Jani Pösö • Producer of Snot and Splash
“Kids are humans too, just not as tall as the adults”
by Marta Bałaga
- Cineuropa chatted to Jani Pösö, producer of Snot and Splash, which was awarded the Eurimages Co-production Development Award during the Junior Co-production Market at Cinekid
At this year’s edition of the Cinekid Junior Co-production Market, the Eurimages Co-production Development Award and €20,000 went to Snot and Splash. The film is a crazy comedy-adventure centred on two brothers who are trying to catch a mysterious thief who is stealing ice-fishing holes from the lake. The project is the latest collaboration between director Teemu Nikki and producer Jani Pösö, the Finnish duo behind the likes of Lovemilla [+see also:
film profile], Euthanizer [+see also:
interview: Teemu Nikki
film profile] and Helsinki-based production company It’s Alive, now also featuring Ari Matikainen as a producer. Cineuropa talked to Jani Pösö about Snot and Splash.
Cineuropa: Your screenwriter, Ilja Rautsi, already told me that the film is based on the children’s books by Juice Leskinen, the iconic Finnish singer-songwriter recently portrayed in a biopic by Teppo Airaksinen. Books I didn’t know he even wrote.
Jani Pösö: Yes and it’s actually a really cool story. What happened, to explain in a really simplified way, is that Juice wrote them when his kid was at the right age to enjoy them. The critics liked them, they sold well, everything was great and then the publisher went bankrupt in the early 1990s. The bigger publishing house bought it all out and then went bankrupt as well, then an even bigger one bought it out and guess what? It went bankrupt again. After that, the books were practically lost. That’s why nobody knows about them!
It almost seems like one of these “cursed” stories, why would you even touch it?!
Jyrki Arnikari, the director of photography who has worked with us quite a lot, got very sick one day and ended up reading it, to kill the time. Then he called me, directly from the hospital, saying: “When I get better, let’s make a film about this! It’s a good idea and you guys should do it.” I suddenly remembered that one of my childhood friends gave me one of the books as a birthday present – when I turned 30 years old [laughter]. They were these weird, anarchistic stories, so he naturally assumed I would like them. That’s how it started.
What’s so fascinating is that these books, even though they contain some stuff that is clearly outdated, are all about standing on the right side of the world. They promote tolerance and taking care of nature, while also representing who Juice really was. I remember, in the 1980s when Finland made an initiative for Nordic countries to be declared as a “nuclear-free” area, and everyone was trying to figure out what the hell it really meant, Juice declared his own backyard to be a “nuclear-free” zone! This guy ran for president at one point – he was a very political person in his own way, treated it as a social critique, while of course being that perpetually drunk Finnish artist.
The Cinekid jury [Dorien van de Pas, Derk van den Berg and Anette Unger] really appreciated the fact that it’s bound to be an environmentally friendly story as well, with kids portrayed as the ones fighting to save the world, a bit like Greta Thunberg if you will.
This has been there from the start, as a core idea. The film shows that the world’s waste disposal system is collapsing, so in a way, it is based on a true story! The whole part about the missing ice-holes exists in the books, it’s one of the longest arcs, but we are going a little more sci-fi than Juice did, while still showing the whole conspiracy of the people who are running this small town. There are a lot of things in these books that we have fallen in love with, short stories and song lyrics. Or poems that could be then turned into songs. If you think about how much material there is, it’s enough for a few more films and one TV show. In Juice’s case, so much of his work is based on language. It’s all very Finnish, and so is the film in a way. But we have taken some liberty with it in order to make it more visual. If we succeed, there could be more of these things coming our way.
With the Eurimages Co-production Development Award and the €20,000 that come with it, how are you planning to use this money right now?
We will immediately throw it into development. We are going to develop the script a little bit more, begin storyboarding and just try out different things. Figuring out if, for some scenes, we should turn to VFX effects or build it all in the studio. With this kind of film, it’s pretty easy to spend this kind of money, but of course it helps. So we will continue as actively as we did before, even though now we finally don’t need to take any breaks. What we want to do now, in November for example, is to close deals with co-production countries.
It’s interesting because, with children’s films, it seems like everyone always has the best of intentions. But our intention is not to make a good children’s film, it’s to make a good film, period. We need to remember that kids are humans too. Just not as tall as the adults.
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