and Content Ninja in FLIK Helsinki
Larry: I know some things don’t have a lot of budget. The client will often ask: “How much does that cost?” I go, “a zero or a hundred thousand”. Just tell me the parameters I can work in – I will make the most of it. I think for ways to do that – there’s a lot of different ways. Not just my ways, it’s more about wanting to look for those ways.
You go out and just do these little interviews. Ok, then what? It’s just this, it’s just that – let’s get past the “just this”. Everything is important, to somebody, to your client. At the end of the day, our work ethic is important as it is what says the most about us.
Say, you’re interviewing someone, well for starters think of that as a beautiful portrait. Then you can think about the other elements that are in it, the things you are using. What can I do with this camera to make it look nice? What position is the person standing in? What’s the background?
I think about every little element in the puzzle that I’m given, and how I can manipulate that to create a more dynamic image. Even if it’s simple, even if it’s just for social media. I try to steer away from the “it’s just for”. Everything I make says something about me, about this company, the way you care about clients.
as much as possible in camera
I really think about it and that becomes a habit. It brings a huge value to the small projects – that’s where you practice the habit. Then you have that when you go to bigger projects. I have a much broader confidence in my ability to execute at all levels.
That’s what I teach: I teach philosophy and theory a lot. Because anybody can have the “I bought this new camera. It’s the best camera. It make best image.” Not really. People make those things. It’s the approach to making the image that makes it better.
Mikko: I think we have a similar way of thinking: we try to prepare ourselves well and try to do as much as possible ready, already inside the camera, not rely too much on the post production side. Not like thinking, “we’ll dump this shit”.
Larry: There is no magic about post.
Mikko: You don’t have to fight in the post if you do it properly already before that.
Larry: Access to the post is easier, and the software is there. I use a lot of software, but it’s all about what’s in the camera.
I want to take it more to professional film storytelling, as much as we can. What’s the story about? I want to serve that story the best. And add more story into stuff that doesn’t have that much story. Even if that comes a bit of a visual cue. Not just random medium shots that are connected.
The best thing Saija [Heikinheimo] said to me, when I came here: what do we do different than the guy next door? The guy next door opened with the drone shot, series of random wandering gimbal medium shots. That’s the go-to-thing. I don’t have a problem with any of those particular tools, we’re going to use a drone on something next week. But is that this project? It’s just some weird template.
Stop the camera sometimes, add some details, you can create these elements, these little scene sequences. You can create little movement, visual cues. They don’t really have a literal story, but they feel like that and they have more emotional impact.
Mikko: I’m looking forward to stuff that hits emotions. Emotionally touching stories.
Larry: More of that. It doesn’t have to be literal, it can be visually cued.
How much did you know about FLIK beforehand?
Mikko: Actually not that much, to be true. I saw somewhere the notice that you are hiring. I just thought “what is this?” Then I found out the last name and then I knew something.
Larry: Actually, I heard of it from Mikko. When Mikko suggested that, I just thought I’ve heard that a lot, “Oh we love your work, we’ll give you a call”. The call that never really comes, like the girlfriend, “Yea I’ll call you”. [laughs]
I felt discouraged, this has been a passion of mine for thirty years. I create images no matter what. If you go look at my Instagram, it’s my photo study with a story that accompanies it. It’s also a discipline, a practice – I’m practicing taking portraits over and over. It just happens to be mannequins in windows. Then I write a story. It’s essentially the same story that shifts over and over, the same elements. I’ve been doing it for eight years or so.
So they’re sort of micro stories…
Larry: They are. That’s also practice, how can I tell the biggest story in the fewest words? As I’m practicing that all the time, it translates into when I actually do write those stories.
When I met with Janne, they seemed most interested in looking to do something different. In a time, when I feel people are doing very much the same.
What made you grab the challenge here at FLIK?
Mikko: The diverse opportunities, and the possibility to take the next step on my career. Interesting things and not only TV and cross media.
Is there something that particularly inspires you?
Mikko: Well, to be straight, I’m more like those guys who say “Let’s do it and jump into next project”. Not the one that likes to spend months and months cutting or working on one project. Just the feeling of being able to go on with my own ideas, producing things and creating stories. I kind of felt already – when I met with Janne – that we synced pretty well. This felt like a nice place.
How do you feel about the challenge of combining new technologies and mediums (360 videos and VR etc.) and content?
Mikko: I’m just waiting to see something really awesome. So far VR things haven’t been that special. There hasn’t been anything that’s shocking my mind, like “Woah this is so cool that I wanna do it”. For future, let’s see… What I’ve experienced myself, I want something that you don’t need to wear a helmet or goggles with.
Larry: That’s why 3D has been coming three times in history. I just don’t see the whole world wearing those goggles all the time. It’s great for education or if you’re a gamer.
Mikko: But like widespread, people using 3D or VR, I don’t see that coming in the future.
Larry: I’ve seen this alternative marketing you’ve done with Toyota – that’s really super alternative and interactive. As far as going to computer, it just might be because I’m a little different generation. When I scroll down my Facebook or any of those feeds, when I see a 360° mouse, you know how many times I actually check that out? Never.
That doesn’t mean it will never work. If you’re selling real estate, 360° is quite cool. It serves its purpose for certain things. But all of a sudden, are general marketing and media switching to those kinds of ads? That I personally don’t see.
