I am REALLY sorry for the delay, but finally here is interview with Stobe Harju in English. We will be glad to get any feedback on it
Interview with Imaginaerum's director Stobe Harju
-As I got it from the interviews idea of making such film appeared in 2008, so the plot appeared earlier than Imaginaerum music. But the music and lyrics fits the movie perfectly. Did you and Tuomas make changes in the screenplay after Imaginaerum album was released?
We didn't make any changes based on the songs on the album. The movie was shot already before the album release, so no changes were made after. Making a movie can take quite a bit longer than making of a music album.
The script had many versions though. Normal changes that are required to make the story as good as possible but within the budget. Not even many movie fans know that there are several drafts (versions) of a screenplay. We had at least three drafts before hitting the white draft, after which came the blue, yellow and pink draft. The last one being the shooting draft.
So there were in total of seven drafts/versions of the Imaginaerum script, if we dont count in the several versions of the movie treatment and the synopsis. Haha... Which would make it about 15 versions.
-The Islander music video has certainly some Imaginaerum charm. Can be considered as the first attempt to create modern fantasy tale which later developed in Imaginaerum? Can it be called the first shot?
I wouldn't call The Islander the first scene of Imaginareum, or even a waypoint towards the movie. I'd call it a spark, that made us collaborate with Tuomas and Nightwish. We realized that we understand each other and share a common vision. I'd say the message The Islande and Imaginaerum share, is that family is very, very important.
-What scene was the most difficult for shooting for you as a director? And what scence was the toughest from the technical side?
Dramatically the toughest scene by far was to shoot the scene between Ann and Gem. My vision originally was to establish their whole relationship and fallout without using almost any words at all. Thay would've required a longer character establishing scene, but it didn't fir into our budget. We had to say everything inside that one set, that room and let them run through their personal history by the help of a lot of dialogue. That is not usually my style.
The breakinh of the Arabesque, Theodore suicide, Thomas scene is something I am proud of.It's a scene that conveys the right emotion and message without a single word. I wished, we would've had the choice of going towards that road with Gem and Ann.
From the technical side the toughest was... to turn a 3 million dollar movie into one that looked like it was shot with 50 million. Hahaha, I am laughing, but it's true. Doing something so ambitious with so little budget is the biggest technical difficulty. Low budget makes each shot (VFX or not) the hardest shot of the film.
-What can you say about VFX industry in Finland? Of course earlier you shot visually saturated music videos, but this time it was full-legth movie so the effects were greater. Were you learning all these thing by yourself or you involved people with global blockbuster experience level?
Imaginarum VFX were made in Canada in a collaboration by three different VFX studios. Vision Globale and The Workshop started the production but later we realized more help was needed, so I found a small but an awesome VFX studio called Alchemy 24 who finished the shots with flying colors.
All of the above companies have been involved into major Hollywood blockbuster films, like Sin City, 300, Riddick, Immortals, The Aviator etc.
There were over 350 people working on this film with 100 to 120 people working on the VFX alone. I have to admit though... I finished some VFX shots myself (quite a bit actually) but I won't tell you which ones they were, nothing major though.
- What can you say about Nightwish members acting abilities? Both Tuomas and Marco being Russia on the Imaginaerum premier told that it was not their cup of tea
I hate to say this but Tuomas and Marco couldn't be more wrong. I say, once a performer, always a performer. I mean look at them, they can perform fluently in front of tens of thousands of people, why not in front of a few cameras? What do you think? I think they didn't suck one bit... hahah, actually they were excellent. So let me just call them and tell'em to drink their tea.
-Will there be any director’s cut for Imaginaerum movie?
It's highly unlikely unless someone will invest another 5 million. No seriously, of course there is a director's cut (which is so much better), but it doesn't exist with VFX and post production. That would take several millions more. I was really happy about the original cut me Mathieu, my favorite editor, put together, but it was way too expensive with the money we had for the post production.
-We noted that carnival and circus theme is quite often used by you. Is there any reason for this?
I used to love circus as a kid. I still do. It is quite fascinating how a single location (circus) can be so much fun, beautiful, ragged, exciting and creepy at the same time.
-Are you planning to continue shooting full-length movies? Is there any ideas you would like to make them live?
Yes I am. I have three scripts on my table at the moment, one of them being a little closer to production, but I can't say anything more yet. Cool ideas, cool scripts and maybe some of them are even more ambitious than Imaginaerum.
-What were the last movies that you liked?
I enjoyed Snowpiercer quite a bit, if we're mentioning the latest movies that are out. It's a very ambitious indy production that I could see working as a big studio production as well... with a little happier ending.
-Have you ever been to Russia? Please tell us more about you impressions of visiting this country? Do you know anything about Russian cinema industry?
I haven't actually ever been to Russia... I know, shame on me, but I always wanted to go, and I've been asked to shoot over there quite often, but it never worked out. I really like the Russian straight forward positive mentality. So please invite me over.
-Currently you are working on video games, but do you play any games at home? What is your favorite genre?
I am working on Quantum Break by Remedy and Microsoft Studios at the moment, and it's the type of big tripple A game that makes you want to play certain other games such as The Last of Us, Uncharted 3, Destiny etc. So I play games for work... The only games I play for fun these days are the Lego games my kids play, or the shitty co-op games I play with Toxic Angel (the super talented Nightwish visual artist).
-Games are becoming more visually polished, they look more like real life, games have video inserts and big teams of artists are working on them. Can you say that someday games can be considered as the separate piece of art?
But it already is art! Where else can you combine talent like this? You have art directors, engineers, architects, level designers, environment artists, matte painters, musicians, sound designers, drama experts etc. who make the player or viewer experience 3 times stronger than any other media because you experience it yourself, through the controls while the adrenaline flowing through your body. Why on earth wouldn't we call games art?
- And the last question- please describe your ordinary day.
Wake up, kiss my wife, (at this point I'll do the quick gym if I am lucky), eat my cerial, take a shower, take my kids to daycare or school, jump to my car, get to the studio, direct stuff, get out of the studio, into my car, drive home or store (depending on the day), hug my kids, kiss my wife, pay my bills, play with my kids, (at this point I'll go for a run, if I am lucky), read my kids a story, prep for next day's work and write ideas down, have fun, play games, watch a movie and hangout with my beautiful wife, just sit in silence and think or read a book, go to bed, sleep about 5-6 hours (sometimes more, often less). Wake up, ...
Sounds boring, but I consider myself a very lucky guy.
Thank you for the interview!
The pleasure is all mine.
Stobe Harju website