Big Game is director Jalmari Helander's second film. His first feature film Rare Exports received world wide attention--and for good reason. It was a very original horror film set around classic Finnish Santa Claus mythology. When Mr. Helander was asked in an interview if he was pretty set on ruining Christmas for a generation of children, this was his response, "Actually, I’m not because…people from America have ruined Christmas for the Finnish people. I’m just taking it back…we also have this old Santa Claus legend and it’s much more interesting than the American one."
This quote is just a small insight into the mind of new storyteller who is very avant-garde, authentic and not afraid to take risks. Here is my interview with Mr. Helander.--Robert A. Mitchell.
I have seen Big Game described as Home Alone meets Rambo? What drew you to the action adventure genre? What inspired you to fuse that genre with sensibilities from films such as Home Alone?
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A BIG FAN OF ACTION AND ADVENTURE. I FEEL THAT I SHOULD INVITE THE AUDIENCE TO SEE SOMETHING THEY CAN'T SEE IN THE EVERYDAY WORLD. SOMETHING THAT THEY COULD EXPERIENCE AN ADVENTURE. THAT'S WHAT I THINK MOVIES ARE FOR. AND FROM THE VERY BEGINNING I FELT, THAT IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO DO ACTION FILM WITH SOME HEART IN IT.
Onni Tommila acted in your first feature Rare Exports. Did you write this film with him in mind to play Oskari the boy who helps outwit the terrorists with the President of the United States? How has he matured as an actor?
WHEN PETRI AND I DECIDED TO GO WITH A YOUNG BOY IN A SCRIPT IT WAS ABSOLUTELY CLEAR THAT BOY WOULD BE ONNI. I ALWAYS LIKE TO THINK THAT I AM REWRITING MY OWN CHILDHOOD IN A WAY. I HAD FEW CONCERNS OF COURSE WITH ONNI AND THE BIGGEST ONE WAS COULD HE ACT SO WELL WITH FOREIGN LANGUAGE. WE DID FEW TESTS AND WE WERE HAPPY TO SEE THAT HE ACTUALLY CAN ACT IN ENGLISH VERY WELL! THERE'S BEEN QUITE A LOT CHANGES OF HOW ONNI ACTS COMPARED TO RARE EXPORTS. IN RARE HE DID NOT HAVE SO BIG RANGE OF FEELINGS HE COULD DO. HE WAS SO YOUNG! BUT NOW, I COULD ASK HIM ALMOST ANYTHING!!! I LOVE THAT LITTLE MAN!
Speaking of the President I for one cannot wait to see Samuel L. Jackson in this role. What did Mr. Jackson tell you when he first read the script?
I ACTUALLY DID NOT SPEAK WITH HIM ABOUT THAT. I HEARD HE REALLY LIKED THE SCRIPT AND I WAS VERY HAPPY ABOUT THAT. FIRST QUESTION HE HAD FOR ME WAS HOW I SEE THE PRESIDENT. IN WHAT STAGE HIS PRESIDENTIAL CAREER HE IS OR WHAT IS HIS POLITICAL STAND. I HAD TO EXPLAIN THAT I REALLY DON'T KNOW. THIS FILM IS NOT ABOUT PRESIDENT OR HIS POLITICAL VIEWS. IT'S ABOUT A MAN WHO IS THE MOST POWERFUL MAN ON THIS PLANET BECAUSE HE IS THE PRESIDENT. THEN YOU TAKE THAT AWAY AND HE'S JUST A MAN WITH A SUIT AND TIE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AND HE HAS TO SURVIVE THAT SITUATION WITH THE HELP OF 13 YEAR OLD BOY.
Some of the stills I have seen from the movie showcase a beautiful and rugged landscape. Can you tell me where you shot the picture and what kind of conditions you, your cast and crew endured while filming?
WE SHOT THE FILM IN GERMANY. THE STUDIO WAS IN MUNICH BUT ALMOST ALL THE LOCATIONS WERE IN THE ALPS IN THE VERY SOUTH PART OF GERMANY. I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED (or did it begin after seeing Cliffhanger?) BIG MOUNTAINS, CLIFFS AND LARGE LANDSCAPES. BUT WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING LIKE THAT YOU HAVE THE ACCEPT THE TERMS. THOSE PLACES ARE HARD TO GET, IT'S A BIG SHOW JUST TO GET EVERYONE TO THE LOCATION EVERY MORNING AND THE WEATHER CAN CHANGE IN A MINUTE. WHEN IT'S CLOUDY YOU ACTUALLY CAN'T SEE OR FILM ANYTHING. IT WAS OUR THIRD SHOOTING DAY WHEN I GOT OUTSIDE IN THE MORNING AND SAW THE MOUNTAINS FROM MY BALCONY. I WAS TERRIFIED AND CHOCKED: THE MOUNTAINS WERE COVERED WITH SNOW!!! IT WAS NOT AN EASY MORNING BUT IN THE END WE SOLVED THE PROBLEM. AND LUCKILY THE WEATHER CAN CHANGE FROM BAD WEATHER TO GOOD AS QUICKLY IT DOES ANOTHER WAY AROUND.
What did you learn from making Rare Exports and how did you apply that knowledge and grow as a storyteller in your second feature film?
WELL, I ACTUALLY MADE MYSELF SOME NOTES AFTER RARE EXPORTS. FOR EXAMPLE THAT IF SOMETHING DOES BOTHER YOU IN A SCRIPT IT MOST DEFINITELY WILL BOTHER YOU WHEN YOU ARE SHOOTING. AND IT WILL BOTHER YOU IN THE EDIT AND IN THE PREMIERE. THE PROBLEMS ALMOST EVER WON'T BE SOLVED ON A SET. PROBLEMS SHOULD BE SOLVED WHEN WRITING A SCRIPT. AND NOW AFTER BIG GAME I HAVE ALSO LEARNED A LOT OF NEW STUFF. CAN'T WAIT TO BE FILMING THE THIRD ONE!!!
What waits audiences who sign on for the adventure that waits in Big Game?
LIKE I SAID BEFORE I AM TRYING TO SHOW AMAZING THINGS TO THE AUDIENCE. TO TAKE THEM INTO AN ADVENTURE. MY GOAL IS TO HAVE LOTS OF PEOPLE WALKING OUT OF THE CINEMA WITH A BIG SMILE ON THEIR FACES.
Fri., Sept. 5th, 11:59 PM, RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 6th, 9:00 PM, SCOTIABANK 12
Sat., Sept. 13th, 2:30 PM, SCOTIABANK 12