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Opinion

Let’s make film and TV business in Lapland sustainable 

A sustainable future is being sought for the Finnish Lapland film industry, writes Anna Niemelä.

Finnish Lapland has seen fast growth in film and TV productions in recent years. 200 days of snow in winter, endless sunlight in the summer months and locations ranging from urban to rough wilderness (Arctic mountains and tundra, forest, waterfalls and lakes), combined with professional services, extensive infrastructure and a 25 per cent cash rebate, make filming in Lapland an attractive proposition.

However, as the film industry grows here, we need to ensure this growth is sustainable.

To help productions to ensure sustainability, the Finnish Lapland Film Commission has created a code of conduct, the first of its kind in Finland. Sustainable production is an especially important topic in Lapland, where we have unique and vulnerable natural locations and culture. The code is intended as a guideline for good practices for all film, commercial and television productions working in Lapland. It includes guidelines about filming in nature and in cities, tips about depicting local communities and cultures in an appropriate and respectful manner, and practical recommendations for green and sustainable filming.

Lapland’s greatest draw for film-makers is its unspoilt wilderness. In Finland, every person has the right to enjoy natural areas, as long as they cause minimal harm to property and to nature. The everyman’s right allows you free passage and utility of natural areas without the permission of landowners. In Finland, it is easy to film without specific permits, even in cities.

“Responsible film-making doesn’t end with the environment.”

Together with these rights comes the responsibility to respect nature, other people and property. There are different kinds of natural parks and some detailed rules and regulations for those areas. Metsähallitus manages Finland’s state-owned lands and waters and grants permits for activities in these areas if needed.

We pride ourselves on having one of the cleanest environments on Earth. That’s why we encourage green and sustainable film-making. But responsible film-making doesn’t end with the environment. Locals, their communities and their cultures should be portrayed accurately and honestly. This is especially true in the case of the Sámi people. The Sámi are Europe’s only indigenous people, and they are constitutionally protected in Finland. The Sámi people live not only in Finland, but also in Norway, Russia and Sweden. The International Sámi Film Institute operates in these regions, and we co-operate with them on productions’ Sámi content when needed.

Whether it is on screen or in person, more people than ever before are discovering this beautiful corner of the world. Let’s ensure that they will continue to do so for countless generations to come.

Anna Niemelä
Film commissioner at the Finnish Lapland Film Commission
16.01.2019