The Finnish film industry is looking more and more lively nowadays. The international successes have not been that many in the past, compared to e.g. the Swedish movie industry focused on strong story telling, like the recent Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Saga. However, in the past few years the Finnish industry has been showing signs of much increased international ambitions. One of the most widest distributed Finnish films ever has been the animation Niko & The Way to the Stars, published in 2008.

The next big take seems now to be The Sampo, a feature length 3D stereoscopic animation film based on the Kalevala mythology by Northern Digital Film Company NDFC Helsinki, founded in 2006.

The Sampo is a magical wealth-generator in the Kalevala, an epic poem compiled from Finnish and Karelian folklore in the nineteenth century. Since its publishing, the Kalevala has been a huge inspirator to the Finnish arts. It has also inspired many foreigners, one of the most famous being J.R.R Tolkien who stated the Kalevala heavily influencing his works like The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

NDFC is currently seeking financiers to gather the needed estimated production budget of approximately 10 million euros for The Sampo. NDFC tells it is discussing with Asian and Russian investors, and a partner in China who could invest a significant part of the budget. Business-wise, NDFC naturally praises that of the worldwide box office Top 10 hits listed in IMDB, eight are adventure and fantasy movies, and the audience for these type of films is rather emotional. Thus the Kalevala-based movie could also very well strike gold.

The production is targeted to start in the beginning of 2011, and the film should to be ready by 2013. NDFC has just completed the first draft of the script, the concept trailer (see below), and first concept art pictures. The firm claims having spent two years in making a modern new version of Kalevala, modernizing its ancient Finnish language and then having that translated into English, with the help of writers, translators, and linguists.

Interestingly, NDFC also plans on creating very extensive and integrated social media marketing experience around the film. In the film there will be a pseudo ethereal character called Aurora Sodnabei Nord, who will “guide you through the legendary and mythical lands of Kalevala and Pohjola”.

Not only a film, NDFC is actually planning on making Aurora Nord: The Sampo a global trademark, and a massive global online community with Aurora having a personal-like presence on the social web. NDFC has already created a blog for Aurora, and an interactive video blog is said to be upcoming. Later on, community members can engage deeper, remix the art materials using their creativity and even resell these new productions.

What’s more, The Sampo is planned just to be the first stage – a whole film trilogy would be completed, followed by possible physical and digital product universe as well. That’s a healthy amount of ambition I would say – definitely good to aim big and beyond just a single product.

It is great to see all the activity going on in the (animation) film industry, as creative industries are what we need in the Nordics to cope with the more standardized work drifting over to lower cost regions. Along with the game industry, story telling expertise can also create good synergies with multiple other industries, considering story telling is also a key part of branding in general…

Concept Video of The Sampo: