Berlinale’s Co-Pro Series title “Tipping Point” heads to the end of the world – Svalbard – to tell a story of a young activist at war with her oil exec father, until he is murdered.
Chasing a piece of stolen software which can be used either to destroy the world or improve it, just like the atomic bomb, she is investigating his death.
A ReelMedia (Finland) and Maipo Film (Norway) production, it’s set to start shooting in 2024.
“In Svalbard, there are scientists, spies, military attaches, environmentalists, miners. Polar bears and even a statue of Lenin, because no one bothered to take it down. You can’t make it up,” laughs head writer Brendan Foley, promising the location will keep the tale “contained.”
“When talking about the environment, TV has a problem. Especially when it tries to compete with Hollywood, where it’s all about CGI earthquakes and tidal waves. We try to focus on the characters.”
ReelMedia’s Markku Flink adds: “You need to be able to present a complex issue in an understandable way. It’s not enough that it’s a ‘worthy’ story. It has to be engaging.”
The series, currently shopping for Nordic directors and Norwegian talent, will combine unresolved family issues with action spectacle and a commentary on the climate crisis.
“There is so much going on in the world right now. In a way, [our show] is a reflection of that,” says Foley.
“If you have a daughter and a parent, having an argument, that doesn’t stop climate change, war or economic worries. There are all these things happening to the same people at the same time.”
Generational clashes will make up a big chunk of the story.
“Her view is very black and white. ‘This older generation fucked it all up and we are picking up the pieces.’ His view reflected his generation: Just because something isn’t the way you like, it doesn’t mean you get to ignore it. The big thing, for me, was a coming-of-age story. She has to engage with that messy world where all sorts of bad things happen.”
Gradually starting to see more shades of grey and discovering her father after his death. Deciding whether to continue his work, also with the help of his “slightly dodgy” employees, or to find her own way.
“Tipping Point” will reflect current issues and fears, also of the “not-so-cold Cold War,” observes Foley. Even though they change constantly.
“The distance between something regarded as outlandish science fiction, accepted science or ancient history in the eco-thriller world can be as little as six months. We have focused on plot-lines that will stay relevant while also being topical.”
But they won’t be lecturing anybody, stresses Reel Media’s head of content Johanna Enäsuo.
“The youngsters have been calling for action for years. They are now suing their governments. It’s an important story for them as well, inspiring and entertaining,” she says, also opening up about the visual side of the show.
“ReelMedia has amazing experience of underwater cinematography in the Arctic. One of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet, even without the war reaching the pipelines and cables beneath it.”
The team, says Flink, has also worked closely with Finnish scientist, author and futurologist Risto Isomäki, whose book “The Sands of Sarasvati” served as an inspiration.
Foley calls the show another example of taking a bit of a “gamble” with the Nordic noir genre, after his black comedy “The Man Who Died” with star-on-the-rise Jussi Vatanen.
“It’s a close relative: More character-driven, slightly less gloomy. We are not venturing into complete wilderness here – Nordic Noir is still a good place to start. But we are exploring its edges.”
Although dealing with some dark subjects, there is hope in the story, he notes.
“It’s an optimistic story. It’s just not ‘Pollyanna’.”