Cold Sweats in Lapland

Bollywood action thriller WAR is the biggest production ever to be filmed in Finnish Lapland. Grillifilms had the pleasure of doing service production for it. Directed by Siddharth Anand with an assistance of Hollywood action director Paul Jennings (Game of Thrones, Batman Begins).

The joyride started with an unexpected FaceTime call on Boxing Day 2018 in the midst of my vacation: “We are looking for a producer in the Nordics with an experience in shooting car chase scenes on ice”. They found us since we had serviced Audi and Shell car commercial in a similar weather conditions.

Finland was competing with Sweden over the locations, but after director’s recce to both countries, he chose Rovaniemi:
“I wanted snow, just endless snow. And from a cinematic point of view, the snow and especially the trees with such beautiful light falling on them at any time of year, it’s just too gorgeous. And the unparalleled visuals we found in Finland were like a director’s dream”, said director Siddharth Anand in an interview for House of Lapland.

The national production incentive system had also an effect on the decision. After all, Finland grants 25% cash rebate for foreign film producers, if shot in Finland.

It was the first time for me to service a feature film. Surprisingly, there were no differences between commercial and film production. Well, maybe a little less decision makers!
Preparations for the scene took three months, and the production crew spent two weeks in Rovaniemi, filming over six days. The best part was to see when all the people, from eight different countries, started to work together. The language of filmmaking is universal after all.

Our crew included nearly 70 people at best. The car rigs and stunts required a special team, which came from Norway. The rig called Russian Arm enabled camera to follow the hero car very close when driving in high speed. Action director Paul Jennings kept toy cars in his pocket and used them while planning the car choreography with director.  

The Indian crew, around 20 people, are really experienced, having filmed all over the world. Most of them were not daunted by the snow or cold. We naturally helped them with proper gear. It was at times almost 30 degrees below zero.

The production was close to be cancelled, since the original car deal did not happen. In the end we did have four Audi R8s on set, from private owners driving maximum speed, doing crazy stunts, on icy road.

Our second biggest challenge was to get the ice track in the right condition, after a couple of days of warm temperatures. Fast car chases require a thick enough, long-lasting and even surface. Another challenge was to get the cars back into shape after they were damaged doing stunts.

The biggest Thank You came from the director. Here’s what he said in one of his interviews:
“Once we found the location and a great production team in Finland to handle the scale we were looking for, our choice was made for us. Considering that Finland is a relatively small country population-wise, it’s amazing that we found a crew so professional and organised. We worked in over 7 countries for this film, and the Finnish crew gave us one of the most brilliant experiences working abroad we’ve ever had.”, said Anand.

I could have not done this without the help of the crew. Especially I want to thank our Grillifilms team: Ronja Pero and Mia Ekman, Harri Nieminen -Location Manager, Daniel Kuitunen – Production Manager, Mika Pajunen – Line Producer, Koptercam team and last but not least Calle Borresen at Moviebird. 
I would be very happy to use my experience in other jobs, for clients coming both from other countries and Finland.

War premiered on Oct. 2. The production filmed in seven other countries—Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Georgia, Australia and India.

Producer: Yash Raj Films
Director: Siddhart Anand
DoP: Ben Jasper
Budget ca 20 m€ 
Actors in main roles: Hrithik Rosnan, Tiger Shroff
Link to a trailer: Youtube
The film received incentives from Business Finland
The city of Rovaniemi supported the production.

Author Hanna Tuovio