Interview Esa Jussila

Esa Jussila is één van de oprrichters van TR Productions, een belangrijke speler in de Findie, oftewel de Finse underground movie scene. Hij is al jaren een gorehound en horror freak wat je terug ziet in zijn films. Zijn inspiratie heeft hij onder andere uit de Italiaanse scene gehaald. Het is dan ook niet vreemd dat hij Dario Argento en Lucio Fulci als inspiratie noemt. hij heeft niet alleen een aantal films op naam staan als regisseur, maar voornamelijk in de praktische SFX voelt hij zich als een vis in het water. Ook voor cinematografie, productie, editting en meer draait hij zijn hand niet voor om. Kijk voor al zijn werk eens op zijn IMDb pagina.

How did you start out making movies and/or doing special effects make up?
I started out young, in my teenage years, after seeing some classic splatter movies such as Bad Taste and Dawn of the Dead. At first it was just me and my childhood friends messing around with fake blood and a camcorder, then gradually things got more serious and ambitious. We discovered the Finnish underground film scene, Findie, and became prominent members with the film crew we established, called TR Productions.

Which movie was the most fun to work on and why?
My favourite would probably be the Goremageddon films. There are movies I’m more proud of, especially Storm in an Hourglass, a full feature post-apocalypse film I did, but Goremageddons were the most fun as far as the filmmaking process goes. It was so freeform it felt like being a teenager trying out new things again. We had no real script on the first one and on the second once we improvised a huge amount as well. It was stress-free and fun, like hanging out with your best buddies – but with a ton of blood and gore flying around all the time!

Which director and/or actor was the coolest to work with?
Oh I can’t possibly single out just one. I have tremendous respect for many of the great actors I’ve had the pleasure of working with, Toni Kandelin, Johannes Rojola, Tommi Karjalainen to name a few. Onni Kaskinen, with him we grew a special brothers in arms kind of bond during the shoot of They Rest in the North. I don’t even really need to direct him much anymore. He usually just knows what I want. Directors, of course I collaborate a lot with Artturi Rostén, so much so that we probably sound like an old married couple by now. I jest, of course, he’s great. Joonas Pirttikangas, the director of the post-apocalypse feature Lilian is a brilliant writer and director and I absolutely loved working with him. Chrzu, the director of Night Satan, he’s a total madman! A real b-movie visionary. I also have to give a shout out to Mikko Löppönen, amazing action director and an all around awesome guy. Worked in Backwood Madness with him as his co-DP and it was a riot!

What are your upcoming projects?
I have a gritty revenge short film called Homecoming in post-production, also writing another short film, a social media satire called Suicide Online, and a feature film called Powertool Massacre. We’ll see if they make the cut. You never know with movies in this early phase.

Can you ellaborate on them?
Homecoming takes place in the early 90’s Finland, the recession years, and it’s about a group of men hunted by an unknown avenger. It’s my Peckinpah/Friedkin pastiche, but with sadistic gore and muddy Finnish winter landscapes. It’s a deliberately cruel and unpleasant film. We had a bunch of trouble in the production, with weather and people falling sick. The first week of the shooting I was struck with flu and fever, so most of the principal shoot I was just functioning on cough medicine and painkillers. But it’s shaping up to be a solid little bit of nastiness. Suicide Online and Powertool Massacre… I think I’ll have to keep under wraps for now.

What movie did you really want to participate on but didn’t get a chance to?
Can’t think of one… Not many interesting productions going on in Finland, to be honest.

How do you pull off what you do on such a limited budget?
Penny-pinching on the materials, and shooting creatively. In The Defiler we did a whole bunch of cyberpunk cityscapes basically with just some creative lighting and by setting up fluorescent light tubes into walls and railings. Worked like a charm.

And with gore it’s even more about the creativity. We started out with play-doh and paper mache fake heads back in the day. A lot of the techniques we learned back when we were broke teenagers are still in use in our productions – because they’re cheap and they work.

What was your most ambitious project and/or effect you ever did?
As far as movies as a whole go, probably Storm in an Hourglass. We set out to make a truly serious, large and sweeping post apocalypse film with pretty much no gear and no budget. It flounders here and there, but by some miracle it works despite being dirt cheap and made by a bunch of amateurs. There’s just something that movie managed to capture, a true feel of desolation and solitude.

As far as FX go, I don’t know… Probably the surgery sequence in Trans*. It was just us shooting FX shots one after another for two days with all kinds of mixes of gore FX and puppetry. Homecoming has some pretty amazing FX sequences too but outside of rudimentary planning those weren’t my doing, as I focused on directing and dp:ing the movie. But Minja Tuomisalo, Artturi Rostén and Ari Savonen did some major magic in that film.

Was it hard to get your foot in the door of the moviebusiness
I think I’m still trying to push my foot in, haha! Or, being an underground/indie filmmaker I guess I could say I didn’t even go to the door and decided to build one myself like a stubborn idiot.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years
Probably an early grave if I keep up at this rate! I’m kidding, of course. Hopefully I’ll be working on another feature film then, maybe one with an actual budget.