Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Matkan loppu

The trip has ended and we're all home now. Yes, I know, eleven days have not been commented in this diary, but believe me: it was impossible, we were constantly doing things. Don't worry, you will read and see photos from all the days, but the posts will be shorter for sure. I don't remember all those details, which anyway were mostly uninteresting, and it took me a lot of time to write that much. But because the documentary is still a long way ahead, maybe you'll still find it interesting to read about what you're going to see, even if it's not in "real time" any more. Am I right?

This was an awesome experience, rounded up with the biggest fun on Saturday in Oulu. Now it feels extremely weird to be back home, it's like seven months have gone by...

You'll hear from us.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Day two: 2 Sorvalis, 1 forest

In the morning of Wednesday 29th, Leo and I got up early and immediately went out to a calm place to prepare the day's session, which would be one of the most important ones, if not the most important of all: we got to interview Henri and Ville together, and it's the only day in the two weeks we're here, so yeah. Better not to blow this one. We actually spent a lot of time discussing stuff. The plan was going to the forest, filming interviews for 4 hours, then they would leave and we would stay to film the surroundings and record ambient sound. However, while we were writing questions and separating blocks, we started an online conversation with Henri which then became a 3-way phone call and then back online and then we called Nikky and everything started to drift and drift and in the end all the timings were different and a new location was added: Henri's home.

Henri made us an awesome map

While all this was happening, Alexis and Pillau were at home, getting different instructions from us every ten minutes or sometimes fifteen. Then they came to find us, we made them wait again, they went for a walk during which they found a cool park/cemetery, and eventually the four of us went shopping together. Later, at home, Pillau made some awesome quesadillas, which he calls cuesidilios. Then again, we all call Alexis Alexis (instead of Alexí) and Leo calls me Éibol. Conclusion: none of us can speak, but that's why we are behind the microphones, not in front of them. And the cuesidilios were delicious.

While he was cooking, Alexis and I went to the car rental place behind the train station to add him as a driver, which we hadn't done the first day because he hadn't arrived yet and we didn't have his driving license. We were attended by the same guy as the previous time, whom we will hereinafter call The Efficient Viking. He's so awesome. He's your typical Viking, blonde, long hair, blue eyes, strong looks, super handsome, and he sits up perfectly straight and talks and behaves as formally as a British butler. He's tremendously efficient. Gets shit done in a correct and timely manner. The Efficient Viking. If all the assistants were like him, the world would be a more efficient place. After exiting that temple of effectiveness and passing the brass trio that still continued to play the fucking Pa-Panamericano after ten or fifteen minutes (goddamned Pa-Panamävitetty that was) we went to the shopping centre where Pillau and I had bought the SIM card to try to find my stegosaurus pin, obviously to no avail, as two days had passed since then. If the Efficient Viking was in charge, places like this would have a Lost & Found office for stegosaurus pins. But he's not. He only rents out cars, which is a perfectly respectable job but doesn't get this kind of offices created. Pity.


After lunch, we jumped in the car, picked up Nikky and headed to the place on Henri's map, which, as you may be interested to know, is the place where not only the cousins used to hang out when they were young(er!, sorry!), but also where they recorded the footsteps and the water sound for the Tämä ikuinen talvi demo. So now you know where to go for pilgrimage. Fuck Santiago de Compostela. We arrived only a few minutes before Ville and Henri and started working on the setup, which actually took a rather long time, because the ground of a forest isn't as stable as the floor of a, say, kitchen, and the sun and the shadows can't be controlled as easily as, say, kitchen lights. We wanted to take a couple of camping chairs with us, and we could actually get them, but they had backs and arms, which didn't suit Mr. Director's vision, and anyway we found something a zillion times better: a fallen tree branch! One part had an ant colony ("we call them piss ants, because of their yellow colour, and they are very aggressive, they really fuck you up if they bite you") but it was easy to avoid, and soon we were filming.

