Petri Erkkilä knows movies inside out. He works for Filmgate Finland, a production company that makes VFX post-productions for international films. The company has recently expanded from Sweden to Finland, where Petri is responsible for their Turku office. With the increasing demand in the field, there is now a real need for experts of their kind. We asked Petri why other creative professionals should also head to Turku for work.
- About the company: Filmgate Films (parent company) is an internationally awarded production company that has co-produced over 200 films and TV series. Filmgate Finland has been operating in Finland for over a year.
- Founded: Filmgate Films 2010, Filmgate Finland 2021
- Team: Currently four people in Turku and a search for more VFX experts is on
- Office location: City Centre, Turku
- Latest achievement: Three international film and TV series productions in the first year of operation.
- Random fact: The company has co-produced Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N. film, which will compete in the main series of the Cannes Film Festival in spring 2022.
The first signs of spring are just starting to show at the Old Great Square in Turku, where we meet with Petri Erkkilä. At the heart of Turku’s historic center, old cobbled streets, historically renowned buildings and the urban life of the river banks get to full bloom with the brighter season arriving. On our way to Åboa Vetus to have a coffee, we pass the Rettig factory, which is about to turn into a true hub for art and culture in the coming years.
My coffee companion is modest, but visibly enthusiastic: Filmgate Finland has only recently started its operations in Turku, but the team is already working with the best professionals globally. The next step is to get more post-production experts to the oldest city in Finland.
Why did you choose the Old Great Square as our meeting place?
Even if Petri is implementing some of the most visionary, cutting edge solutions in his work in the post-production of films, the historical part of the city deeply pleases the original Turku resident. When it comes to places and spaces, historical and aesthetic surroundings are a source of inspiration for the creative mind.
“What I like most about this area is its historical flair. This is also the place where the riverside life begins with all its restaurants. Especially in the summer this area is the best part of Turku.”
“The old town and riverside are the best part of Turku, especially in the summer.”
The Finnish office found its place in the center of Turku
When companies decide their new locations, many decisions and even some happy coincidences come into play. One might ask if the Helsinki metropolitan area would have been the best location for a company making international films. Yet, Filmgate Finland set up its office in Turku, a few blocks away from the Market Square.
“Also in Sweden, the company headquarter is based in Gothenburg, not Stockholm. Kind of an underdog status suits our spirit. As long as the work is done well, no one will pose such questions any more.”
Petri says that the most important reason for coming to Turku was meeting the right kind of people. Here, top professionals were found and soon the team was all set. It should also not be forgotten that the price level in the city is lower than in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
There is also monetary support offered to film operators in the area, and the incentive for av-production managed by Business Finland was also a significant factor for Filmgate Films to start their operations specifically in Finland.
What does the Turku region offer for film companies and professionals?
In addition to the national production incentive, the West Finland Film Commission, managed by the Turku region development company Turku Science Park Oy, is assisting in obtaining international productions in the region. Also, the aim is to support the development of the av sector in general. Petri is pleased to note that the film industry in the Turku region is already on a completely different level than it was 10 years ago. If there is a larger production coming to the area, then it is possible to turn their gaze to the rest of Finland and look for joint partners across the municipal borders.
One can study film industry at the Turku University of Applied Sciences, but at the moment the VFX artists needed by Filmgate Finland are trained only in Tampere. There have been joint discussions with the school, and Petri hopes that VFX training and, as a result, new experts will be brought to the Turku region in the near future. The sector has very good employment opportunities, which is worth considering when one is planning their studies.
“VFX professionals are wanted in the job market, so the industry is worth considering.”
Besides companies, the Turku region is a top-notch place for professionals alike. Petri is originally from Turku, and he comments smilingly that the city is such a good place to live that he hasn’t had to go anywhere else. Of course, employment in his own field even before graduation has been a significant factor for staying in Turku, but he finds plenty of other good things in his place of residence:
“Here, one can live within walking distance from the city center with reasonable prices. Also, I’m comfortable in a calm environment and from here one can easily reach nature and even the archipelago with public transportation. Clearly, this is not self-evident in many cities “
What kind of productions does Filmgate Finland make?
Not all new companies get to start their operations as strikingly as Filmgate Finland. The first international production made in Turku was the iconic Harry Palmer, whose former actor Michael Caine was filmed in Ruissalo and Turku Castle in a movie Billion Dollar Brains in 1967. This time Filmgate Finland co-produced with Altitude Television an ITV’s six-part miniseries The Ipcress Files, with Harry Palmer as Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders). Filmgate Finland did the VFX post-production work for the miniseries. The Ipcress Files is currently available at Yle Areena.
Currently, the VFX post-production is being finalized for director Neil Marshall’s (Game of Thrones, Westworld) new horror action film The Lair, starring British film actors Jonathan Howard, Charlotte Kirk and Jamie Bamber. Part of the post-production for director Oliver Hermanus’ drama film Living, starring Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood, was also made in Turku.
“During the first year of operation, we carried out three major international productions, that’s pretty great.”
With the rapidly increasing demand in the industry, new VFX artists are needed in the team. Many of the talents in Filmgate have a background in the movie, animation or gaming industry. Petri encourages everyone having the above-mentioned skillset and an interest toward international film productions to contact the company (email@example.com). Petri can’t yet reveal their new productions, but his smile says that something interesting is coming!
Petri encourages everyone having the above-mentioned skillset and an interest toward international film productions to contact the company (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What does the original Turku resident think of his hometown?
“I think Turku is a pretty decent place to live as I have always found a job in my own field and there haven’t been any other reasons either to move somewhere else.”