I think things like practical application: you wanna wear that headset normally? I avoid going seeing 3D movies – mostly because I don’t wanna wear 3D glasses. I also don’t think the cinematic experience is as beautiful. Those are the things people go to movies for, they like to watch stories. The content doesn’t all of a sudden have to be like “Oh I’m in the real movie”.
Mikko: When you go to 3D movies, they’re more like effects, not stories.
Larry: Yes, I mean that’s cool, a lot of the kids cartoons – some of the kids might think it’s fun. I’m not saying there’s no reason for them – they just don’t appeal to me as much, personally and on artistic level.
I’m an avant gardy artist guy, but I also have this classic sensibility when it comes to approach to art. My background comes from this disrupt-this-status-quo-thing. Also, when I teach – the first question when I hold a workshop – I always ask what’s the most famous painting in the world?
Yes, no-one’s ever gotten that question wrong. It’s a girl standing on a terrace. That’s where I go – why is that so special? A lot of it has to do with the backstory. Something you can add to your own work. Lot of my work has huge amounts of backstory. If you look at my Instagram feed, there’s double or triple entendre’s. Sometimes the messages are more personal: actually to people.
Have you seen the painting?
I haven’t seen the painting in person. I know it’s tiny. And there’s two of them as well cause he’d made two paintings.
When you go there, there’s 20 people in front of you and you’re watching it from 10 metres away.
Larry: Yes, you’re like “Ok that’s enough”. [laughs] But it’s a philosophical approach: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make it special. There’s a reason why we tell the same stories over and over throughout the generations.
Also, when you’re trying to reach broader markets, it’s nice to tell things that a lot of people can relate to. People relate to things that are classic and beautiful. You don’t have to explain so much. Sometimes people try too hard, try to be too clever. For me, the idea is only as good as the execution. It’s all about the final product.
How about your expectations for working here?
Mikko: I’m looking forward, generally. There isn’t one thing, there are many things I’m looking forward to. So far, the first couple of weeks have been fun. A lot of new things, a lot of interesting projects – and now it’s about getting your hands on it.
Getting your hands dirty already?
Larry: Yes, we filmed stuff already, made something simple: how do you make a 4:3 room look special? There’s nothing but a couple of pipes.
Yes, been there.
Larry: I know, and it’s just about wanting to. I have a passion for making images. I like that they’re giving me the opportunity to do what I love. I wanna take that level and show – in this market particularly – my vision is: now someone has empowered me to show what I can do in this market.
In general, where is the video industry going?
Mikko: Online, better stories…
Larry: I think it’s already here, it’s everywhere, it’s going where it is. Everything will be video.
Mikko: Going to drones and gimbals. [laughs] Which are bad.
Larry: They’re not bad. They’re just tools. They’re the safe go-to thing. You know, “I’ll go buy us a bag of chips. I like them, they’re not so great for me though. But everybody likes chips, everybody will have some. You have too many bags of chips and it will make you sick.” That’s how I feel about video at the moment. [laughs] And this is not just the old guy talking… I’m actually not the guy that has a problem with youth.
Mikko: You can be old and grumpy.
Larry: That has nothing to do with how I feel about younger generations, like “Oh the millennials”. There’s been a little bit of lack of mentorship with younger generations. I put the blame more on the older generation. We could teach people to think more autonomously, empower them to have some more tools. Not just buy whatever the new gimmick is this week.
The tech side has got us lazy: “Go out and do it quick, we can do a lot in post.” It’s like plastic surgery. The more plastic surgery we get, the more we look alike.
Mikko: What I feel like, is broadcasters, companies, they should be giving creativity a bit more freedom.
Larry: Yes, the template approach!
Mikko: And not thinking always like, you know this Mielensäpahoittaja –thing? There are always people who think this is bad or how I felt bad about this. But giving a bit more space and letting people be a bit more crazy with their ideas. And letting people’s ideas and thoughts come out, even the crazier things. I think the world needs that kind of things and thinking outside the box.
Larry: Yes, I never thought inside or outside per se.
Mikko: Everything doesn’t have to be the same. I think diversity is enrichment.
Larry: I like the diversity of this office. That was one thing I noticed when I came in. It is a pretty diverse crowd.
From two weeks of experience, how do you see FLIK in near future?
Mikko: Well I hope they keep growing. I hope we can, with Larry and our new creativity, make the next step. Especially on the branding and B2B stuff, make it more special and the customers more happy.
Larry: We’re gonna bring the cinematic quality to the content. I have a great confidence in being able to do that.
In the near future, I’d like to develop projects in a way that – I always think all things are special, they have to be special – and you have to say something about yourself, about the company. The priority is delivering content that is what it’s intended for, the clients needs and purposes.
That gets lost a lot in creative. A lot of the creative industry is about the creative person, and not really about the client and/or the company. It’s a challenge: how can I make this a beautiful story with beautiful images that also directly serves its purpose?
I wanna bring more of that regimented philosophy approach to creating content to this area. If we start thinking about it on that level, you start caring about it. It has a kind of ripple effect.
My work gets better when I think about it on that level. I go there, to their thing, what they want to say, and I think: “What if I wanted to express that about myself?” Not like, “I have this idea that makes me look cool”. I don’t care about cool. Other people get to decide that. Once you think you’re cool, or you want to be, you’re automatically not. Plus being cool is not that cool anyway!