Conspiracy theories can make great subjects for films. They can be creepy, terrifying, and downright weird. Sometimes, however, you can really go balls-to-the-wall with it and deliver something that’s over-the-top, ridiculous, and goofy as hell. This was the approach director Timo Vuorensola took with Iron Sky, a film that chronicled an invasion from space Nazis who had taken up residence on the dark side of the moon.
Now, in the sequel, Iron Sky: The Coming Race, they take things to a whole new level, delving into the Hollow Earth conspiracy as well as the shape-shifting reptile conspiracy. Needless to say, in my interview with Vuorensola, we cover some of that territory, the ambition of the Iron Sky franchise, as well as some of the future projects they have coming around the pike.
Iron Sky: The Coming Race is available for digital consumption now on various platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and Google Play!
LRM Online: How are you?
Vuorensola: I am great. I’m enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Helsinki Harbor, and it’s actually a very, very nice day today.
LRM Online: Well, I’m really excited to talk about Iron Sky: The Coming Race. This is a movie I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I was a big fan of the first one, and it’s been a long road for this one. I remember you guys release those teasers back in 2014 of Vladimir Putin and Jesus, and all that. And I was super stoked for it, but obviously, it’s been quite a long road for this, so I guess that’s my first thought. I know this is a crowd-funded movie so that obviously can explain some of the time, but what is the process of making such a very expensive looking indie project like this?
Vuorensola: Yeah, that’s definitely a challenging process because the main challenge is that we not competing to be the best looking Finnish movie in the market, that’s not what we’re going for. We are actually competing on a very, very big scale against the very, very big scale movies when you go in with the science fiction, action, dinosaurs, and stuff like that. Films that are usually sort of the Hollywood… The biggest of the biggest movies of the year. We’re sort of entering there with the movie and definitely with the budget, which is nowhere near that kind of money. So that’s definitely a challenge, but also having worked with a couple of projects like that, you get to learn the tricks on how to make things look quite good even without that kind of money. So you have… I think that the important part of that kind of process is to be… You know, spend a lot of time in pre-planning things.
So basically everything you do is planned already beforehand, and then you actually follow that plan through as much as possible to the end. Of course things change, but still it’s not like you have a very clear plan. That’s where you’re able to squeeze the costs centered in it and squeeze the best out of the budget, so to say. But it’s a long process, it takes up… Obviously a long process in writing and all that, but then testing, developing the elements, the visuals and everything. It’s a long process, but I think the key of that process really is just to give it a lot of time and energy to make elements work before you shoot anything so that when you shoot stuff, and eventually when you go into the post-production, you already are quite clear on what you want. And I think that’s super important in this kind of project.
And not only that, the other thing which helped a lot was that, like you said, you liked the first Iron Sky, so… And a lot of people around the world actually liked the first Iron Sky, so it helped a lot that people already knew sort of into what kind of thing this is. So we were able to go into the even the big visual effects studios, and big studios, big actors, big casting agents and everything and say, “Okay. We do not have the money of the Hollywood films, but we have this crazy concept of Iron Sky, and you guys, maybe you’ve seen it,” and they usually have seen it and they were sort of admires, they were happy to jump on board, and they were also willing to push their side of things so that we were able to fit everything in that. So it’s also very important to have that kind of relationships with the companies.
LRM Online: So would you be able to give us a time frame of when you guys did production, and then how much of that time between when you finished and it’s released that you guys were doing visual effects? Because I’m just curious about if that gestation period was all visual effects, or if there were other elements as well, as an indie project.
Vuorensola: Well, in the beginning, it was much about planning the world. It was not even visual effect work so much, it was planning the world, doing the concept designing, and sort of taking the time to do the research, try out different kinds of looks and feels to the whole thing. And it also actually helps quite a lot that we did these little promos with the Jesus, and we had Putin, and then we had this Palin kind of character. And all of these characters were sort of doing those little promos helped us also to define the story, so they were used also as the funding tools because with those tools we were able to go on to the financiers and say, “Okay. This is the look and feel we’re going to go for,” and then we were able to get money.
