Tero Kaukomaa • Managing Director of Blind Spot Pictures
by Annika Pham
08/10/2007 - Tero Kaukomaa’s production company Blind Spot Pictures is now 10 years old. He was just named Producer of the Year with Petri Jokiranta by the Association of Finnish Film Producers and their film A Man’s Job [trailer] is the Finnish entry for an Oscars this year. Kaumomaa told Cineuropa about his vision for Blind Spot, for filmmaking in Finland and co-production in Europe.
Cineuropa: Blind Spot is exactly 10 years old. What have been the key developments and landmark films for your company?
Tero Kaukomaa: All the films have been a great trip and a learning curve. One thing I’ve been doing from day one with Blind Spot is trying to be active outside of Finland. On this level, there have been some clear developments, but it was AJ Annila’s Jade Warrior [trailer] as a production and financing jungle that tripled our contacts and experience. Also, Aleksi Salmenperä’s two films Producing Adults and A Man`s Job have been very good to work with from this point of view. The stories he wants to tell and the way he is telling them seem to also work with non-Finnish audiences.
I made all these films that I mentioned with Petri Jokiranta, who was my partner in Blind Spot between late 2000 and January 2007. He is now a freelance producer and I’m sole owner of Blind Spot.
What is your current and future strategy for Blind Spot?
We are in production with two international co-productions as a minority co-producer: Jan Troell’s Maria Larsson’s Everlasting Moment [trailer] and Nana Djordjadze’s Rainbowmaker. We are trying to get two films off the ground in Finland and develop another three to four projects. Our next three features will probably be with first-time directors. Falling Angels, which costs just over €1m, will be directed by Heikki Kujanpää, an experienced theatre director who has done quite a few one-hour novel films for television. Punchline will be directed by music video expert Marko Jatkola and will cost just under €1m. Both films are almost ready to shoot and will be 100% Finnish productions. Then there is Iron Sky, a science fiction comedy by Timo Vuorensalo and his producing partner Samuli Torssonen.
Iron Sky will be our first English-language film. It does not mean that we will switch to the English language, but we are very keen to try that to widen the international market potential of our films. As a whole, our strategy is to keep working with quality films and good talent, but also to increase the quantity. Jade Warrior was our first genre film, and we are definitely going to make more.
The Finnish film industry is currently paralyzed by a strike. Was this inevitable and what is the situation now?
I’m not sure it was inevitable but I do hope it will help us gain a better position. The good thing is that now most of the politicians are better informed about the subject and are talking about it more actively. This might help us get closer to our goal. So far, the strike hasn’t affected Blind Spot, but if it lasts much longer the situation will be quite interesting….
What can or should be done to improve feature film production in Finland?
I think there is a broad foundation for new talent who want to make very interesting films for different kinds of audiences. So, in addition to the eternal fight for better content in general, we definitely need more films. There should also be a new system to finance debut features. Plus, depending on the project, in many cases you need bigger budgets to be more competitive in the marketplace.
Personally, I think that one very efficient way of enhancing financing possibilities would be to consider different kinds of tax incentives. The first kind would be aimed at the rising number of rich private investors in Finland, more willing to invest in film. The second one would consist of a set percentage of an automatic refund on production spending in Finland for the increasing number of countries working with Finland.
How could co-production within the Nordic countries and with Europe be improved?
We all just have to be more active and more interested in each other’s [projects]. I think it is also good to keep co-financing as active as co-producing, because co-producing leads many times to something unnatural – some call it "euro-pudding". It’s great that there have been more and better-organized co-production meetings to help producers pitch and network. These opportunities should be developed continuously.