Lights, Camera, Culture Shock: Navigating the Quirks of the UK and Finnish Film Industries
Part 1. A is for Action & Alcohol Olkaa hyvä!
Text: Darren McStay
The eponymous words uttered by a director signalling the commencement of a scene. Understanding these two words is pivotal for newcomers to a Finnish film set as Olkaa Hyvä translates to "ACTION."
Failure to grasp this may render you stranded, dumb-faced, and open-mouthed, stood resembling a dripping wet sack of Makkara (sausage), as the cast and crew stare at you with disdain, mouthing another familiar filmmaker's phrase, "Mitä vittua?" (What the hell?)
But if you don't already know this (like me on my first two shoots here in Finland), you also need to know what it sounds like, and here it is... "OLL-CAR-HOOVER". When you hear that... it's time to MOVE!!!
Next up... Alcohol
Both the UK and Finland are known for their drinking cultures, but when relating to the film industry, they approach it in distinct ways.
In the UK, alcohol has traditionally played a role as a bonding fluid among cast and crew, with it being happily consumed during lunch breaks and after the workday concludes. However, the Finnish film industry follows its own unique approach, where what might be frowned upon in other places is celebrated, and vice versa. Knowing when and where to indulge becomes crucial.
If you're caught sipping a pint with your Karelian pastry from the catering van in Finland, you might find yourself swiftly ejected from the set.
Even after a day's work, most prefer to head home rather than spend more time with you. After all, they have lives, families, and notably, no pubs!
Despite this, Finns are not ones to shy away from a drink. They accumulate the pints from lunches and after-work socials for one grand evening of revelry: the "karonkka." In UK terms, think of it as a boozier wrap party.
In the UK, the after-party tends to be more subdued, as few endure the entire event and are eager to hit the sack promptly. Likely from all the prior after-work socials along the way.
Conversely, in Finland, they pace themselves throughout and then make a concerted effort to catch up.
A tip for those wanting to keep up: save it until the after-party, or stick around for every 100th shot —a well-celebrated shot of Jaloviina (1 star, of course). That everyone is urged to take, lest they anger the god of the Finnish film set! Olkaa hyvä!