That’s how we had fun (and made movies)
Jasper Pääkkönen has starred in the following Solar Films productions: Bad Boys, Addiction, Vares – Private Eye, The Frozen Land, V2 – The Frozen Angel, Matti – Hell is for Heroes, The Subtenant, Hellsinki, Vares – The Kiss of Evil, Vares – The Girls of April, Vares – The Garter Snake, Vares – The Gambling Chip, Vares – The Tango of Darkness and Vares – The Sheriff.
I met Markus Selin for the first time at the opening party of the Levi Ski Resort summer season. I had just quit my two-year tenure in the daily soap opera “Secret Lives” and Markus asked me what I wanted to do next. “I want to keep on working with camera and try to find out if the Movie School has any interesting student projects that require young actors. That might be the best way to learn more”, was my answer – I was trying to sound humble, professional, resolute and ambitious simultaneously.
Markus uttered a contemptuous laugh; “I might have something in mind. Let’s talk more when we’re sober. Now it’s boozing time.”
The following day, around noon. The whole entourage of Markus had passed out around his hotel suite – some on the couch, some on the floor. The common factor was that they all had the title “HOMO” written on their foreheads, scribbled with a felt pen. Me and Markus were the last men standing. “Come to see me in Nummela, soon. I have a movie I want to talk about.”
The movie was Bad Boys – and that trip to Lapland was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Markus. I have often wondered, if Markus had even contemplated casting a teenager idol from a soap opera, if I hadn’t flown up north that time, on a spur of the moment. The trip had caused an hour-long argument with my teetotaller-girlfriend-at-the-time. The short version of the fight went like this:
“Why the **ck do you always have to go out and party?”
“Honey, these are business trips. You’ll never know who you might bump into…”
Of course, that was an outrageous fib and a lie I used as an excuse of my pressing need to travel. But that time, Markus happened to be in the same place in Lapland.
I have sometimes heard Antti Jokinen saying that Solar Films was founded on the principle: “We’ll drink everything. Our only goal is to have fun”. My own 15-year old personal history with Solar is not far from that statement. Besides that, I’ve had the opportunity to work with fantastic directors in interesting and versatile roles. But I’ve also enjoyed the compulsory partying and fun-loving. With other production companies you can work in an humourless manner; with Solar Films that is not possible.
Many of my most cherished memories are connected with partying. I will remember in my retirement rocking chair how:
– Markus passed out in the cabin of a bunch of young ladies, his face full of smeared ink. We had told the girls that Markus is the singer Jore Marjaranta – and they were young enough to believe us. “You can’t leave Jore here, not in that shape”. The plead of the ladies was ringing to deaf ears, as we were already getting into a taxi, to carry on partying.
Now that you’ve sobered up, do you still think making a movie about Matti Nykänen is a good idea?
– Sikke (line producer) gave us an order in Turku – where we were promoting Bad Boys – to drink so much that it would make a big dent in Sedu’s wallet. We had been issued “all inclusive” bracelets to his nightclub and for some reason, the arrangements of the evening had upset someone in our crew. As instructed by Sikke, we acted out like the (movie) brothers we were and ordered around 500 cocktails (a conservative estimate) and openly handed them out to the patrons and hangers-on.
Bad boys destroyed a hotel room!
– Petteri Ahomaa pulled his dislocated hand (also suffering from multiple fractures) back into place himself at the Jyväskylä Central Hospital.
– Antti Jokinen tried to pass the immigration at the Warsaw airport, using the DNA of his tooth as a way to identify himself.
– Antti Jokinen threw a drunken man (who had attacked me) out of the bar of Hotel Kämp. The man ended up head first on the street and Antti was rewarded with the man’s court claim for a torn shirt and a broken watch – despite that his first comment to the police patrol arriving to the scene was: “This is my fault and I’d like to apologize”.
– Jussi Lepistö was in the sauna compartment of a luxury hotel in Moscow, dipping his testicles in his pint of beer, between sips.
– Rampe Toivonen repeatedly allowed us to use his cell phone on the back seat of our tour bus and didn’t seem to mind that people – like the singer Paula Koivuniemi or some minister at the time – received several very bold confessions in the form of text messages.
– Aleksi Mäkelä was badly shocked after entering a hotel room, where Lauri Nurkse was playing doctor games with his date. “Oh my God!” was the only thing Aleksi managed to say, trying to catch his breath.
– Rampe Toivonen got lost during his daily run in Tallinn.
– Rampe Toivonen got lost during his daily run in Gothenburg.
– The dragon statue (the award for the best movie) was lost, only a few seconds after Aku Louhimies and Markus received that in Gothenburg – the same festival where Rampe decided to keep up his daily running routines at least in a point-two-intoxicated-state.
– Matti Nykänen made a phone call to Rampe from the Oslo airport, threatening to kill him – after Matti realized that the per diems for Norway had been paid in crowns instead of euros.
– Aleksi Mäkelä was snoring behind the video village, when we were filming “the-blowing-up-the-safe-scene” in a sandpit in Nummela.
– My grandmother was crying, when a two-page headline in “7 days” magazine screamed: “Bad boys destroyed a hotel room!”, despite the fact that one of the inserts declared “Jasper didn’t take part in the mayhem” (the other insert said, by the way: “Urine and stool on the walls”…!).
I also remember how Markus rushed to my and Aleksi’s hotel room in southern France at 7 AM, asking: “Now that you’ve sobered up, do you still think making a movie about Matti Nykänen is a good idea?”
When I won the Finnish Film Award for the best actor for my role in “Lionheart”, it was self-evident that I would thank Markus Selin and Aleksi Mäkelä in my acceptance speech first. I have said countless times, that no other producer or director would’ve had the guts – or the nerve – to cast an actor who had just quit a soap opera. It is exactly this madness, this open-mindedness and this will to break the rules and norms, what makes the spirit of Solar – and also is the second secret to success. The first one is the partying, of course.