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.

 

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.

Northern Script has named first jury member – Mikko Peltotupa is the winner of Northern Script 2017

Northern Script jury member Mikko Peltotupa is the winner of Northern Script 2017. Nowadays he is studying screenwriting at the Aalto University in Helsinki. He has worked as a copywriter, journalist and as a packer in a cheese factory. At the moment he is working with a short film about a teddy bear suffering insomnia.

He encourages all to participate in Northern Script because the competition has taught him how to improve your thinking and texts. He says the experience Northern Script gave him was immeasurable.

You can read Mikko’s thought about the competition more here (in Finnish).

Winner of Northern Script 2018 – Juuso Kuusisto’s thoughts about competition

A short summary in English:

Juuso Kuusisto won Northern Script competition in 2018. Nowadays he works in the film industry and he dreams of writing and directing his own feature film someday. Through Northern Script competition Juuso met many great people. He thinks that probably the best sauna in the world is in Oulu, Finland.

In Finnish:

Olen aktiivinen ihminen. Töiden ulkopuolella minulla ei ole koskaan tylsää, sillä täytän päiväni aina vapaa-ajan projekteille. Parasta motivaatiota projekteilleni kuitenkin on, jos saan sen osaksi jotain tapahtumaa. Siksi osallistun usein kilpailuihin, sillä näistä saa usein aikarajan, teeman ja mahdollisen esityspaikan työlle.

Aiemmin olen osallistunut lukuisiin eri taidekilpailuihin, mutta aiemmin en ollut törmännyt käsikirjoituskilpailuun. Northern Script järjestettiin ensimmäisen kerran vuonna 2017 ja osallistuin heti saatuani tiedon kisasta yliopistoni sähköpostiin. Olin tuolloin valmistunut taiteen kandiksi Lapin yliopistosta. Pääsin finaaliin ja matkalle Ouluun itse festivaaliin. En voittanut kisaa, mutta tapasin hienoja ihmisiä ja sain hyvää rakentavaa palautetta, miten työstää kirjoitustani. Osa finalisteista on sijoittunut kisan jälkeen varsin merkittäviin käsikirjoitustehtäviin.

Ensimmäisen kisan jälkeen jatkoin näyttelijän keikkojen tekemistä Helsingissä ja aloin samalla päästä sisään elokuva-alan maailmaan. Tutun tuotantokoordinaattorin kautta pääsin kesällä 2018 tekniseksi assistentiksi Diili-sarjan uudelle kaudelle. Töiden lomassa julkistettiin uusi aikataulu ja teema Northern Script 2018 -kisalle. Olin jo ensimmäisen kisan aikana päättänyt osallistua, joten työkiireistä huolimatta en olisi jättänyt väliin, vaikka mitä olisi tapahtunut.

Minulla on aina muutama tarinaidea takataskussa. Kuultuani teeman, valitsin niistä sopivimman ja työstin käsikirjoitusmuotoon. Itse kirjoitusvaihe kesti vain kaksi tuntia. Lähetin valmiin käsikirjoituksen, enkä ajatellut asiaa sen enempää. Tärkeintä olisi, että pääsisin taas viettämään aikaa uusien ihmisten kanssa, jotka jakavat saman intohimon kuin itse.

Kului aikaa, siirryin kameraharjoittelijaksi Yellow Filmsille syksyllä. Lopulta sain tiedon, että olen finaalissa. Olin tietenkin innoissani. Samaan aikaan tosin tarjoutui mahdollisuus puolen vuoden työhön videoassistenttina Suomen kalleimman sarjan teossa ja sen päivät menisivät päällekkäin finaalin kanssa. Sain onneksi neuvoteltua itselleni kisapäivät vapaaksi, jotta pääsin lähtemään.

Tällä kertaa finalistit saivat toistensa tekstit jo etukäteen ja tapasimme toisemme juna-asemalla ennen lähtöä. Yövyimme myös mukavasti makuuvaunuissa. Uskon, että kaikki olivat tulleet samoilla lähtökohdilla kisaan: halusta tavata ihmisiä ja pitää hauskaa.

Oli kiinnostavaa taas nähdä, kuinka eri taustaisia osallistujat olivat. Tässä vaiheessa en yhtään ajatellut, kuka voittaisi. Finaali koostui taas muutamasta keskustelumuotoisesta tapahtumasta, joissa annoimme palautetta toisillemme ja saimme palautetta alan asiantuntijoilta. Päivien rytmi oli hyvä ja harkittu ja ruokailut olivat järjestetty hyvin. Kävimme myös kahdessa eri elokuvanäytöksessä. Finaalin yksi kohokohtia on ehdottomasti matka metsässä sijaitsevaan hirsilinnaan, jossa oletettavasti on Suomen paras sauna. Täällä pääsi tapaamaan eri kulttuurivaikuttajia kuten aiemmin katsomamme elokuvan ohjaajan.

Lopulta koitti finaaliaamu, jollloin voittaja julkistettaisiin palkintojenjaon yhteydessä. Vietin hetken aikaa yksin. Lenkkeilin auringon noustessa rantaa pitkin ja kävin kaupungilla. Muistan, kuinka ajatus arkeen palautumisesta ahdisti. Ei siksi, etten pitäisi työstäni, vaan koin etten pääsisi ilmaisemaan taiteellisesti itseäni pitkään aikaan. Tiesin myös, että pian ihmiset, joiden kanssa oli ollut niin hauskaa, katoaisivat omille teilleen. Aikuisena asioiden on tapana mennä niin. Tuolla hetkellä en tiennyt, että vain pari tuntia myöhemmin minut julistettiin voittajaksi yleisön edessä.

En ole koskaan voittanut mitään ja parrasvaloissa seisominen on äärimmäisen outo tunne. Iän kanssa olen oppinut kuitenkin, että pitää antaa kiitosta ja osata ottaa sitä vastaan. Finaali noudatteli pitkälti elokuvan draaman kaarta. Kisahumun hälvettyä oli kotiinlähdön aika. Niin nopeasti, kuin olin nämä ihmiset tavannutkin, olivat he jo poissa.

Nyt neljä kuukautta myöhemmin istun pyhäjärveläisessä hotellihuoneessa, jossa olen asunut jo yli kolme kuukautta. Ulkona on pakkasta, on pimeä ja kylän ainoa baari on mennyt kiinni. Olen silti töissä alalla, jota rakastan ja haluan olla osa sitä keinolla millä hyvänsä. Pyrin kirjoittamaan aina kun aikaa ja jaksamista on. Tulevaisuus vaikuttaa vielä hieman epäselvältä mutta jos nyt kertoisin vuoden takaiselle itselleni, mitä kaikkea vuodessa ehtii tapahtua, tuskin uskoisin itseäni. Odotan kuitenkin palkintomatkaa Norjaan kesäkuussa.

– Juuso Kuusisto maaliskuussa 2019