Photo by Nikky Holmes

The location with the improvised bench

The topics we discussed can be revealed, because I'm sure anyone who knows who Henri and Ville Sorvali are can guess them: the early days of the band and everything around it. It was a very informative session, and then they had the idea of re-enacting the recording of the footsteps for the abovementioned intro. While three guys were setting up cameras and sound for that, Nikky did a quick photoshoot with the cousins.

After the historical re-enactment, we did the second part of the interview in a different spot, and those shots will probably be among the most beautiful ones in the documentary. It was a great session from all points of view—visual, informative and entertaining. So beautiful that it would be a spoiler to show the exact shots, but you can get an idea:

"Par contre, je me suis fait bouffer par les moustiques"


Filming in the forest took a shitload of time because there were three setups and they were all pretty complicated, plus we had to move everything back and forth all the time, but fortunately we are in the Finnish summer, which means 20 hours of daylight (and lots of hungry mosquitos as well, but that's another story... well, ask Alexis what his eardrums felt when Henri murdered a mosquito by slapping it when it was standing right on his hidden microphone*). The plan was to be at Henri's at 20:00, but I think we arrived at 21:30 or something like that. We filmed in the garage, which was full of Ikea boxes. Alexis looked at me, pointed at them and said, "Jumalten Ikea," which made me laugh like an idiot for five minutes. Oh, and the drumset with which Marko recorded Suden uni and Voimasta ja kunniasta was there as well! The cousins had had the idea of being filmed while emptying a box full of tapes and magazines from the nineties, which in a way seemed like it would be kinda awkward because they had to speak English to each other, but actually worked pretty well. After that, the proper interviews. We only finished after midnight, i.e. wayyyyyy behind the schedule, but it was worth it: again, very good shots and tremendously revealing interviews. Besides, we got to see lots of old memorabilia; Alexis and I especially had to be careful not to drool on all those tapes, magazines (including both issues of Meathook'd) and even the 4-tracker with which Tämä ikuinen talvi was recorded. For example, here is the original Metsä tape from which all the 215 copies were made, for your eyes only:

After finishing, we went back to Helsinki with Ville, dropped him at his place, came home, had dinner, emptied the cards, checked some of the footage, laughed at Pillau's shirt falling in front of the camera without anyone noticing and ALMOST ruining a great shot but still leaving very good material usable, and went to bed.

Now enjoy the rest of Nikky's photos.

This one is beyond awesome, if you ask me

...and then some more from other cameras and cellphones. Click on them to see them bigger. Right click - open link in a new tab to see them full-size.

*This is called a lavalier. I'm learning so much!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mitja and his boat

Photo by Nikky Holmes

Day 2: I still don't have my dinosaur pin. Chances of finding it diminish.

Today, Tuesday 28th, was the first real production day. In the morning, Pillau and Alexis went out to do some testing and find out how all the equipment worked together, Alexis's sound stuff (which he brought with him) and Pillau's cameras (rented). In the meantime, Leo and I spent time on the script. We prepared tomorrow's (Wednesday's) session with Henri and Ville first, because it will be the only one with the two together and probably the most important in the whole documentary; and today's with Mitja, which, yes, was today, but much easier to prepare, because we knew we would be relaxed and because Mitja's availability during the production period is very flexible. Then we went to the place we would meet Mitja, ate some sandwiches from the nearby shopping centre Verkkokauppa, then he arrived...

...and we went to the harbour, docks, whatever. The boat was out of the water because he needed to do some maintenance work on it. We interviewed him while he was doing it. It took a while to start; first the technicians had to prepare all their toys. For me this was very interesting because I had never seen filmmakers filmmaking. It's actually amazing how a set-up works, the ritual of mounting the mechanical parts, the positioning is hilarious, etc., but then the coordination is perfect and they get super cool shots. We divided the session into four blocks, with four different topics and four camera positions. See some of Nikky's photos:

(Some are censored for the time being. No spoilers, goddamnit!)

After that, we went to buy an additional hard disk drive for the data backup (we're using 3 disks of 4 TB, that's some seriously secure backup) and we came back home. I spent the rest of the evening writing here while the others prepared check lists and spoke about cards and cables.

