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Underworld Trilogy: Interview - Minna Virtanen
Minna Virtanen

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Interview with Minna Virtanen (Director)

Why did you want to make a miniseries about the Northern European criminal world?

Finland has a very unique position between the east and the west. We have the very last borderline crossing from the European Union to Russia. That is why our geographical position is very interesting and inspires many criminal storylines.

What did you want to describe about this criminal world?

I wanted to describe the Northern European criminal world as realistic as possible. In our series all the characters and their actions are very real. Their basic motives and desires don´t differ very much from the ones of ordinary people. These people just happen to live and work in the criminal world. You may be a very good farther but still your job is to smuggle drugs. The world we live in is not black and white.

How did you find information about this Criminal World? How did you investigate, How did you prepare for shooting?

We interviewed police from the Narcotics Unit and the guards from the Finnish border. We visited borders from Finland to Russia and investigated very carefully how the drug trafficking takes place in a real world. Also actors were prepared.

Why did you shoot in different languages (Finnish, Estonian, Russian, and English)? Did you enjoy it?

I loved shooting in different languages. It was important that the characters spoke their own languages in order to be as realistic as possible. I don't understand a word of Russian or Estonian and it did not matter. It is the overall screen presence of the actor performing a character that matters. In acting the spoken language is only one element.

How did you choose your actors?

We had normal auditions. I wanted to find actors with strong screen presence.

How did you choose your filming locations?

We shot the series in Helsinki, St. Petersburg and in Stockholm. We shot both on real locations and in studios. It was very challenging to find visually great and realistic exterior locations in St. Petersburg and in Stockholm, because most of the interior shots happening in Russia or in Sweden we set in the studios in Helsinki.

What are your next projects?

At the moment we are developing two feature films, both of them are very intriguing drama thrillers. One takes place in London. And the other one takes place one hundred years ago in Finland.

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