Pictures Unknown

8 May 2012 | 8:00 am | Baz McAlister

Space Nazis from the moon invade planet earth in sci-fi comedy romp Iron Sky. Writer-director Timo Vuorensola tells Baz McAlister exactly what he was smoking.

It began, as all the finest Finnish ideas do, in a sauna.

“It was while we were shooting our earlier film Star Wreck [an internet-released Star Trek parody],” says filmmaker Timo Vuorensola. “We were sitting in this sauna, and one of my friends said our next film should be about moon Nazis. It was a funny idea but we never really thought about it that much until we started looking it up on the Internet and realised there are a lot of people out there with theories along the same lines. It was a really cool idea and we decided to pursue it.”

The result is Iron Sky, one of the most distinctive-looking and fun films you'll see this year. Nazis have indeed been squirreled away on the moon since 1945, regarding the Earth with envious eyes and slowly but surely drawing their plans against us. Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto) is the militant superman and Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) the doe-eyed ingénue who become the darlings of the media when they land on our world and fall under the spell of spin doctor and PR maven Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant).

Vuorensola says that from the beginning, he wanted to make a film that was more than just an outrageous B-movie. “I had this melancholic mood in the back of my head for the film,” he says. “It is a comedy, but I want to carry a message. Very early on we decided we wanted to do a more complex and layered story, more than just a simple action movie. Rather than call it Evil Nazis From The Moon – Americans can do that if they do the remake! – we wanted to do something deeper.”

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Based in Finland, Vuorensola assembled an international team and ended up shooting in Germany and southeast Queensland – in January 2011, battling rising floodwaters all the while. The shoot in Germany proved tricky as well.

“By law you cannot bring any Nazi symbols into Germany, and we had created all our costumes in Finland but there was no way to import them,” Vuorensola says. “In the end it just took a lot of legal paperwork. But when you go shooting – in Australia we had guys standing on the street corner with Nazi uniforms, and no one really cared. 'Oh, they're a freaky bunch' – but in Germany you have to cover all the swastikas up well when you're not shooting. It's not really a problem over there – I mean, if you see someone in a Nazi uniform it's more probable it's a film shoot than the Nazis have come back – but it's still something that can cause problems with the police.”

Vuorensola says the film has been well received in Germany already, giving the lie to the old perception that Germans have no sense of humour – but then, a lot of Germans did pay money to get the film made, as did people from all over the planet as part of Vuorensola's rather innovative way of raising his budget.  

“We used the community to help in three ways,” he explains. “The first was crowd-sourcing, where the idea is you get creative input from the community. All sorts of different things, like do we use a 3D model of a spaceship, or make the posters. The second way is crowd-funding; you sell something like a T-shirt, or War Bonds, so people can say they supported Iron Sky. And the third way is crowd investing, where you put a certain amount of money into the production – starting at 1,000 Euros – and when the film starts to make money, you start to make money because you have a small share in the film. We raised more than one million Euros doing this – and we got an army of advocates, a ready-made marketing team.”

Iron Sky opens in cinemas Thursday 10 May.