Finnish series creators are ready to laugh – also at themselves.
“While cultures vary, a fish-out-of-water experience is universal,” says writer Beata Harju, behind “Lay Low and Don’t Be Fabulous” about a woman who just can’t let go of her ex. Or of her Finnish roots.
“Finland is the perfect setting for a culture-clash comedy, because our networking events are so silent, you can hear the crunch of a cucumber.”
The show, set to bow in the Focus on Finland showcase at Mipcom, won’t be the only one led by complex female protagonists. In “True North,” three women fight for power after Egyptian refugee, Layla, joins a catering company with a secret.
“Through placing the story in [Spain’s] Marbella, where international jet-setters and social media celebrities live next to refugees and locals struggling to get by, we create a unique story around some of the inequalities of today’s society,” says Anna Blom of Jamedia Production.
“I am giving my knowledge and input as a half Egyptian, but I am not digging into my own roots or experiences this time,” admits “Getaways & Dreams” director Kaisa El Ramly, who writes alongside Blom and Kajsa Törnroth.
“It’s a truly international story told by two Finnish-Swedes, one half-Finn, half-Egyptian and one Spaniard, aiming to stay true to the horrors taking place between the refugees fleeing into Europe and the rich turning a blind eye. But mainly, it’s about three women ending up together due to a tragic accident.”
“Seconds,” Helsinki-based Fire Monkey’s first German co-production with NDR and YLE, also takes a look at the aftermath of a horrific event: a train disaster that claimed multiple victims.
“We are already planning and writing the second season to be produced in the near future,” assures Roope Lehtinen, the company’s chairman and co-founder. The show is sold by Reinvent International Sales.
“We are thrilled we are now able to show the first teaser for ‘Seconds.’ We have very high expectations for the series and we are sure it will reach viewers around the world,” says Helene Aurø, the company’s sales & marketing director.
“We wanted the accident to be big enough to make it visually impactful and to create interesting story layers. However, at its core is the emotional journey of our main characters who are trying to make sense in a world that seems to make no sense at all,” adds co-founder Mikko Pöllä.
“Roba” star Leena Pöysti, Mikko Kauppila, Meri Nenonen and Juho Milonoff round up the cast.
“We believe we were able to create a super impressive series. Both emotionally and visually,” says Pöllä, with Lehtinen adding: “We shot it during the summer and it feels that we have found a new and fresh way to tell an investigative story.”
Mysteries still reign supreme, with several shows promising nerve-wrecking thrills, including “Isolated,” set on the island of Utö.
“It’s a remote and hard-to-access island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, in the area known for its numerous unexplained shipwrecks throughout history,” explains producer Oskari Huttu, hoping to launch sales at Mipcom with OneGate Media.
“The location was a logistical hell, but at the same time, it gave us unique production value with its breathtaking scenery.”
As people try to survive, running out of food and water supplies, they also try to figure out the cause of the strange events they are witnessing.
“The characters are balancing between a supernatural explanation, with roots in a local mythology, and a more cynical one,” he adds.
“[Main character] Maria is trying to find out what happened to her daughter who left the island moments before the strange phenomena hit the island. The atmosphere is tense and sometimes almost claustrophobic, especially when tensions heat up, but there is also traditional drama and romance in the storylines.”
Bufo’s similarly character-driven “The Crashing” will focus on “the human capacity for resilience and connection in the face of tragedy,” says producer Pilvi Waltzer. The show follows four strangers, coming together after a tragic car crash.
Set to go into production in 2025, it was created by “upcoming talent” Anna Äärelä, who admitted that writing the show “has been challenging, but also healing in a way.”
Finally, Take Two Studios’ “Hildur” takes on Satu Rämö’s popular novels.
“It’s a ‘Nordic blue,’ meaning it’s a combination of well-crafted crime thriller and character-driven relationship drama,” says Sara Norberg, praising the mix of “remote and beautiful” Westfjords of Iceland with a strong IP.
“This combination will be irresistible to potential buyers,” adds the producer, also opening up about the recent news regarding Finland’s tax incentives.
“It is certain to have a major impact on productions and could lead to significant increase in local content produced outside of Finland. However, I am confident this issue will be resolved by the Finnish government, as it would be just idiotic to cut down a financing instrument that is risk-less and brings more income to Finland.”
In the meantime, creators keep on experimenting.
“Anticipate a range of projects across various genres, including high-concept narratives, comedy and Nordic motifs, all crafted in Finnish and English, with elements of Swedish and Icelandic languages,” sums up Laura Kuulasmaa, executive director of Audiovisual Producers Finland [APFI], behind the showcase.
“These series can captivate a worldwide audience and we are enthusiastic about connecting with like-minded partners for international sales and distribution.
Focus on Finland showcase will take place in Cannes on Oct. 16.
(6 x 50)
Production company: Bufo
Producer: Pilvi Waltzer
Writer and director: Anna Äärelä
The company behind “Next of Kin” takes a look at a fatal car crash. Its survivors – including a border guard, a swimmer, a smuggler and a grieving widow – uncover the truth behind the accident, connecting in a border town and unveiling hidden secrets.
(6 x 45)
Broadcaster: Nelonen Media, Ruutu
Production company: Take Two Studios
Producer: Sara Norberg
Writer: Matti Laine
Hildur, a police officer haunted by her past, chases a serial killer in Iceland’s freezing fjords. As she investigates a series of homicides, she also starts uncovering the truth about her sisters’ disappearance.
(8 x 45)
Broadcaster: Nelonen Media
Production company: Lucy Loves Drama Oy
Producers: Oskari Huttu, Mikko Räisänen, Marko Antila
Writers: Lassi Vierikko, Petja Lähde and Tatiana Elf (script doctor)
Directors: Teppo Airaksinen, Rane Tiukkanen, Johannes Salonen
This mystery drama-thriller ventures onto a small island of Utö, where its residents experience strange events and isolation after losing contact with the outside world. It’s only a matter of time before primal urges take over and the community starts to fall apart.
“Law Low and Don’t Be Fabulous,”
Production company: Handle Productions
Producers: Hanna Hemilä and Beata Harju
Writer: Beata Harju
A New Yorker with Finnish roots, Vera pursues her ex-boyfriend in Finland, only to face unexpected challenges. As she discovers he is actually involved with another woman, and goes from dancing to studying marketing, it sets her on a journey of self-discovery.
(6 x 50)
Broadcaster: YLE, SVT, DR, NRK, RUV, NDR
Production company: Fire Monkey Productions Oy
Producers: Saara Kankaanpää, Roope Lehtinen, Hannu Kalliolahti
Writer: Laura Suhonen
Director: Mikko Kuparinen
In this disaster drama – produced by the company behind “Enemy of the People” – accident investigator Marita Kaila leads an investigation into a devastating train accident, which claimed over sixty victims. But her past and mounting pressures threaten to break her.
(6 x 45)
Production company: Jamedia Production
Producers: Horacio Alcála, Anna Blom, Mia Palmgren
Writers: Anna Blom, Kajsa Törnroth, Kaisa El Ramly, Antonio Moreno
Directors: Chuz Gutiérrez, Horacio Alcala, Anna Blom
Three women’s power struggle unfolds when a refugee joins a catering company with a dark secret. Layla, coming from Egypt, disrupts the co-dependent relationship of sisters Amanda and Isabelle after discovering their involvement in her daughter’s accident.