Shorten it, polish it to a diamond. Practice in front of a mirror. After you’re 100 % sure your speech is a perfect headline for yellow press, go and present your case.

On the other hand, and depending / regardless of the facts stated above, there is no denying that Solar has managed to convince its audiences that Solar movies are worth seeing. That is personified not only to the talented moviemakers, but also to Jukka and Markus – who are the producers. And, by the way, I’m still alive and well in here – greetings to all those who were in doubt.

My first endeavour in Solar was to work on a contract about the movie rights of Heavysaurs, with Sony Music. That is a good brand; original and visual in a way I saw fit for a feature film. To my bad luck, at that time the band was wrestling with internal conflicts: the turmoil took the band members even to court rooms. The process slowed the movie project down; all the copyright issues involved needed to be crystal clear.

The maintaining and building of the Heavysaurs brand was impossible during the litigation – so as nothing was happening for a while, people started to think the whole thing was passé. And that wasn’t the best possible scenario to start building the financing for the project, nor to look for co-operators or partners. The demands of a commercial brand, the fact that the target audience was children, combined with the contradiction between the freedom to create and the genre of the script – all this seemed to discourage the moviemakers I was trying to attract to the project. And, in addition, several screenwriters jumped ship, pleading to their lack of time or to other reasons – my conclusion was that the movie was suffering from a negative karma.

Your time in the spotlight – in the chaotic marriage of money and attention in Solar Films – is the first ten seconds.

The financing was shaping up like dance moves: one step ahead, three to the back. At one stage I managed to raise some interest from international financiers; for a while we were sailing in favorable winds. But when the terms of the international financing were in front of us, in black-and-white, we had to agree with Jukka and Markus that it wasn’t worth it. And once again, we were way behind in our financing.

Considering all the wrestling and all the setbacks, I can now say that it’s a minor miracle the movie was ever made. But the film is now shot and edited and the animation wizards are now doing their magic, in bringing the stone-faced Heavysaur figures to life. It is fascinating to see how the illusion of a movie and the escape from reality are built in front of your very eyes, literally. That is the spice that gives us the strength to do what we do. I don’t have the guts to utter a final sigh of relief, not quite yet. But when the movie premieres in November 2015, we’ll find out if the struggle was worth it.