You would be spoiled for ways to describe Finland’s natural bounty — a breathtaking tapestry of Arctic tundra, glacial fields, boreal forests, gin-clear lakes, and dramatic coastline offering easy access to the world’s largest archipelago. The landscape is as wild and untouched as anywhere on the planet; the air is relatively pollution-free, making the sunlight in Finland crisp and clear, with a magical “blue period” lingering over the long dawns and dusks. At the height of summer, the midnight sun shines for 24 hours, though winter days are short.
Finland offers one of the world’s most snow-secure environments, with the Finnish Lapland Film Commission boasting of 200 days of snow cover a year. There is a solid and extensive road network throughout the country, and even remote regions are well-connected by plane. Lapland has five airports, with direct flights from London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and Zurich. Finnair will introduce a direct flight from Helsinki to L.A. in March.
The Finnish government introduced a 25% cash rebate in 2017, and the turnaround is remarkably brisk: payments are usually made within three weeks. Production costs are typically lower than in neighboring Norway and Sweden, and skilled production services companies can help with both accessing the rebate and navigating the logistical challenges of shooting in remote areas under extreme weather conditions. They include Flatlight Creative House (flatlight.fi), Mutant Koala Pictures (hmutantkoala.com/production-services), Twisted Films (twistedfilms.fi), Funfar Films (funfar.fi), Komeetta (komeettafilmi.fi) and Aku’s Factory (akuntehdas.fi/ akun-tehdas-akus-factory).
There are a number of international-grade studio facilities across the country: Mediapolis (mediapolis. fi), in the city of Tampere, boasts a variety of mixeduse spaces and the country’s largest soundstage. Other top-notch facilities include Logomo (logomo.fi) in Turku and Helsinki’s Valofirma (valofirma.fi) and Angel Films (angelfilms.com), which is opening studio spaces early next year.
Recent productions at least partly filmed in Finland include “Our Kind of Traitor,” the 2015 adaptation of John Le Carré’s spy thriller, starring Ewan McGregor and Damian Lewis and directed by Susanna White; and “Hanna,” director Joe White’s 2011 feature, starring Saoirse Ronan, about a teenage girl raised in the wilderness to be an assassin. Notable Finnish productions include crime dramas “Deadwind” and “Bordertown,” which both play on Netflix, and the “Iron Sky” sci-fi franchise, with a forthcoming release billed as a China-FinlandCanada co-production.
Following are some of the location highlights that Finland has to offer:
THE ARCTIC NORTH
The country’s frigid northern frontier extends into the Arctic Circle — a vast winter wonderland with few rivals on Earth.
“We have the biggest wilderness in Europe … and great infrastructure around it,” says Marko Röhr of MRP Matila Röhr Prods. Oy, which teamed up with Borsalino Prods. and Gaumont on “Ailo’s Journey,” a documentary chronicling the yearlong odyssey of a newborn reindeer in the Arctic.
“That’s probably the only part of the world where you can have all these elements combined.”
Built on the Baltic Sea, Helsinki is a city of contrasts, with buzzy cafés and Scandi-chic design shops abutting picturesque historical buildings nestled around the harbor.
Exteriors are sometimes used to double for Russian cities, where filming can be a challenge. The long Baltic coastline and the archipelago are easily accessed, as are unspoiled wilderness areas. “It’s possible to shoot so many different locations just by driving 20 minutes,” says Riina Hyytia of Dionysos Films, whose Nordic Noir drama series “Deadwind,” which was acquired by Netflix, is filmed in the capital. Finland’s cities are compact, easy to navigate and film-friendly. Local officials have a can-do attitude and permits are easily acquired.
LAKES AND FORESTS
Producer Matti Halonen of Fisher King knew he wanted to use Eastern Finland as the setting of “Bordertown,” the crime drama series that premiered on Netflix in March 2017.
Across 30 years of shooting in Finland, he still finds the wooded region on the border of Russia among the country’s most picturesque — a ringing endorsement in a nation known for its crystal lakes, primeval forests and meadows teeming with elk, reindeer and other wildlife.
Lappeenranta, where “Bordertown” is shot, sits on the shores of Lake Saimaa — one of 190,000 lakes scattered across Finland.
“You just walk outside from your hotel and you’re in the wilderness,” Halonen says.
“The nature is all over.” Additional information can be found through the Finland Film Commission (www.filminginfinland.fi), as well as the regional film commissions: the Finnish Lapland Film Commission (lapland.fi/film), the North Finland Film Commission (nffc.fi), the West Finland Film Commission (wffc.fi), the East Finland Film Commission (effc.fi), and the South East Finland Film Commission (seffc.fi).
The city of Tampere (filmtampere.com) has a dedicated office providing assistance and information about local shoots. Taina Seitsara (email@example.com) can answer any question and arrange permits for filming in Helsinki.
Photo: “Ailo’s Journey,” tracking the yearlong odyssey of a newborn reindeer in the Arctic, was lensed in Finland.