Finally, delight your eyes with my cellphone pics.

The star waiting for his turn

A retarded touareg

Can you spot Alexis capturing ambient audio?

Weh! Weh! Look at me! I have a rectangle! Weh! You're not looking!

The Windmobile

The star gets his attention

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Shit just got real

Tuesday, June 28th, 22:06 Helsinki time. We are in the apartment after a long session with Mitja and his boat.

But... WAIT! How did we get here?

On Thursday 23rd, I had a plane to London which first got delayed by 1 hour, then got delayed by 3.5 hours and eventually got cancelled. It was super cool to spend hours in the airport struggling to find out 1) what was going on, 2) what was going to happen and 3) where my luggage was. I had to deal with one normal person, one moron, one incredible asshole and two really nice people who, contrary to stereotypes, were the security guys. I arrived home at 5:30 AM, and the following (same) day I spent 3 more hours going back to the airport and finally getting my luggage (from the nicest person ever). Lotsa time wasted and hundreds of euros lost in a non-refunded London-Helsinki flight and a last-moment-booked and therefore very expensive Budapest-Helsinki flight.

Anyway. On Sunday 26th, everything happened as originally planned: Pillau and I arrived at Helsinki and went to sleep at Nikky's place. There I saw, for the first time, the Heritage box set. We also got to meet Pirkko.

"She's really long!" -Pillau

We were talking until a bit after 2:00 AM (we had arrived at half past midnight or so) but we didn't get to see the night. A proper night. It was a lazy night all the time. Not really nighty. And soon it was day again. Like at three. At 9:00 we were awake again.

Monday. Pillau and I left for the train station to get the car we had rented. We chose a car with a big boot (station wagon aka estate aka una ranchera que ni las de Chavela Vargas) because we need to fit all the equipment. Then we bought a SIM card and the horriblest thing happened: I lost my dinosaur pin!! It's not funny at all because I had had it since I was 10 years old or so. I have no idea how it happened but it did. At least I lost it in a grand place and moment: "in Helsinki while preparing for filming a documentary about Moonsorrow."

After losing that very dear possession, we went to get the equipment. We spent a SHITLOAD of money on that. More than on 4 people's planes (cancellation included), accommodation and car—combined. We went there, got soaked because of the crazy heavy rain and lack of umbrella (seriously, Finland? Was that necessary??) and spent almost two hours at the rental place checking everything. When Pillau was done inspecting machines and poles, he started playing Tetris to fit everything in the car; I tried to help him but he slapped my hand and screamed "Director!! My job!!!" (disclaimer: this may or may not be slightly dramatised). In the meantime, Leo arrived from London, but he didn't meet us; instead, he went to the apartment directly.

The pro and his toys

Then we did uninteresting things such as discussing things with the owner of the apartment, having lunch, etc. Leo and I had to discuss the state of the budget, which we did in a bar that, according to him, "either only men go for evening drinks in Finland, or this is a..." and that's how I had my first experience in a gay bar. The toilets, despite there being two separate ones, didn't have the man/woman sign on the doors, it was curious. After that, we picked up Pillau from home and headed towards Nikky's place again, to discuss with Mr. Director when she will be with us (she has to work on other stuff, so she isn't available all the time). After that, we met Mitja, who lent us a monitor, and we went for a beer together: Mitja, Leo, Pillau and I. This was a great conversation because we confirmed a lot of cool stuff concerning boats and islands, we agreed on how the interviews would be conducted and how they should be approached under documentary settings, he offered us all kinds of archive material, and countless etceteras. Really cool. And after that we went back to the apartment. After midnight I went to the station to pick up Alexis, and the team was complete.

The headquarters

The sky of Helsinki at 0:49 AM

P.S.: But where's the story with Mitja's boat? In the next post!

P.P.S.: Remember you can subscribe to this blog if you enter your email address in that box near the top of the page. Remember you really, really want to subscribe, you've just been stopping yourself for some reason.

