Teppo Airaksinen: “The outcome of my short film was a turning point in my life”

Finnish director Teppo Airaksinen on his visiting Cannes Film Festival, backgrounds and common standards of achievement for all directors.

Teppo Airaksinen has finished The University of Art and Design in Helsinki. Therefore, perhaps, that’s why he was quite experienced when he started directing his first film. In fact, Teppo has already directed dozens of short films and two features. Moreover, he took part in some Finnish TV shows, such as Supertähdet where Teppo Airaksinen has directed 15 episodes since 2016. In spite of gaining and improving his skills in filmmaking at the University, the director received his first award long before entering it. Teppo remembers, ‘I had a wonderful feeling while being awarded, as that it was the first time when someone outside my family appreciated my work’.

“I had a wonderful feeling while being awarded, as that it was the first time when someone outside my family appreciated my work.”

Cannes Film Festival 2017

Last year Teppo Airaksinen’s film got Cannes Short Film Special Distinction, beating 8 other works of the the highest standard worldwide. Finnish director says: ‘The output of my short film Katto (in English The Ceiling) at Festival De Cannes in May 2017 was a turning point in my life’. What is more, Teppo’s name became known not only in Finland (the motherland of the director), but also for connoisseurs of cinematography all over the world. This film captured attention of everyone either jury of the festival or the audience that was present at the Selection and made them watch this film without stop to the end. As far as Teppo concerned, he thinks that The Ceiling made a splash because of its ingenious plot. In addition to this, he adds, ‘the first 10 seconds are important and in our film those 10 seconds are very intriguing’.

After the festival the director started to be recognized on the streets and received good opportunities for development in the sphere of filmmaking. The whole week in Cannes was amazing and informative for Teppo. ‘It was great to meet all the other filmmakers and have discussions on various topics with them’. The Finnish director hopes to go to Cannes again with his feature film. Nevertheless, there are some problems yet, for instance, ‘now it is a little bit easier to get funding for future projects, however, it’s still hard enough’, Airaksinen stresses.

Teamwork

Off course, the director is responsible for all the film, though film process include more than just one person, as it is all based on collaboration and teamwork. Teppo Airaksinen shares, ‘I try to be very specific when telling my vision to others. And I also strive to encourage them to work free and happy. They know that they can trust me in order I can support them.’

The Ceiling

The script of the Ceiling has an extremely interesting history of creation. It was the idea of Teppo’s screenwriter Melli Maikkula. She had a feeling that her ceiling came down when she got divorced. Thus that incident really made her write the script. Furthermore, there are some symbols in the film, for example, the descending ceiling symbolizes the feeling that the characters of The Ceiling have during the plot. Teppo Airaksinen says: ‘Something is pushing protagonists and pressing on them somehow’.

Obviously, there were some difficulties while trying to bring the script of The Ceiling to life. A few problems appear during the process of shooting and the biggest challenge for Teppo was to find a balance between fantasy and reality. He considers: ‘The ceiling of course is almost like a bit of fantasy, but I wanted the film to have this very realistic look. It was hard to find the balance.’

The preparation for the production was fast and easygoing. The most of the funding came from the Finnish film institute and Finnish broadcasting company YLE. Teppo’s team got the money very early, so it was easy to begin the production.

You can’t think about the audience too much. And short films are easier because the expectations moneywise are not so important as in feature films.”

The common standard of achievement for all directors

In Teppo Airaksinen’s point of view, it is the filmmaker’s responsibility to fulfill audience’s expectations, nonetheless it is also important to be an artist at same time. He says: ‘You can’t think about the audience too much. And short films are easier because the expectations moneywise are not so important that in feature films’. What is more, Teppo believes that a good and successful director needs to be persistent, good with people, emotional intelligence and brave so as to embody all his dreams into reality. He advises everyone who wants to have a life creating films never to give up if it’s a dream, as dreams exist in order to come true.

Unfortunately, Teppo Airaksinen doesn’t have his own website where his fans can follow his news, but it’s possible to follow Teppo’s Twitter.

Over de auteur

Sofia Piven

Sofia Piven is currently studying Journalistics and International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Having always been interested in writing articles, she was one of the editors of school newspaper and author for local newspapers and magazines.

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