In the beginning of the year I mentioned that I got a job as the publicist of the Finnish-German-Australian scifi movie Iron Sky. I was involved in Star Wreck as Fukov/Festerbester and I’ve been interested in taking part in Iron Sky for years. This year was the first time the combination of schedules, finances and other everyday logistics made it possible for me to actually start to work for the movie.
Iron Sky is not a very traditional movie project, though, and a big part of the people behind it come from a completely different background than the traditional movie business. In a nutshell, in our production company we have our stone cold movie professionals from the more traditional side of the business, and then we have us geeks from the Star Wreck side of things who have a good handle on how the online world works. In the end it seems to me is that the project has managed to combine the best of both worlds.
This month my job took me to the Cannes Film Festival, where filmmakers go to promote their movies to both sellers and distributors – and in our case strongly to the fans also. The traditional way to do this is to meet face to face with people in the innumerable cocktail parties all around the city and to lure people into your office, which you set up in an apartment or a hotel room for the duration of the festival.
Timo wrote an excellent recap of our Cannes escapades in the Iron Sky blog, so I’m not going to repeat everything in here – this is more about my vibes of the trip.
THE GLAMOROUS WORK DAYS
Our accommodation was a large apartment with a large living room, a yard with a pool and several bedrooms. Most of the rooms had double beds, so rather unglamorously me and Pekka, who is an another member of our social media team, had to share one.
My work day consisted mainly of waking up before nine, grabbing some instant coffee and toasts while trying to get the crappy wifi in our apartment to work (two things the French can’t seem to accomplish: a working wifi and halfway sensible locks on doors), and then heading off to the office. It was a nice 15 minute walk down to the seaside and the Grand Hotel where the Iron Sky Lobby was. If I wasn’t in a hurry and on the road alone, I often stopped to grab a tastier coffee on the way from one of the innumerable bakeries.
For me there weren’t that many cocktail parties, and this was by choice. For me they didn’t feel like the place and the method to get the word out in the way and volume I wanted to, so I stuck into what I knew and wanted to do. I spent most of my days sitting in our office and hammering out press releases and keeping up with what’s going on in the net with my laptop. I kept joking that the Cannes trip wasn’t in any way different from my ordinary work week, except that there were palm trees instead outside of my window instead of a brick wall.
People kept pouring in wanting to see our new teaser or to talk to the producer and the director about the movie. Most of them were buyers or distributors, but I did my best to rope in journalists also. One day Terry Gilliam dropped by unannounced, but unfortunately not to check on Iron Sky. I don’t go into a fanboy mode that easily, but Gilliam is definitely one of the filmmakers I really respect – Brazil is pure genius.
We had a figurative fuckton of stuff going on and big things to publicize. First of all, we released our second teaser, which was a pleasure to show around: you know you are in a good position when you are selling a product that you think is so cool it makes cold shivers go down your back even after seeing it forty times already.
There was also a big merchandising deal with EMI, we publicly announced that Laibach will be making the movie score, opened the movie for fan investments that really took off (220 000€ is the latest figure I heard, this in a bit over a week) and of course announced that we’ll be going to Australia to do the studio shootings.
Working with all this stuff was hugely satisfactory. My time was spent tracking who was writing about it and what, fishing out new contacts and sites where to promote the materials, trying to reach new journalists and other interested parties who haven’t heard about Iron Sky, and so on. Seeing the information percolate through the net and the world from the Western world to Africa, China and Russia was hugely impressive. When you know what you are doing, internet is one motherfucker of an information hose.
Also, yours truly managed to make it to the Mark Kermode blog about Iron Sky, and got in an Älymystö shirt too:
THE TIME OFF
One of the weird things about going to the movie festivals to work is that you don’t end up seeing any movies. I didn’t even get accredited, ie. get that pass that gives at least a chance to get into some of the screenings and other events. The only moment when I regretted that was when I found out that Lemmy the Movie was showing in Cannes. Turns out, though, that even if I would have had the accreditation, I wouldn’t have probably got in since I’m not a buyer or a distributor – even journalists had hard time getting in through the doors.
I ended up going out to town only a couple of times, once when we arranged a happy hour in Iron Sky lounge, and the other time in the last evening before heading over back to Finland. On the first night I found out that rich people are suckers: the 15 euro gin & tonics they sell to people in the bigger beachside hotels don’t taste any better than the four euro ones. The only perk of the price seemed to be that when my credit card didn’t work and I started cursing in Finnish, in stepped this guy who had been standing in a corner eyeing everybody, and he just made the card work, really fast and hassle free. Had a great time talking with colleagues, our potential fan investors and all kinds of other people you run into in happenings like this – and very much needed zeroing out the brain after days and days of staring at the screen.
In the final evening, or rather morning, I had one of those enjoyable timeless moments – everybody else had gone to bed already, but I spent a while sitting in our balcony, listening to the night birds and Fever Ray, and watching the Cannes sky turn from black to deep indigo and break towards blue.
In the other days I was surprisingly happy to work through the day, then walk home, grab a bit of kebab to eat on the way and then just relax with New Model Army or Civilization IV which I got off of the brand new Steam for Mac. It had the added bonus of getting a bit of peace and quiet after a day at the office, where it often got quite hectic: at times there where three different sales or budget meetings going on at the same time, with more people pouring in through the door wanting to see or discuss one film or another. Iron Sky wasn’t the only film we were promoting and we were also sharing the office with another production company, so things didn’t get lonely there either.
So, this is what I do for a living nowadays. The work is satisfying, life is full of adventures and things are looking all around so great that I’m almost getting suspicious.