Finland Ramps Up Incentives in Competitive Race
Following in the footsteps of its Nordic neighbors, Finland is fast becoming a destination of choice for foreign co-productions, not least thanks to its up-front cash-back tax incentive introduced in 2017.
Despite a slight drop in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, figures show a 40%-plus growth of the audiovisual industry in the past five years, distributed evenly between co-production and service production.
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In addition to the national rebate of 25%, productions can get up to 40% incentive money thanks to top-ups from regional film commissions.
Other support mechanisms include public broadcaster YLE and the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK), as well as a growing number of private investors such as VOD platform Elisa Viihde and Aurora Studios, which are working actively on getting Finnish content out to the world.
One of the turning points in international co-productions came in 2020 with a Hollywood film entirely shot in Finland. Riley Stearns’ “Dual,” which went on to compete at Sundance and stars Aaron Paul and Karen Gillan, is co-produced by XYZ Films, which has since struck an alliance for further collaborations with the regional agency Film Tampere. It was co-funded by IPR.VC, a Finnish-based venture capital firm that invests in Nordic content with international potential.
More recently, U.S. director Cinqué Lee, Spike Lee’s younger brother, chose to film his upcoming film “A Rare Grand Alignment” entirely in Finland.
A U.S.-Norwegian-Finnish co-production, it is a coming-of-age tale about three young boys stranded in a cable car high up in the Norwegian mountains. Some 90% of the film was made in co-producer Mikko Kodisoja’s cutting-edge virtual production studio in Helsinki, Fireframe Studios, with just a few additional outdoor shooting days in the northern Lapland region.
“We don’t have big mountains in Finland, but we were able to pull it off because we could create them on the virtual set around the cable car,” Kodisoja tells Variety. “Our aim is to democratize virtual production. At the moment, it’s mainly used for big-budget movies; you rarely see it in smaller movies. We want to create these types of movies.”
Starring Roman Griffin Davis (“Jojo Rabbit,” “Silent Night”), Charlie Price (“The Great,” “Strike”) and Felix Jamieson (“Raised by Wolves,” “Game of Thrones”), “A Rare Grand Alignment” is set for release later this year.
Most of the post-production was also done in one of Finland’s leading visual effects houses, Troll VFX, whose recent jobs include the VFX on Tom Hardy’s Netflix’ debut “Havoc,” another XYZ production.
Finnish filmmakers are ramping up to fulfil the global demand for Nordic. Titles to look forward to in 2023 and 2024 include Disney’s first Nordic Original, “To Cook a Bear,” produced by Sweden’s Anagram and serviced by Aurora, and Netflix’s first Finnish series,“ Dance Brother,” co-produced with YLE by Endemol Shine Finland.
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