New cult cinema classic Iron Sky director Timo Vuorensola finds his own space ahead of visit to XpoNorth at Eden Court to talk franchise building and success of 'Nazis on the moon' sci-fi film
EVEN if you’ve yet to watch Iron Sky, there is a good chance that you have already heard about it if you’re remotely a fan of cult cinema.
The 2012 comic sci-fi adventure tells the story of a near-future Earth coming under attack from Nazis, who have spent the previous 70 years camped out on the dark side of the moon.
Swastika flag planted firmly on moon rock and tongue planted just as firmly in cheek, the movie became a cult success – and has seen the Iron Sky idea branch out into the world’s unlikeliest franchise.
A sequel film – The Coming Race – came out earlier in 2019, with a spin-off movie The Ark due for release later this year. On top of that Iron Sky has also had a comic prequel, a video game tie in – and even a board game.
For Timo Vuorensola, the series has taken up the last decade of his life – and more – but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“I can say that it’s so much fun that it justifies the fact that it’s eaten the biggest part of my life for the last 12-13 years,” the Finnish director explained. “It’s not an easy way to earn your living or make movies, but the amount of fun I’m able to have when working on this is definitely something that really brings it together.
“And it’s a unique thing to have something that you really love so much and can spend so much time developing. That’s what I love, there is not too much rush with these Iron Sky things, I can create these worlds the way I want, as much as I want – I have freedom to do that.
“I have this thing that I’m working, and people trust what I’m doing and support what I’m doing and are always there in case I need them. It’s the craziest topic you can imagine!”
Appropriately enough for a sci-fi series, the first atoms of what would become the Iron Sky franchise began “a long time ago in a Finnish sauna far far away!”
Timo laughed. “A friend of mine had this idea about Nazis on the moon, and as a topic for a movie it was of course one of those so-called sauna jokes which we say in Finland – there’s a lot of crazy ideas, when you go in the sauna with five-six friends and you’re drinking beer...
“But that was one of the ideas that stuck and we started to pitch that around. We found a producer, Tero Kaukomaa, who was really into the idea, and then bit by bit we started to go to international film festivals, Cannes Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival and whatnot.
“These are places where they usually make very, they make the traditional European movies, so the dramas and the arthouse movies. And we came there with our idea about Nazis on the moon!
“Of course people were laughing at it and then they were expecting us to go away and not come back.”
But come back they did year on year, and after a successful crowdfunder helped convince more traditional financiers that there was an appetite, Iron Sky was released.
Working outside the traditional studio model has been a challenge, but with an eager fanbase Timo has been able to helm Iron Sky and make it a success.
It’s part of what he’ll be discussing at XpoNorth next week, “ but also to talk about building a franchise in a world where franchises are mostly considered to be something owned by big studios.
“As a European film maker my idea and wish is to show that we can also do our own franchises, we don’t have to just rely on what the Americans do. Not to say that they are bad necessarily, but just that the only kind of franchises we seem to be getting nowadays.
And being the creative voice at the heart of this franchise is a privilege that Timo recognises as quite unique.
“In a lot of ways it’s probably a little bit closer to arthouse filmmaking than franchise filmmaking,” he explained, “but I believe that kind of combination there, that’s something that I’m interested in.
“People expect a certain level of craziness from these Iron Sky movies, and if you try to make everybody happy and if you try to keep all the entities happy with your content, it’s definitely not going to work out the way people are expecting.
“So we also expect a kind of anarchistic heavy metal sort of approach to the whole thing – punk filmmaking approach to the whole thing – where it’s not coming from the traditional players, and it’s not trying to please all the traditional players.
“It’s trying to be as heavily itself and the kind of thing that it was born to be whether people like it or not. And definitely I can tell that not all people like it, but it’s a fun and interesting world to be in.”
Timo Vuorensola will be speaking at XpoNorth on Thursday at 3.30pm in the Jim Love Studio, Eden Court, for The Iron Sky Story: Producing the Audience. For more information, go to www.ironsky.net