Film Tampere trends: more and bigger international productions, interesting novelties from Finland2.1.2024
An easy-going atmosphere, the availability of skilled workforce, the regional production incentive managed by Film Tampere – this is why more and more audiovisual productions are made in Tampere, Finland. The production incentive has been updated at the beginning of 2024. It is now more strongly aimed at attracting international productions.
In the autumn of 2023, the horror movie Svalta was filmed in Tampere and its surroundings. It is produced by XYZ Films, an American company that also produced Dual, filmed in Tampere in 2020.
Inland Film Company entrepreneur Klaus Heydemann, who was in charge of Svalta's production services in Tampere, estimates that the development of the audiovisual industry has produced good results in the Tampere region.
– Film Tampere, production companies and other players in the AV industry have been working hard to make Tampere the leading AV centre in Finland. As a result, it was easy for us to come to Tampere to film Svalta, and find all the services we needed, says Heydemann.
According to Heydemann, it is particularly important that there is a sound understanding of the film production’s requirements in the region. The players outside of the AV industry need to understand them as well.
– For example, building flexibility into Svalta's accommodation plans worked really well in cooperation with a local service provider, and a Tampere-based car rental company offered us incredibly good service, Heydemann lists practical examples.
The landscapes of the Tampere region are becoming part of the story, where a serial killer on the run ends up on a family's holiday island. Svalta was written by Nick Frost, known for his indie films. Frost also played a lead role in Svalta together with Aisling Bea.
– On a Nordic scale, Svalta can easily be regarded as a large-scale production, and in addition, one of its international distributors is Universal Pictures, says Heydemann.
Fire Monkey Productions: Deception
The crime series Deception (Finnish title: Kerma) takes place in Helsinki, but it was mainly filmed in the Tampere region. Fire Monkey Productions saw at an early stage that it would be both economically and productively reasonable to shoot the series in the Tampere region.
This was partly due to the production incentive of Film Tampere, but also due to favourable logistical conditions in the region.
– Filming is much easier in the Tampere region, as the distances are only a third of those in the capital region, both in terms of kilometres and time, says Hannu Kalliolahti, CEO of Fire Monkey Productions.
– Fire Monkey Productions makes series for international distribution only. Our series have 6 to 8 parts each and they always have a budget of several million euros, says Kalliolahti.
In the summer of 2021, Fire Monkey Productions was filming in Tampere a drama series Enemy of the People which has already been sold to many European countries. At that time Fire Monkey was convinced that their future productions might also be made in Tampere.
It was due to the relaxed atmosphere of the Tampere region, the competent crew and the general positive attitude towards AV productions in all levels.
– Ordinary people are sympathetic towards filming, as do companies and city organisations. When filming both Enemy of the People and Deception, we were welcomed, for example, to many locations in the premises of companies and the City, says Kalliolahti.
Take Two Studios: Lahti 2001
Lahti 2001 drama series happens almost entirely in Lahti, and tells the story of the doping scandal in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. The production was still very much Tampere-centered.
– Tampere was our main filming location, two-thirds of the shooting was done in the Tampere region, and the rest in Lahti. The team was mainly from Tampere and also the equipment we used, says producer Sara Norberg of Take Two Studios.
Norberg says that there was no need to make compromises when it came to filming locations. All of them were found in the Tampere region: such as Helsinki-Vantaa airport, the president's office, various sports-related facilities…
– There are highly professional location managers in Tampere, and they listened to our wishes and scouted for options, says Norberg.
Lahti 2001 was produced with domestic funding, and it is aiming for international distribution. Doping seems to be universally interesting.
Availability of skilled local labour
There have been major changes in the Tampere region’s audiovisual industry in the last few years. The number, scale and internationality of productions have been increasing, as well as local AV expertise.
In the Lahti 2001 production, an effort was made to recruit as many employees as possible from the Tampere region to the film crew.
– I especially remember how things went smoothly from the day one. Most of the team members already knew each other and each other's ways of working from previous productions, says Norberg.
The interviewed producers estimate that there are top professionals in the Tampere region today, but for now, however, maybe only for one production at a time. Heydemann predicts that, as years and productions accumulate, it will also generate even more qualified AV professionals for the region.
– We will not hesitate to bring productions to Tampere in the future and staff them with locals. We are currently having discussions about at least one big production that would be heading to Tampere, says Heydemann.
Investing in studio facilities
Film Tampere has identified seasonality as one of the challenges of the region’s AV business: the busiest time of the year is from May to September. Investing in the region’s studio infrastructure is a way to mitigate the off-season situation.
– If there is work available evenly throughout the year, the skilled workforce will not spread out to the world. So, more studio space is needed in order to attract productions and jobs here during the off-season, says Fanny Heinonen, Program Director of Film Tampere.
Film Tampere has also cooperated deeply with educational institutions in the audiovisual sector, for the schools to produce experts for the current and real needs of AV business. Attracting qualified professionals to the Tampere region is possible, according to Heinonen, but it's also quite complex.
– I think that the attraction is generated by our long-term cooperation. We are profiling Tampere as the city of experiences, so that top professionals and their families would want to be a part of it, says Heinonen.
Tampere’s revised production incentive
For the year 2024, the City of Tampere has increased the production incentive budget and revised the granting criteria. The aim is to make Tampere's incentive system more impactful and appealing to international productions.
The updated discretionary granting criteria for the 10 % production incentive are internationality and scale; benefits for regional economics and the city image. All of them do not need to be met simultaneously.
– A comprehensive assessment of the City's strategic goals and the benefits to the local creative ecosystem will determine whether the production incentive is granted, says Heinonen.
Additional marketing support can be 0–5% of the production costs incurred in the region. The discretionary marketing support will prioritise international productions.
– The production incentive is a good fertilizer for the organic growth of the Tampere region's AV sector and strengthens the infrastructure. The incentive attracts productions, and production companies want to be where the action is, Heydemann sums up.
Film Tampere year 2023:
- 15 incentive decisions, i.e. productions supported by Film Tampere
- includes serial productions, films and documentaries
- regional benefit: a record-breaking 8,636,000 euros
Other international highlights:
- the world premiere of the Swedish disaster film The Abyss (Swedish title: Avgrunden) at the Tampere City Hall on 11 September
- fantasy horror comedy There's Something In The Barn
- Lynx Man
- Sisu, production incentive decision for VFX from 2022, Finnish premiere in 2023 (trailer).
Author: Päivi Stenroos