Episode 81

"Freeskate" Movie with Roope Olenius & Veera W. Vilo

In this episode Matt Bowen takes the Mastering Finland Podcast to the movies for an exclusive interview with the director and screen writer behind the new film “Freeskate” which premieres on 21 October 2022.

Finnish film is currently it’s own moment in the spotlight after the international success of “Compartment No.6” a film about a Finn in Russia.  The new movie “Freeskate” has a contemporary and topical storyline of a Russian figure skating athlete fleeing to Finland only for her troubles to follow her.

Getting to know the faces behind this new Finnish film, Matt speaks with director Roope Olenius and screen writer Veera W. Vilo who are partners both on and off the movie set.

The pair each originally followed their own paths, studying acting for a year in their native Finland before becoming internationals themselves and learning their skills in different countries with a view to being able to produce films that could have both an international perspective and be taken seriously outside of Finland.  Roope studied in America, influenced by Hollywood and Oscar-nominated teachers whilst Veera went to Wales, a country in the UK with it’s own language and culture. Their paths crossed working on a comedy-horror film from abroad being shot close to Finnish Lapland and since finding each other in the bushes of Finland they have worked on a number of different projects together including art house cinema and other horrors.

Freeskate, was inspired by both Veera and Roope’s experiences of sport.  Veera trained as a gymnast in her youth and represented Finland in the 2008 World Championships – an experience that showed her both the glamourous side of international competition and the darker elements of the demands of the world stage.  Roope had over 14 years of experience in competitive ice hockey bringing a familiarity with winter sports and ice hall culture almost unique to the film industry.  Each in their own way mastering Finland with their different disciplines and using this to create this original story in the world of figure skating.

Mastering movie making took the same young and optimistic approach that many internationals find they need on their journey to mastering Finland.  Freeskate is a truly international film, featuring three different languages, current international athletes and filmed across many different ice halls and locations across Finland.  The timeline from pre-production to the premiere stretches from 2014 through to October 2022, with shooting beginning in 2019.  It would have been impossible to know just how contemporary and topical the subject of the film would be now or the struggles that film production would be in the age of Covid-19.

If you get chance, do watch the film and let us know what you think.