Theme isolation inspired to write a horror story – this is Teemu Körkkö’s Northern Script experience

Teemu Körkkö

My Northern Script experience begun when I found the competition in the summer of 2020. I had written multiple short stories and a few scripts prior to finding the competition, but I had never participated.

Overall, I was sort of surprised to find out that there was a Scandinavian screenwriting competition into which you could submit a screenplay in English. 

Theme isolation felt inspiring

The competition’s theme of the year was isolation which I found to be very inspiring. I began formulating ideas about what could be the most interesting way to express the theme. 

My personal preferred genre is horror which often deals with isolation and closed spaces. That led me to consider many different ideas ranging from a Sci-Fi flick in which a crew of a spaceship had to survive with a limited number of resources to a present-day zombie flick in which a group of people were stuck in a single location.

I also considered if I wanted to write about a global pandemic but deemed that a bit too on the nose during the time of Covid-19.

What I ended up writing was a period piece about a family trying to survive in a distant cabin during a snowstorm. 

I submitted my screenplay to the competition on the final day (of the deadline) and the waiting begun. After a few months, I got word from the organizers that I had made it to the second round of the competition. I was incredibly surprised (and admittedly happy) because no one had ever validated my writing before this.

Zoom event started with jury meetings

The competition was organized on Zoom because a physical event would have been quite unsafe (taking into account, once again, that 2020 was a year of a global pandemic).

My first zoom meeting was with two different judges of the competition. I was nervous going in because I was still under the impression that my writing must be subpar compared to everyone else. They gave me advice on how I could expand on my screenplay, which parts they liked and what I should fix.

The meeting was quite lovely and surprisingly fun. My nervousness drained within the first five minutes because the judges were so friendly and approachable. For the record, the judges stayed incredibly supportive throughout the competition, which was just wonderful.

A few days later came the workshop phase of the competition. All the participants gathered into a Zoom meeting and two instructors (the two great Artturi Rostén and Aku Salminen) gave us screenwriting advice and different tools that we could use to further flesh out our characters. The workshop was incredibly pleasant and fun. It was also very nice to hear from the other participants and read their respective screenplays.

Essentially, everyone in that meeting loved film and you could feel it from the overall vibe.

We improved upon our screenplays and submitted our final versions. Then wewaited for the final event.

The final event was extremely exciting. The jury gave their supportive notes on the different screenplays. The jury chose two different screenplays (honorary mention and the winner). My screenplay, The Dead of Night received the honorary mention, whereas the win went to Alisa Korva and her magnificent screenplay Out of Sight.

Overall, I would recommend the experience to anyone who is interested inscreenwriting as a craft.

I learned a lot from the experience and made a lot of acquaintances from the different participants. All the different participants had (and still have) a unique, and interesting take on screenwriting, which I found to be very exciting.

-Teemu Körkkö

Teemu Körkkö got honorable mention of his script The Dead of Night in Northern Script competition 2020.

 

Northern Script 2020 is over – here are the winners!

Northern Script 2020 is over! The competition was very tight but in the end the judges decided on two scripts to be awarded. Teemu Körkkö with the script The Dead of night got the honourable mention and the prize winner is… Alisa Korva with the script Out of Sight! Congrats to Alisa and Teemu!
All of the finalists, judges and hosts deserve a honourable mention so here they are all together. From the top row from left to right: Alisa Korva, Ilmari Lappalainen (producer), Teemu Körkkö, Artturi Rostén and Aku Salminen (workshop hosts), Susanna Salmi, Mari Tirkkonen, Noora Jalokinos, Camilla Roos (judge), Sanni Mättö, Kirsi Vikman (judge), Mikko Peltotupa (judge) and lastly Artturi Rostén again.
This was the first time that NoSi was organized online and the experience was very positive. Whether the final will be organized online next year again is yet to be decided, but this year has shown us that it’s very much possible to organize a fantastic workshop from the safety of your own home. The next few months will tell how the competition will move on!

Northern Script 2020 is moving online

The final workshop of Northern Script 2020 is moving online instead of being held in Oulu. With this move we want to ensure the safety of all competitors and equal chances of participation regardless of possible travel limitations.

We are motivated and confident in making a fantastic online workshop for the finalists. Thank you for your support!

Meet the workshop team of 2020

Artturi Rostén

McWhirter Photography
McWhirter Photography

Despite his short career and young age Artturi has done a lot in many places. He has successfully graduated from Juhana Herttua art, theatre and media based high school and from the Film & Television study program at the Arts Academy of Turku University of Applied Sciences as an editor and director. During his education and film studies Artturi was involved in 92 different AV-industry projects. After graduation the pace of productions and work haven’t slowed down.

