At the 2013 Night Visions festival I spent some drinking time with Timo Vuorensola, the director of the Nazis-on-the-moon epic Iron Sky. Out of that came this interview, in which he talks about his developing sequel Iron Sky: The Coming Race. The major exclusive soundbite, widely shared from this article, is that the film will feature Adolf Hitler riding a dinosaur in the centre of the Earth. There’s also some stuff in there about his comic book adaptation Jeremiah Harm and his love for Lobo and Star Trek.
Originally published on the Empire website, but missing since the 2015 revamp.
Taking place in Helsinki last weekend was the awesome bi-annual genre film festival Night Visions. Udo Kier was the guest of honour (keep your eye on Empireonline for some fun with him), and, as always, rattling around the various proceedings was Timo Vuorensola, the improbably tall director of Iron Sky. Taking advantage of a rare 20-minute breathing space, he sat down with Empire for a coffee and a chat about the current state of Iron Sky 2, his comic book adaptation Jeremiah Harm… and Lobo and Star Trek.
How did the IndieGoGo campaign go? What’s the current status of Iron Sky 2?
We’re still at the script / financing / building-the-package phase. We’re defining the elements! We’ve cast a couple of the names already. A few people from the first Iron Sky are back on board, like Udo Kier and Julia Dietze, but a lot of new names are also popping in. What we know about the film now is that the story takes place in the centre of the Earth. We have Adolf Hitler riding a dinosaur in the centre of the Earth. That’s an image to etch in your brain! I like that. I like to find those little images that everyone remembers like, “What the fuck did I just see?” People will remember Adolf Hitler riding a dinosaur in the centre of the Earth.
Okaaaaaay… What’s the story?
It actually follows quite a well-known conspiracy theory, the Hollow Earth theory, which coincidentally is connected to the Nazi UFO theory and the Nazi moon landing theory. It’s a long and winding conspiracy theory, and we’re taking different loops in it, because it’s pretty funny and pretty interesting stuff.
So we’re not on the moon at all this time?
Oh we’ll definitely be on the moon! The story is a bit more epic this time. It starts three million years ago. I won’t say it’s “episodic”, but it does have some different sections like that.
Iron Sky surprised me: Nazis on the moon is such a goofy premise but then it goes quite Dr Strangelove later on and got more serious than I expected.
Yes, I think that was also a little bit of a problem for some people. I think a lot of people went into it just expecting an honest, C-class Nazis on the moon film! But we always wanted to come in with that B-movie premise and then take the story somewhere that B-movies usually don’t go. I think it was a strength for the film because it positioned it differently. It found itself in this weird in-between space, and I liked that a lot. It brought a certain energy to the thing. Whether you liked it or not it definitely had a unique perspective!
Udo was saying that you can’t set out to make a “cult” film: it’s the audience that has to decide whether it’s cult or not.
Yes, and I completely agree with that. So many times you hear, “Yeah, we’re working on this cult movie…” No, you’re not. It’s only a cult movie if the audience likes it.
Udo seems happy to be back…
We had a really good experience last time. We really became friends, which doesn’t happen with every actor you work with. I think with Iron Sky it was a bit strange because we were in this constantly sinking boat. The production was in deep trouble all the time, so it was a big fight to get it shot, and it bonded us all together. When we meet up we’re all like avalanche survivors or something.
Is it a lot bigger than the last one?
Well I won’t say exactly what the budget is, but it’s roughly twice what we had last time. We’re going to Los Angeles on Monday to present the project at the American Film Market. The IndieGoGo campaign raised money for a promo trailer and script. We wanted $150k and we raised $180k, so it was better than we expected. We aim to do that more along the production: to crowd finance parts of it. I think roughly a quarter of the film will be crowd financed. We’re working on the promo right now and we’ll shoot that early next year. We’re aiming to shoot the actual film in 2015, and have it ready for release in 2016. That’s the plan! But things can change, of course. I have another film I’m shooting in between
Which is Jeremiah Harm?
That’s right. It’s an American-financed film: a science-fiction action film based on a graphic novel. We’re shooting that in the spring in Hungary. I can’t reveal any cast yet. We have to wait a little while until all that is confirmed. That one’s more grounded than Iron Sky, but it has several elements that I haven’t done. The story is about an intergalactic bounty hunter chasing a bunch of criminals, so we have a lot of alien creatures, and I don’t want them to just be Star Trek aliens with different foreheads. We have to do digital space creatures, which is new to me.
Was that a project that started with you, or was it brought to you?
It’s a producer called Arnold Rifkin. He’s quite prolific, and he used to run the William Morris Agency for a long time before he was producing. He’s made a lot of films with Bruce Willis; he’s been around for a long time! Jeremiah Harm is a project he’s been developing on his own for some time, and then when Iron Sky came out he contacted me because I think he was looking for that kind of science fiction with a comedic sense to it. He wanted that tone and that combination. We’ve been developing it together for about a year now.
Were you already familiar with the comic?
No, I wasn’t. That doesn’t mean anything: I’m not a big comic book guy. But I did know the writer, Keith Giffen, because he did Lobo, which I loved.
Lobo would be a good project for you!
I know, but I think some other asshole is doing it. Don’t write “asshole”!
Guy Ritchie was attached to it for a while…
I know! What the fuck does he know about it! [laughs] My biggest fear with Lobo is that they pussy it out. There’s no reason to make it if you’re going to do that: you should just do another character. Lobo is the only real comic book character that I’d like to actually do one day, because it’s so outrageous. It has to be outrageous. He’s a character that goes to Heaven, sets up a black metal concert and gets thrown out to Hell and then kicks the ass of the devil while turned into a squirrel! What the fuck do you do with that?! You have to treat it right, and I’m concerned. But hopefully it’s going to be good. It’s been around for a long time though. People announce films and then nothing happens.
Before Iron Sky you made a Star Trek parody. How did that come about?
Yes, Star Wreck. It was just an independent thing in Finland. It was released on the internet in 2005 and turned out to be quite popular. It seemed there was a demand for something like it. It was just before the age of YouTube, so a feature film that was completely released for free online got a lot of attention. It’s an amateur, Finnish-language production but it looks pretty good. We spent seven years on the visuals! It was basically my film school. As far as the comedy goes, if you’re a hardcore Star Trek nerd you’ll probably have fun watching it. I don’t think it plays very well to anyone else!
So you’re a hardcore Star Trek nerd?
No, I actually wasn’t! I hadn’t seen any Star Trek at all: not even a film. To be honest, I read the script and I didn’t understand half of the jokes and I threw a lot of them out, and that turned out to be a good decision. It did make it more accessible, although it’s still a Star Trek / Babylon 5 parody. Later on, a couple of years ago, my girlfriend and I did a big Star Trek marathon, where we gave ourselves one year to watch every Star Trek episode and film. So that’s 729 episodes plus, at the time, eleven movies. It was about three episodes a day, every day, for a year. We almost got there. We just went a little bit over. So now I know everything, and I can watch my film and understand all the jokes I never got at the time! It’s kinda weird. I think Deep Space 9 is probably the best series, but the original Star Trek is the most loveable. One day I’d like to direct a proper Star Trek movie. That’s a big dream. One day…
Star Trek rather than Star Wars?
Yes! Although I do like Star Wars, of course. I’ve just recently been watching them with my kid, which has been fun. He liked the Ewoks.