Exclusive: The fast-expanding mini-studio’s Finnish Impact Film Fund will be eyeing primarily high-quality Nordic films and series.
Helsinki-based production and distribution powerhouse Aurora Studios, which is managing the Finnish Impact Film Fund (FIFF) on behalf of a group of private investors, has announced that its capital commitment has been upped from €5.5m to €13.5m as a result of the fund’s second closing October 31st.
“The Fund’s growth will start a new phase in Aurora Studios’ journey to becoming a major player in the Nordic audiovisual industry,” said Ari Toippanen, chairman of the Board of the two-year old Aurora Studios.
Speaking to nordicfilmandtvnews.com, Petri Kemppinen, Aurora Studios CEO said: “We will prioritise film and series projects from the Nordics, to instigate co-productions and opportunities to attach Finnish talent, but we are open to any project, mostly from Europe, including in English-language.“
Single project investments from FIFF will range from €100,000 to €1.2 million.
“Finland has a wealth of talent, on both sides of the camera and many of them haven’t yet had a proper springboard to reach the international market,”, added Aurora Studios Head of Creative Roosa Toivonen. “At a time when sustainability and diversity are on the priority list of many audiovisual players, we are taking concrete actions by deploying an impact fund" she underscored.
Since FIFF’s initial launch mid-2021, the private equity fund has invested €3.6 million into 16 domestic films and series.
Those include the C More/MTV premium series Mobile 101 (Rabbit Films), Estonia (Fisher King), Elisa Viihde’s The Invincibles (Moskito Television), the films Bubble by Aleksi Salmenperä (Rabbit Films), The Worst Idea Ever by Pamela Tola (Helsinki-filmi) and two Herman the Clown films directed by Timo Koivusalo (Artista Film).
The round of private investors in FIFF include Finnish Cultural Foundation, Finnish Industry Investment Ltd, Föreningen Konstsamfundet, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, AB Kelonia Oy, Saastamoinen Foundation, as well as Aurora Studios owners Otava Oy, Ari Tolppanen’s family office Aristo-Invest Oy, and Ari Lahti's family office Baie Capital Oy.
Bigger focus on TV series
Meanwhile Aurora Studios has slightly readjusted its co-financing and production strategy, due to the prolonged recovery of the cinema market after the pandemic, as explained by Toivonen. “We are relatively new players, and while we initially started with distribution and production of local films for the theatrical market, we have now a strong focus on TV series while continuing to invest in our feature film development slate.”
Upcoming film productions from Helsinki-filmi include Comeback by Petri Kotwica (Black Ice, Freezing Embrace), about two former rock stars trying to make a comeback. The comedy starring Mikko Leppilampi, Ville Myllyrinne, Paula Vesala and Anni Iikkanen is co-written by Aleksi Bardy and Petri Karra. The premiere is scheduled for the fall 2023.
In pre-production is the first instalment of the popular children’s franchise Itty Bitty Princess, based on books by Hannele Lampela, directed by Lauri Maijala and written by Tuuli Kanervankallio. The story is about a self-proclaimed five-year old princess and her imaginative dog friend Sausage, distracted by the arrival of a new baby in the family.
Series projects take in Sunset Grove (8x24’), to be produced together with Fire Monkey for Elisa Viihde. The comedy thriller, pitched at the last Mipcom, is written by Mikko Pöllä (White Wall, Black Widows), based on Minna Lindgren’s best-selling ‘Sunset Grove’ trilogy books.
Looking ahead, Kemppinen said Aurora Studios’ ideal in-house production slate would consist of a couple of feature films and two to three series a year coming directly from Aurora Studios, its production subsidiary Helsinki-filmi and partly-owned animation brand Anima Vitae.
On the distribution side Aurora Studios is aiming at six to eight local film releases a year. The next local releases will be Bubble on November 25 and Angel on December 9.
The company also controls the arthouse label Cinemanse that imports and distributes around 15 foreign titles per year.