P.P.P.S.: Bonjour Mme Orseau, ravi d'avoir votre intérêt !

Friday, 17 June 2016


Syntyville, kuoleville,

If you're reading this, you probably know what this is all about: a documentary about the Finnish metal band Moonsorrow, titled Home of the Wind. A History of Moonsorrow and financed through a crowdfunding campaign. After more than a year in pre-production, and having raised over €23,000 (original goal: 19,000), at the end of June and the beginning of July a team of filmmakers will be in Helsinki doing what the compound word “filmmaker” clearly implies: drinking, partying and making cellphone videos of each other sleeping wasted while the others paint dicks on their face with a permanent marker.

The time is getting closer. Thanks to your support, next week we will fly to Finland and film a documentary. Two of us will arrive on Sunday 26th, two more will arrive on Monday 27th, the fifth one lives there already, and on Tuesday we will start recording. On July 9th we'll travel with the band to the Jalometalli festival in Oulu, and on Monday 11th we will realize it's fly back home day and we aren't even finished with test takes.

Now, who's “we”? Meet the production team:

Leo Aragón, director. The founder of Jörmungandr Media, the guy who started it all. The whole documentary project was his idea. You have seen his videos, all the teasers and the pitch video were done by him—with other people's help in specific areas, but the whole editing is his. The leader of the pack, a Jack-of-all-audiovisual-trades who masters (at least to a degree) the areas everyone else will cover, he will be co-ordinating the rest of us. Argentinian, based in England.

Grilo do Demo (aka Abel), scriptwriter. The author of the Unofficial Moonsorrow Biography and Moonsorrow-savvy, will take care of the interviews. Can hardly tell a Nikon from a Seat but writes acceptably. Spanish, based in Hungary.

Alexander Pillau, director of photography. The authority on everything image-related. He can list seemingly nonsensical camera features and characteristics and models in an unbelievable speed. He's so good he was a part of the team months before he even knew about it. You can see some of his previous work at AlexPillau.com. German, based in England.

Alexis Orseau, sound technician. The Pillau of sound, to cut it short. He sees lots of numbers and parameters where a simple mortal just sees a fucking microphone. A last-minute addition to the team, after his great work with the teasers during pre-production. French, based in France.

Nikky Holmes, photographer. With a great eye for detail and photographic opportunity, she will graphically document the most meaningful moments, both during filming and behind the scenes. Able to make art out of the dullest scene. Check out her work at Nikky Holmes Photography and HelRocks. Australian, based in Finland.

Our schedule is pretty tight and I can't promise I will write a proper diary, or even a proper “weekary,” but I will do my best. Also, you can see in the layout of this blog that I wasn't born to be a graphic designer, or anything visual-related; Leo will probably want to do something about it and realize he doesn't have time and get frustrated and not sleep and spend the night preparing a better layout only to have me fuck it up the next day with a stupid internet-stolen unedited image embedded in a poorly formatted post while he can't work properly due to the lack of sleep from the previous night. So back to booze and permanent markers. Crowdfunding backers will probably enjoy the result anyway. I mean, come on, it is funny footage.

By the way, we had planned some cool leather digibooks if we reached €24,000 in the campaign, which we didn't, and several people have asked what will happen with them. Well, we won't be making any digibooks this time. We were really looking forward to them, but you know what? After all, we're happy the campaign ended this way. We raised enough funds for adding a sound technician to the production team and we can afford the best of the technical budget options we had on the table, all of which will improve the final product greatly. Leather digibooks would be cool, but we think it's way more important to have a better documentary rather than a prettier container for an inferior film. Besides, we have had some ideas about a different, separate book, to be worked on when the documentary is finished, and way cooler and “deluxer” and more complete and with more interesting stuff. We will see. Let's focus on one thing at a time, though, because now—it's documentary time!

Because everyone is probably expecting inside info and general gossiping from a production diary, I will end this post with the dialogue the scriptwriter and the sound technician held when the crowdfunding goal of €19,000 was reached in the evening of Friday 10th, 2016. Find the full transcript here.