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Round patterns are drawn on the glass of a steamy security guard’s booth; two adolescents and shopping trolleys on a nocturnal parking lot. The directors of the new trailer for Cut to the Chase – R&A Shorts, Henna Välkky and Samuel Häkkinen of Silent Paprika Films, tell us how the almost unreal dance trailer was created.

During the last ten years, Silent Paprika Films have experimented with multiple different styles and genres in both big and small projects. The R&A Shorts trailer, named When No One Is Around, continues the melancholic and even surreal style that characterises the works of the director duo.

– We often notice that we combine elements of mystery, comedy and even horror in our works. In this trailer, a dream-like atmosphere is joined with realism, and it plays with the boundaries of reality and unreality. Utilising filming and lights, we wanted to create a bright stage out of a parking lot that would contrast with the daily greyness, director Henna Välkky recalls.

The idea for the trailer stemmed out of a photograph, in which lonely shopping trolleys stand on a brightly lighted parking lot. Cinematographer Janne Häkkinen went on to create a stage-like lighting with spotlights that were mounted on the parking lot’s ceiling structures.

– The atmosphere in the photograph was somehow sad, but captivating at the same time. It inspired a story – what could have happened before that moment?

The directors name Jurek’s wonderful composition as well the young dancers, Sini Hiipakka and Iina Nyländen, as the soul of the trailer.

– The dancers improvised the whole trolley performance straight to the music on the set. Many of the visual elements were also considered at length; one special mention could be Sini’s flashing, red armour that we found at a flea market. Our costume designer Elina Ström fell deeply in love with it and wanted to keep it as a memory from the set. To this day, we haven’t figured out where they are used.

The biggest challenge turned out to be finding the right location, as there are not many such security guard’s booths in Finland.

– In the end, we shot on the rooftop car park of Shopping Centre Easton, where our scenographer Heidi Jokinen conjured the booth out of a shopping trolley shelter. The steam was created with a big clothes steamer in between the shots.

HIFF – Love & Anarchy acts as a great inspiration for Henna Välkky and Samuel Häkkinen.

– Many of the films we’ve seen at the festival have stayed to haunt our minds. The best part is also seeing acquaintances at shows and discussing the films with the group.

The dream of their own film as part of Love & Anarchy came true last year, when Välkky’s latest short film, We Are in a Dream, took part in the R&A Shorts national competition.

– A refined thought is essential in short films. The style and even narration can often be more experimental and free. The best thing with shorts is that they are sort of like exaggerated accounts of the world, looking like their creators. All it can take is one scene – or even one photo.

The melancholy of the lonely trolleys is truly transmitted; only one movement can erase it all.

Words: Tiia Toivari