Artturi works mainly as an editor for commercials, feature films and documentaries but has directed dozens of short films ( of which some have won awards at international festivals), several music video productions and three feature films. By commissioned work he has also slowly slipped in to the world of professional, almost daily screenwriting routine.

Artturi loves genre-content and is investing on the subject. He will be lecturing about horror film theory and dramaturgy at University of Turku fall 2020. At the moment he is working on a horror short with his team, writing a horror-drama screenplay for series and a crime feature with horror elements.

Aku Salminen

Aku Salminen is a screenwriter and artist from Turku, Finland. He has written screenplays and scripts for short films, TV-series, escape rooms and video games.

Aku and Artturi have collaborated in several projects, with success, and have a mutual understanding of project goals.

Winner of 2019 – Marianne Lauritsen’s Northern Script experience

In November 2019 I took part of Northern Script in Oulu, Finland. The trip went beyond my expectations, as I in the end was announced as the winner of the script competition. Here are some words on my experience with Northern Script, before, during and after.

My story with Northern Script actually goes back to 2017, which was also the first year of the competition. As a young filmmaker in the North of Norway I was part of many Facebook groups regarding this, and I believe it was in one of those groups where info about the competition was first published. So, I wrote a script, back then, and I sent it. The script then was about a daughter visiting her isolated father in a mountain cabin, finding out her father had somewhat unorthodox extra-terrestrial hobbies, as well as a new girlfriend. But somehow, the script must have gone missing in the e-mail universe, and I never got a reply, and thus never got into the competition, and I was perhaps too shy to ask. Then, in 2018, I wanted to participate again, but simply couldn’t get the good idea down on paper, plus my final year of film studies, so there was enough to do. In retrospect, I see that it was a good thing that the script was lost in 2017, because if I had participated in the competition then, I would probably not have submitted this year, and then I would not have had any of the good experiences related to Northern Script, now and in the future.

But then came August 2019, I was done with my studies, didn’t have a job, and tried to live in a shared house in the fishing village of Henningsvær, not really knowing what to do. For some reason, I had forgotten that the competition existed, and when I suddenly remembered, there were only a couple of weeks to the deadline. So, when all my flatmates went to their jobs, unemployed/freelance me went to the café down the street to write. This time, the idea was quite clear in my head, and all I had to do was carve it out and refine it. The result of that became the script “Roskilde”, which derived from experiencing the festival of Roskilde in Denmark myself, just some weeks before. There I stepped into a universe on its own, with its own logic and expectations, and it was this that I tried to turn into writing.

A few weeks after submitting, I got the good news of becoming a participant in Northern Script 2019, and the good news that a trip to Finland was on the schedule. For me, writing and travelling are two of my main passions, so combining them is always a new dream coming true.

Refining my script as a part of the competition was also an interesting experience. Then I had not touched the script in two months, and when revisiting it, I saw both that it had its qualities, as well as details to be changed. Often, when writing I am so in the middle of it, which makes me both very critical and tired of the whole project, and I usually don’t manage to see the work with fresh eyes. Therefore, my tip to my future self when writing longer projects; let it rest a bit and see that is was not as bad as you thought, and that there is potential.

At last, the trip to Finland was at hand, a country I had never been to before. It coincided with the Oulu Youth Film Festival, which was very nice. I liked Oulu, with its lovely wooden buildings, mythical lake landscapes and surprising high levels of culture. The highlight was definitely going to Pehkolanlampi, the beautiful and big timber cabin in the woods. There we had salmon soup, and most important of all; the authentic Finnish Sauna experience. This was a wonderful experience, with all the nakedness and sweat you can imagine. It will take a long time to top this sauna experience, and I do sauna a lot.

At last, the award ceremony. There are few things that can beat the feeling of having your own name announced as the winner of a competition, any competition, but especially one within the field you wish to make your career. Winning the Northern Script is a good thing for several reasons. On a personal level, I get the confirmation and acknowledgement for my work, that I do need, even if I wish I didn’t. That someone, several people, see the potential of my work, that it has some quality and that I have something to contribute with, that is gold. A sheer confidence boost. On a more professional level, it is very valuable to be able to point to this, both that it is a very concrete thing that I have done, but also that it was noticed by other people. And this will become useful, when I inevitably will be in the situation where I have to apply for funds for my projects or apply for some sort of a job or grant.