And then also with the crowd-funding it helped, but also it helped us to keep our mind on the project and give up with that setting. So basically, much of that time from 2013 to the end of 2015, before we were shooting the movie was just pre-planning concept thing, concept designing the world, and then we shot the movie in 2015, and then started to post-production process in 2016, and that took a while. ’16, ’17 and ’18, and end of ’18 we were finally finished. But that was… It was a long process, but it’s kind of… Usually, you have enough money, we could’ve done it much faster, but since we didn’t we had to give it a little bit more time, and that was also good for the movie because it also gave us time to think what we’re doing actually and that helps get that final result there.
LRM Online: Well, the first movie dealt with the conspiracy theory about the dark side of the moon and all that, and the second one deals with conspiracies involving reptile people, and the core of the earth, and all that being hollow. What were the kernels of the idea, what made you decide to go in that direction for the sequel? And to do it, it had to take place after Earth had basically become a wasteland. What was the origin of that?
Vuorensola: That origin actually was born already when we were coming up with the story for the first Iron Sky. I started to research all these crazy conspiracy theories, and one of the interesting things about conspiracy theory about Nazis and their secret weapons, which is the UFOs, is that one part of that conspiracy theory states that the Nazis actually got that technology, the secret technology of the UFOs from the people who live inside the earth called the Vril, or whatever you call it. It’s a superhuman race who live inside the Earth and there is an access into their world into Antarctica. So that’s sort of the crazy part of the secret Nazi weapon technology story, but I kind of went into that and whenever I was researching a secret Nazi technology, UFOs, whatever… I always bumped into this.
A lot of people saying, “Okay, this is crazy and you know this is insane, but this is also part of it.” And interestingly so, also Nazis were interested in the hollow Earth because they were convinced that before the world was like… There was a race of Aryan creatures or humans, or sort of superhumans who lived… The Germanic race who lived and populated the whole Earth. Now one part of the Nazi sort of science, or what do you call it? Pseudo-science part. They were convinced that if they were to find an access into the hollow Earth, they would be able to find that race or those people there, and they actually did send a couple of expeditions throughout planet Earth, but especially in Antarctica to try and find this kind of access in their world. So it’s also kind of part of the whole Nazi mythology, so bringing that together, sort of combining that into the story was actually quite fun, but also it’s a little insane because the more you read it, more you sort of find yourself digging into stuff that is really, really weird. Sometimes it’s just it’s too much. You’re like, “Okay, I’ve got to take a break of this.”
LRM Online: Absolutely. I’ve been down that rabbit hole myself, as well. It’s easy to get caught up and get really paranoid about everything, as ridiculous as that all is.
Vuorensola: It is. It’s funny because the more you read, the more you research, the more it’s like… Because good conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theory which kind of makes sense, even if it’s all insanity. If it’s a good story, a good conspiracy theory, there is enough connecting points to actual real elements and events. And sort of the more you read that and things, “Okay this,” and then you have to take a little break and look at the world. And okay, this is the world we live in, and this is fantasy and this is not. It’s interesting.
LRM Online: Right. So what challenges did this movie bring that maybe the first one didn’t have?
Vuorensola: I think the biggest challenge was that… For me, it was first with the story, was that… With the first one, I think the story of the Nazis on the moon was done. I didn’t want to… Because it would’ve been kind of easy to sort of continue that story, continue that sort of Nazis on the moon joke, but I didn’t feel that there was anything there. So coming up with something that’s completely different that sort of has a different vibe, and also has different references because the first Iron Sky was, I always want to say that it’s like Independence Day meets Dr. Strangelove. The Coming Race was much more about Indiana Jones meets, I dunno, Jurassic Park meets Jules Verne, so it’s a totally different kind of reference points in that sense.
So going into that and sort of redeveloping, or sort of reinventing the wheel in that sense was a bit of a challenge. And also, of course, the challenge was that our budget was now bigger. So while we could have pretty easily gathered the money like we did for the first one, unfortunately, our budget also doubled because our ambitions doubled and that always, of course, is a bit more challenging. I mean, there was already… It was also much easier in the sense that we had already done one film and people had already seen, “Okay. This is what you guys can do.”
