A feature film produced with young trainees premiered in Finnish cinemas

The 10th anniversary of Kino Visio, the youth film center and cinema in Sotkamo, Finland, was celebrated with the premiere of a full-length film produced by Versova Puu ry and Kajawood Studios on Friday, March 31. This film was also a main project of the Cultural Fund of Kainuu region. The grant was awarded in 2020, when the film production started. Filming took place in the summer of 2021.

From left, Saara Elina (Sofia), Miska Kajanus (Johannes) and Roope Kovalainen (Sebastian) © Black Lion Pictures

Thu 30th of March 2023

Versova Puu ry, Kajawood Studios and Frozen Flame Pictures co-produced a drama comedy “Detour to Father“. The film was distributed to theaters in Finland by Black Lion Pictures.

The movie tells a tale of a socially awkward 40-year-old Johannes when he tries to reach his dying father before it’s too late, but his journey from the city of Tampere to Kajaani can be surprisingly long if you don’t go via Jämsä.

Several young trainees were part of the professional production team working side-by-side with professionals.

Special youth work supervisor Kari-Pekka Vehkaoja states that producing of a full-length film had been brewing for a long time on his mind. In the past, Versova Puu ry has produced numerous short films and other video productions. The youngsters of the previously mentioned association are enthusiastic and motivated to learn film making from professionals.

– When we started planning this project, we evaluated if it would be possible to produce a full movie with our youngsters, says one of the producers Miika J. Norvanto.

According to him, the process of making a feature film takes 2-3 years even if there were only 20 shooting days.

– It required a lot of preliminary work. We needed to think how to keep such a big project together and engage the young people, and to make a real movie out of it, he continues.

Saara Elina and Roope Kovalainen being interviewed © Kajawood Studios

Producers Kari-Pekka Vehkaoja, Miika J. Norvanto and Timo Puustinen discussed with the youngsters what kind of themes could be used in the film and put together a story, from which the director Joonas Makkonen created the final script.

– The story began to take shape with the help of brainstorming and ideas from the young people. “Johannes” was quickly found as the clear main character. Before I joined the project myself, there was already this idea of a main character who gets into a kind of adventure against his will, says the film’s director and screenwriter Joonas Makkonen.

Joonas Makkonen got to try out a new visual look while making the film. This was also his first film made entirely in Finnish.

Miska Kajanus, who plays the main character, “Johannes”, says that he and Joonas Makkonen have been working together for years, so it was easy for him to join in this production. He especially enjoyed the participation of young people in the project.

One of the youngsters of Versova Puu ry, Helmi Huotari considers the experience educational and is grateful for the equal treatment she and the other young people received on the filming set.

– We all worked equally and everyone helped when needed. The trainees were allowed to be involved and not just making errands for the professionals. Especially I remember working as a shooting secretary, Helmi Huotari describes.

According to Miska Kajanus, young trainees should be included in all future film productions, because they are a great source of inspiration for the professionals.

Peyman Iyânah, the cinematographer of the film, also agrees with Miska’s opinion.

– Everyone was a one big family, says Saara Elina, who played Sofia Niemi in the film.

– I hope we succeeded in creating a feel-good movie, says Joonas Makkonen.

– Although there are serious themes here, the film is still easy to watch, describes Kari-Pekka Vehka-oja.

– The film is a love letter to Finland. It acts as a kind of mirror for all the different personalities that we have, Miska Kajanus says.


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