Interview: Jalmari Helander and Onni Tommila of “Big Game”

Posted on June 27, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Big Game, now in theaters and on VOD, is an exciting action movie about Oskari, a Finnish kid on a solo hunting trip, who has to save the President of the United States when he is ejected from Air Force One during an attack. I spoke to writer/director Jalmari Helander and star Onni Tommila, who is also his nephew.

The President is played by Samuel L. Jackson, already a favorite of Tommila’s, because of “Star Wars.” He enjoyed talking to Jackson between takes and said he picked up some acting pointers by watching him, especially about improvising. Jackson also taught him a special handshake.

Copyright 2015 Big Zero Entertainment
Copyright 2015 Big Zero Entertainment

Jackson was a fan of Helander’s previous film, “Rare Exports,” and when he expressed interest in being in this movie, “it sounded really cool to me,” said Helander.

Shooting outdoors in the mountains posed some problems for Helander. “Of course when you are shooting outdoors and especially when we were up in the mountains it almost never goes like you had planned. We had some difficulties with the weather and it was probably the second day when we started shooting there was snow up in the mountains and things like that. So there was a lot of things not expected with the weather. We had to shoot of course anyway because we were up in the mountains and it is really expensive to get all the people up into the mountain. So we just shot the last scene of the film with the snow and we were just hoping that the snow would melt away so we could shoot the earlier scenes. On the third day of shooting and it actually did. We were very lucky with the weather but of course there were some minor changes and things like that.” Another challenge was shooting the scenes in Air Force One submerged in water. “It was in the studio. It was a big and complicated set because it involved, there was so much water in it. And when you have water and you have a lot of electricity and stuff like that it gets quite complicated but I really loved the set and it was really fun to work with it. I remember that some stunts Sam didn’t love so much because he had to lay there in the water for a long time.”

He spoke about the costume worn by Tommila. “I was trying to get the designer to somehow make Oskari look like he doesn’t belong int the forest as much as all the other Finnish guys in the beginning of the film. The Finnish hunters look like very typical outdoor, forest kind of men. I was trying to add more color to Oskari and something that he could actually wear somewhere else, probably in the school or something like that. So I was trying to make him look like he doesn’t belong there as much as everybody else. Then of course when he meets the President, who has a suit and tie stuff like that, Oskari started to look like he belonged there hell of a lot more than the President.” And the vest he wears was inspired by “Back to the Future.”

Tommila laughed when I asked him if he did any of the stunts. “I would like to say that I did but no.” As for acting, he said that the most important thing in acting is “you must jump into the character and think that you are the character so that you are in this situation right now and not pretend it.”

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