ESP 2015: Interview with Jussi Sandhu and Niina Virtanen

ESP 2015: Interview with Jussi Sandhu and Niina Virtanen

March 12, 2015

The first ESP project that was busted by Nisimazine’s eavesdropping devices is the red tied Finnish duo Jussi and Niina who presented their dark comedy Mudslide.

Goodbye to innocent childhoods. Jussi Sandhu and Niina Virtanen are not aiming for a
happy magical world in Mudslide. The young girl Isle is thrown into a racist nightmarish
world when her friend Matti tells her that black people are taking over Finland after
seeing her black snowman.

– How did a story about a black snowman develop into your project Mudslide?
Sandhu: I think I had the first idea a few years back, it must have been around Christmas because
in Finland they always show this British snowman animation, it’s a classic and it has a rerun every
year. That somehow connected with a couple of racist experiences I encountered. So, the idea was
in my head for a long while, though it was only one and half year ago that I started writing it down
and had the first draft on paper.

– And you were a fan from the first hour? How did you get involved as a producer?
Virtanen: We work in the same production company (Wacky Tie FILMS ), the one Jussi owns, and
we wanted to take this forward for a long time. I really liked the script from its initial birth but I have
to say it evolved a lot this past 6 months and now it’s going to be really something.

– Putting racial issues on the big screen is walking a thin line. Do you agree?
Sandhu: Trying to figure out how to address the racial tension was one of the main challenges we
dealt with in the Poznan workshop. We wanted to keep the script provocative and punchy but we
sure don’t want people to read it conversely. This is a touchy subject so people could easily
interpreter it as a racist film instead of the critique we’re aiming for. So, hopefully it shows what we
are trying to convey.

– In terms of development, how far are you with the project and what is the plan for the future?
Virtanen: We are still very early in the pre-production. So now that the script is more or less in the
shape we want it to be, we’re going to apply for funding, shoot it, and hopefully at one point, later
on, get to the animation.
Sandhu: I think ESP has been very crucial at where we are now; we wouldn’t have developed
the script further without the guidance of ESP, especially from the tutors. Also, the feedback we got
from the other PARTICIPANTS  has been very valuable, especially in this multicultural setting, it
opened new views on our project.
Virtanen: I have only been present for the co-production forum; these two days- with all the
meetings and pitching- have really been a stimulating learning experience. Now, after the one-onone
meetings, I truly believe an international co-production is an OPTION . The talks with the
producers were promising, so I’m positive about making this project in an international context. And
that was what we’re hoping for.

By Matthias Van Hijfte

Here you can find more information about the project.