So, my Northern Script Experience is over, for now, but it wont be long until I tap into it again. In June, I get to go to NUFF, the Nordic Youth Film Festival in Tromsø, which was the award. Perhaps the script will also travel on, I hope so, although I do not quite know how yet, as I am more into writing films than making them these days. I had a good time with the Northern Script, and I hope it continues and becomes more known than it is, because it is a very marvellous opportunity and I would not be without it.

Thank you, to Northern Script, to Oulu, to Pehkolanlampi, and to all the kind people I met in Finland.

Marianne Lauritsen

Winner of 2019 is Marianne Lauritsen

For the first time in competition history, the winner is Norwegian. 23-year-old Marianne Lauritsen won the competition with a script called Roskilde.

Marianne Lauritsen. Photo: Milla Korkeamäki

The winning script is located in the Roskilde festival in Denmark. The story is about different relationships like friendship and one night stands described from a female point of view. As a reward, Lauritsen will get an entrance to the film workshop held by Nordic Youth Film Festival in Tromsø next summer.

The winning script caught the jury’s attention by its precise perceptions of its topic.

The winning script caught the jury’s attention by its precise perceptions of its topic. The script is bold and insightful, poetic, too, its characters and dialogue carefully crafted and believable and the story brilliantly narrowed down to a very specific space and time and particular repetitive moments.
The script manages to capture that point in young adults’ life, when what you really want is still a bit of a blur, but the capacity to pose as if you’re on top of the game, however, has already developed to its fullest. With its choice, the jury wishes to encourage others, too, to write about what they know about the best.

-Jury members Reetta Aalto and Mikko Peltotupa

The final event of Northern Script was held in Oulu, Finland 21. – 23.11.2019. Northern Script is organized by Finnish Metka Centre for Media Education together with Oulu International Children’s and Youth Film Festival (FI), Nordic Youth Film festival (NO) and Barn- och ungdomsfestival (SWE).

Change of plans – Reetta Aalto in Northern Script jury

Reetta Aalto

Northern Script 2019 will have a change in jury. Director-screenwriter Reetta Aalto will replace Kirsikka Saari. Unfortunately, Saari had to cancel her trip to Oulu.

Reetta Aalto (born 1976) is a Helsinki-based filmmaker, who writes and directs both fiction and documentary films. She is one of the seven director-writers of the episodic film Force of Habit (2019) and known also for her documentary film Grey Violet – Odd One Out (2017), which premiered at Hot Docs International Film Festival and the awarded internet hit animation Pussy for
Beginners (2015). As a director her selected filmography includes the Prix Europa nominee tv-miniseries Paradise (2010) and the short films Fingerling (2018), The Inspection (2015) and Girls’ Night (2008). Currently she is developing a feature length comedy and writing her debut
novel, which will be published in spring 2020.

Meet Maija Puska – our pre-selection jury member

Maija Puska is a free journalist and a specialist in media education.

This year Northern Script made a new record with 30 participants. Free journalist and media education specialist Maija Puska will read through all the scripts.  Maija has studied scriptwriting and creative writing in Finland and has been writing films and commercials. As a writer, Maija is mostly interested in the themes of youth and media culture. She loves cats.

All the participants will receive short feedback about their scripts and the best six writers will receive longer feedback and a possibility to improve their scripts. The best six writers will be invited to Oulu into a scriptwriting workshop at the end of November.  

 

How does it feel to have feedback about your texts? – Listen podcast

The finalists of Northern Script 2018. Photo: Kaisa Myllylä

Copywriters and podcasters Essi Pulkkinen and Jukka Ahola worked as a pre-selection jury in Northern Script competition in 2018. They red all the scripts and chose the best scripts and writers to take part in the second round of the competition. They made an extra effort to make sure that all the scripts were judged as equal as possible. 

Essi and Jukka also met the finalists in Oulu during Oulu International Children’s and Youth Film Festival. During the meeting, they recorded a podcast episode about the competition. They talked (mostly in Finnish) with finalists and discussed writing, receiving feedback and meeting in Oulu. Listen here what they have to tell about the competition (mostly in Finnish) : 

https://kertojanaani.fi/podcast-jakso-56-kirjoituskilpailu-northern-script/

Kirsikka Saari named in Northern Script jury

Kirsikka Saari is a screenwriter and a director based in Helsinki. She was Oscar-nominated for the short film Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?. She has written a script for a feature film Stupid Young Heart (dir. Selma Vilhunen), which won the Crystal Bear in the Berlinale 2019. She has written many scripts for TV-series and directed several short movies. Her latest short film is Super Comfort. Kirsikka Saari is a founding member of Tuffi Films.