Finland is following in the footsteps of its Nordic neighbors and is fast becoming a preferred destination for foreign co-productions, thanks in no small part to its upfront cashback tax incentive introduced in 2017.
Despite a slight drop in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, figures show audiovisual industry growth of over 40% over the last five years, evenly split between co-production and service production.
In addition to the nationwide discount of 25%, productions can receive up to 40% funding thanks to top-ups from regional film commissions.
Other support mechanisms include public broadcaster YLE and the Promotion Center for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK), as well as a growing number of private investors such as VOD platform Elisa Viihde and Aurora Studios, who are actively working to bring Finnish content to the world.
One of the turning points in international co-productions came in 2020 with a Hollywood film shot entirely in Finland. Riley Stearns’ Sundance-later Dual, which starred Aaron Paul and Karen Gillan, is being co-produced by XYZ Films, which has since formed an alliance for further collaborations with regional agency Film Tampere. It was co-funded by IPR.VC, a Finland-based venture capital firm investing in Scandinavian content with international potential.
Recently, US director Cinqué Lee, Spike Lee’s younger brother, decided to shoot his upcoming film A Rare Grand Alignment entirely in Finland.
It is an American-Norwegian-Finnish co-production and coming-of-age story about three boys stranded in a cable car high up in the Norwegian mountains. Around 90% of the film was shot at co-producer Mikko Kodisoja’s state-of-the-art virtual production studio in Helsinki, Fireframe Studios, with just a few additional days of outdoor shooting in the Northern Lapland region.
“We don’t have big mountains in Finland, but we were able to make it because we could create them on the virtual set around the cable car,” Kodisoja tells Variety. “Our goal is to democratize virtual production. At the moment it’s mostly used for big-budget movies; You rarely see it in smaller films. We want to make these kinds of films.”
Starring Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit, Silent Night), Charlie Price (The Great, Strike), and Felix Jamieson (Raised by Wolves, Game of Thrones), A Rare Grand Alignment ‘ is due to be released later this year.
Most of the post-production was also done at one of Finland’s leading visual effects houses, Troll VFX, whose recent jobs include the VFX on Tom Hardy’s Netflix debut Havoc, another XYZ production.
Finnish filmmakers are gearing up to meet global demand for Nordic. Titles to look forward to in 2023 and 2024 include Disney’s first Nordic original, To Cook a Bear, produced by Anagram of Sweden and overseen by Aurora, and Netflix’s first Finnish series, ” Dance Brother” co-produced by Endemol Shine with YLE Finland.