And sort of they also understood that while we’re talking about Nazis, we are not Nazis because that was really a big problem with the first one because before the film came out a lot of people are very suspicious that are these some weird right-wing fans, or fan guys who are just doing a weird right-wing sort of pro-Nazi stuff. And obviously, when the film came out there were, “Oh, not even the slightest sense.” So that was passed, now the people know that, okay, even if it makes fun of elements like Nazis, we do with very good taste and understanding the context. But still, that kind of things where some things were easier, but also definitely challenges still there.
LRM Online: Absolutely. Well, you mentioned your ambition earlier, and it’s very clear that you guys have a lot of ambition. You’ve had that video game a few years back, and then, of course, you have an upcoming, I guess, spin-off movie would you call it? The Ark: An Iron Sky Story. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Vuorensola: Yeah. I guess, to be honest, I can’t tell you too much about it because I don’t know too much about it other than I just made that movie. We shot it, we finished it, and it’s in post-production. I don’t know when it’s coming out, and I don’t exactly know what I should be telling about it, but that’s also… It’s definitely a spin-off. It’s… But it’s Chinese, and it’s very Chinese, and it’s made by… It’s produced by a Chinese producer. It’s in Chinese language for the most part, and it’s a bit of a Chinese story. And it was an interesting sidestep from the Iron Sky thing. There was a Chinese producer who happened to be a big Iron Sky fan, contacted us and say, “Yeah, I’d love to do a film with you in China.”
And then flew us over, and he had a great story in mind, but that was a very Chinese story. So we through that story started to develop it in a way that is sort of accessible to the whole world, and also fitting into the world Iron Sky. It’s actually surprisingly well-matched. And then we shot the movie, and now it’s in post-production, but I don’t know too much about the schedule at this point.
LRM Online: So actually, you guys had a fun teaser a couple of months back in regards to Trump not being in this movie. Do you almost wish that the movie had been made later so that you could incorporate Trump into the movie?
Vuorensola: Yeah, it is a good question. And I guess the answer is yes, but also the answer is I’m kind of happy we didn’t because that would be… The problem with Trump is that no matter what we would’ve done with Trump, Trump would out Trump us all the time. So that way, I think whatever we would have said in the movie, however crazy a character we would’ve created out of Trump, he would still be much crazier. So in that way you can never compete with Trump on the insanity factor, so I’m kind of happy that we don’t have to, we just… The guy’s out of the picture and this sort of teaser is kind of explaining, “Yeah. He’s not in because he just doesn’t deserve… He’s not.”
And also, I think there’s enough of Trump all over. It’s like we don’t… I think every time somebody does parody something about Trump, it just raises his figure. And I don’t know, I don’t think he needs any more of that, I think he needs less of that. So the more people make fun out of him, the more they forget that actually the decisions and the politics that he’s driving for are actually horrible things. Not just a funny guy in a funny suit with the funny hair, he’s actually dangerous. But you know, the more people make fun of the character itself, the more they… It’s easy to forget what’s the huge and well-planned, very intelligent, actually power play that he’s playing in the background. But that’s… You know, let’s not go too much into politics with this. Let’s let the movie do the politics. But yeah, that was… Yeah.
LRM Online: Cool.
Vuorensola: Yeah. And I think the main thing is you can never out-Trump Trump, so that I’m happy that we didn’t even actually try.
LRM Online: So what’s next for you going forward?
Vuorensola: Oh. Like I said, I’m really interested in TV or streaming, streaming content. So Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, TV show content, which is something that I am… I mean, we are actually right now developing something with the Iron Sky universe for that kind of environment of content, so that’s really interesting. And obviously post-production with the Chinese film is something that’s going on, and there’s a bunch of other stuff that I’m writing, I’m also a big fan of low key… Sort of a low key science fiction stuff. Something that’s not always about big budgets and explosions, so there’s also a story that I’m developing on that front. But yeah, that remains to be seen what it actually is. That’s the problem or the challenge with film is that you never know what’s the one thing that gets traction suddenly, and suddenly you’re doing that. It’s kind of a weird world in that regard.
LRM Online: All right. Well, thank you so much for talking with me. I really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was great fun, it looks fantastic, and I wish you the best with it, and I look forward to seeing more Iron Sky stuff in the future. Thank you.
Iron Sky: The Coming Race is available on many digital platforms for purchase!
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