by Sven Triloqvist
Sat Jan 19th, 2013 at 02:05:37 PM EST
With a (partly crowd-funded) production budget of under 10 M, the Finnish "dark science fiction comedy" Iron Sky (released 2012) is at the very high end of Finnish movie budgets, but pocket money in any major movie production country. A typical UK TV drama series (e.g. The Hour) will come in at 1 - 2 M an hour. Marketing budgets can sometimes be double the production budgets once a major distributor picks up a movie, though I doubt if this is the case here. Once a distributor is convinced that a movie has what it takes for a certain audience sector, the showmanship kicks in.
I really liked the movie, though I probably won't watch it again for a couple of years. The script has well thought out and original ideas, variable dialogue (some excellent, some clunky), excellent art direction, world class CGI, variable acting, but considering what they are attempting - the acting (and casting) is great. And world class post production.
I'd compare like with like - say for instance with Mel Brooks' Space Balls. Iron Sky is much funnier IMO. Or maybe compare with one of my favourite obscure movies: Galaxy Quest, which was bigger budget but eventually grossed nearly 100 M bucks.
But there is no real comparison of like with like. This movie emerged from a huge bunch of SF movie fans living in the industrial heart of Finland - many of them unemployed at the time - who, without any kind of budget, put together a full length `student humour' movie called "Star Wreck - In the Perkinning." And then shared a low-res version online for free. It soon became the most watched Finnish movie ever. When they released a Hi-Res DVD, they made enough money to develop Iron Sky. I.e. - they gave a movie for free and people around the world rewarded them. It is more of a phenomenon than a business model - but bear with me.
I have disagreed with TBG in the past on the qualitative results of everyone having the chance of being creative. Yes, Youtube is full of crap - but all of us were once crap at something. How do you get better at something? With motivation. Does formal training help? Yes, often, but it is not essential.
I have no idea what will happen with the Iron Sky group. But they've proved they can make money for a distributor. Knowing them slightly, I doubt if they will `sell out'. The core group connects with a technical guild of dozens, and a fan base of at least tens of thousands - maybe 10 times that. The commitment of the core group is to those people, not to Hollywood or The Nordic TV and Film Fund or anyone else.
In my experience - because I am one of them - there are plenty of discontented professionals who are, and would be, happy to help young people with energy and passion to learn about the prevailing systems and how to exploit them to the benefit of the audience.
I know that what they create will not fully satisfy me. The music will be alien. The movie production values will offend. I won't get the jokes. What they create is not for me. But they will make movies they think are important in some way, and that's enough for me.