Hang on. Let’s back up. After a day of travel, I’ve been sleeping on a sofa at the offices of Energia productions in Tampere, Finland. Not very much - mind you - due to the two hour time difference. Everyone’s been setting up equipment like it’s nine in the morning, but I could swear it was still closer to seven.
Something which is not helped by the fact I’d arrived late the night before and been handed a bottle of rum by someone determined to make a case for Fin’s being the most welcoming culture in the world.
It’s as cold as a fridge outside so to wake myself up I go for a walk and grab some breakfast. So I head out to take my first daylight glimpse of Tampere.
Accidentally, I manage to make brief eye contact with a group of old men sitting on a bench, which I soon find out is a massive taboo here as one stands up and starts getting irate with me in Finnish. I ignore him until he goes away. It is later explained to me that in Finland the most interesting thing to do is stare at is your feet. Always.
Upon my return to the office to discover a pair of scantily clad women throwing themselves from imaginary computer terminals and falling out of chairs.
We are shooting Star Wreck 2pi the Swiss-Norwegian-Finnish spin off to 2005’s “Star Wreck: In The Pirkining” and this is just the kind of thing that is to be expected.
Most of the forty minute film has been shot in the Swiss town of Basel with a new set of characters, but the production team has come here to shoot some important crossover scenes with the original cast to tie both films together.
The Energia team has been a fantastic host. Whilst various extras were being shot to be placed in the background I had a chat with Jarmo Puskala and Antti Hukkanen, two of the guys who make Energia tick. We tried to work out what made British and Finnish comedy so similar; The Fast Show still plays on national TV out here and the self depreciative nature of both cultures provide a lot of the fodder for their respective senses of humour.
In the afternoon Star Wreck’s lead actor Samuli Torssonen arrived to reprise his role as Emperor Pirk. With the help of a crack team of interpreters the script was translated from German to English to Finnish; for the jokes work in all three languages it’s got to be good.
Timo Vuorensola was also on set for an hour to do his scenes as Lt Dwarf. Although he didn’t have his full “Plingon” ridges he quickly got into character and gave a very loud performance in a very short space of time.
The second day of the shoot it was my turn to be made up. I was to be wounded facially. Luckily I’d brought Ena with me to do just that kind of thing. So she started covering me in blood and scars.
I was promptly instructed to throw myself around as if on a ship taking hits from torpedoes. It took a couple of takes for everyone to throw themselves in the right direction. Then to disguise myself I put on a heavy metal wig and shot more sequences of being blown up, injured, running and generally swearing; in German of course.
The production team took advantage of the ‘Wreckamovie’ platform a website for making films collaboratively. This is how they have found people from all over Europe to work on the project. After putting the project online last November forty seven people have joined up to offer advice, help or to work on the film, from concept art through to helping with the post production workflow.
Unfortunately with my time on set at an end, I was shown around the annual fish market where we enjoyed some local fried herring and other delicacies, but as I dig in, I am especially cautious not to make any unexpected eye contact...
Martin Lejeune is an Exeter based filmmaker and Effects Artist, He also enjoys wandering the world as a digital vagabond.
So, here I am running on about three hours sleep, holding a microphone below a man who is painted like a chocolate bar in a heavy metal wig as he barks orders at a battle fleet which is presumably somewhere behind the green screen we’re in front of.