Northern Script Camp 2023: Scriptwriting, Networking and a lot of Karaoke!!

Sauna, Salmon & Karaoke

What a camp Northern Script had this year at the Oulu Children’s and Youth Film Festival!!  The Faroese writer and Director, Andrias Høgenni  put once again all his heart into the Northern Script workshops and listened to the needs of the Nordic scriptwriters with the utmost respect and empathy. 

From the beginning it was clear that the Nordic scriptwriters have not come to the camp to rest. From morning until midnight the camp days were filled with the scriptwriting workshops and evening programme. 

We arrived at Oulu rainstation early hours of Wednesday morning after which the whole group had a big buffet breakfast in a local cafeteria. After breakfast, the workshops started. In his first workshop Høgenni talked about the character creation and gave feedback from everyone’s script. Høgenni also put everyone to act in some of the scenes of the stories they invented in the workshops. This worked surprisingly well as many of the Nordic scriptwriters had acting as their background besides scriptwriting. The workshops were filled with laughter, enthusiasm and motivated writers.

In the evening all the scriptwriters and the Oulu Film festival guests were put on a bus which landed in the middle of snow and dark forest 30 minutes away from the center of Oulu. 

There at Pehkolanlampi we were greeted with a tasty tar drink and delicious salmon soup. Afterwards everyone was invited to a sauna. Men and women separate sauna houses, of course. 

There in the middle of 80 degrees of heat, the laughter and talk was at its best. The young writers were able to talk with the film guests and network with them. Some of us jumped to the cold snow between the sauna visits and some of us chose to have a tarot card reading in the sauna by the camp participant from Iceland, Gógó Bergmann. After the sauna, the networking among the Film Festival guests and the camp participants continued.  At the end of the evening most of us went to a local karaoke bar where all of us were bonding around karaoke & film discussions.

Chilly Workshop & a Circus theme Masterclas

On Thursday straight after breakfast all the scriptwriters were encouraged to the streets of Oulu in the chilling minus temperatures. There out in the streets, the writers had to observe everyday pedestrians and make up a storyline for them. Back inside the writers in groups of two started writing their stories. The funny part was to change the writer of the story halfway through the exercise. This all led to funny and surprising storylines.. 

In the afternoon a German documentarist, Natalie Halla, showed the camp participants and the OSAO Vocational College Media students a document about a family circus life behind the scenes. Halla’s masterclass ended with a Q & A. Afterwards the Northern Script finalists and the local media students from OSAO had  a common networking event where they all in teams of 4 answered Movie Quiz questions related to different movie soundtracks. Most of the Film soundtracks were from 1970’s and 80’s but the young scriptwriters and local media students surprised the Northerrn Script coordinator, Johanna Lappalainen, with their good knowledge on older films as well.

Pitching exercises in 2 different ways & A long feature Film

Whole Friday focused on how to pitch your script from two different perspectives. While Høgenni focused on how to hook the producer to like your script,  Jenni Koski, Executive Director of Mediametka, focused more on the perspective of the producer and what kind of things the producer needs to hear in the pitching sessions. In the evening we all went together to the Oulu Children’s and Youth Film Festival to see a Finnish Film called ‘This is Normal’ by Ali Al-Saffu. After the film, there was a Q & A.

This is Normal

The film tells the lives of four youngsters living in the East Helsinki suburbs. Ali, Nedim, Shahin and Flamur are old friends, whose paths have gone different ways. Ali decides to do a radical change in his life that will affect everyone.

Awards Ceremony and a lot more karaoke..

Saturday was an exciting day for the camp participants. In the morning everyone had to pitch their own script in front of and international Jury.The International Jury members were:

Finnish Film Director and producer Tertta Saarikko

Icelandic actress and scriptwriter Kolbrún Anna Björnsdóttir

Finnish Film Director Ali Al-Saffu 

All the Nordic scriptwriters were slightly nervous before entering the pitching room but everyone was extremely happy afterwards. The point wasn’t to nail your pitch but to learn from it. The best part of the pitching exercise was to get much valued feedback from it.

In the afternoon there was much anticipated the Oulu Children’s and Youth Film Festival Awards Ceremony in which both the Nordic scriptwriters and the OSAO Vocational College Media students were invited to the stage to be thanked for their participation in the Northern Script 2023 programme. The highpoint of the Awards Ceremony was to see the three magnificent Short Films shot and edited by  OSAO Vocational College Media students. The scripts were written by Northern Script finalists 

Lasse Krintel -Party Clown

Gógó Bergmann –Útrás

Frederik Grønning – A Modern democracy

The themes of the films were dealing with subjects such as self-doubt, self-awareness, democracy & finding your self. The films were received well by the festival audience and they all got round of a applause afterwards. After the Awards Ceremonoy both the Northern Script finalists and the local Media students were invited into a private Ceremony of their own where we got to see some behind the scenes of the three short films and got to network a bit more. The night ended with a dinner with the Festival Film quests and an unforgettable karaoke night. Karaoke seem to bond the Nordic people. There in the middle of the night in a local karaoke bar all the Nordic scriptwriters one after one went to sing in front of a local crowd and gave us powerfull musical performances. The night culminated in a common song by the Beatles ‘Hey Jude’ The main singer was the camp leader, Andrias Høgenni , and the nananaa -choir was all the Northern Script scriptwriters together. A  night to remember rest of our lives for sure!!

Quiet but content night bus trip

After a almost a week long Northern Script camp, it was time to say Goodbye to Oulu and the Northern Script camp. However, the long hours put to the workshops, film people networking, hectic camp schedule & the evening programme took their toll on the young writers and the the atmosphere in the night bus from Oulu to the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport was quiet but content & happy. 

Feedback from the camp participants

‘What I didn’t expect was to bond so closely in such a short time, learn so much not only about writing but myself and others as creatives’ (Noora Jalokinos (27) Finland)

Thank you and the rest of the Northern Script for this huge experience. I feel very lucky and thankful for the week in Finland – and would love to do it all over again. Lovely people and I feel motivated to keep on writing scripts and telling stories (Lasse Krintel (23) Denmark)

‘We were given different writing challenges and focused a lot on pitching and preparing ideas which was perfect for me since I am at the stage where I want to start pitching my ideas soon.’ (Rebekka Rut Svansdottir (23) Iceland)

‘The whole Northern Script experience was definitely one of the best in my life and I will carry the lessons and memories from there with me hopefully to the grave.’ (Vili Jauhiainen (24) Finland)

‘This week was exactly what I needed and didn’t even know I did.A week filled with inspiration, laughter, bonding and surprisingly, KARAOKE nights!’ (Gógó Bergmann (24) Iceland)

‘Being part of the Northern Script Alumni program was super inspiring. The workshops verified my skills and interest for scriptwriting, and after the camp I felt like I’ve learned more about myself as a writer. ‘ (Jaana Jääskeläinen (27) Finland)

After thoughts

It is fair to say that Northern Script 2023 camp was very successful creating long-lasting friendships. The scriptwriters bonded and connected beautifully with each other and I have no doubt in my mind that we will hear about these scriptwriters in the future!! When people share the same passion and put their heart in this camp, the result is just magical. 

Northern Script 2023 thanks all the Nordic scriptwriters & the camp leader Andrias Høgenni  for their 100℅ input in the camp! 

Written by Northern Script coordinator Johanna Lappalainen

Photos by Johanna Lappalainen and the Northern Script 2023 finalists’ archive