Jalmari Helander

Growing up in Finland, Jalmari Helander always knew he wanted to make movies. While his friends and family focused on more practical pursuits, Helander nurtured his creative side. He had trouble translating his ideas into success in the classroom, and though he applied to film school, he was ultimately rejected. Instead, Helander completed vocational training in editing, a factor that he would later consider an asset in his journey toward becoming a free thinking, independently-minded artist. In 1999, Helander stepped behind the camera for the first time, directing his brother-in-law Jorma Tommila in the 10-minute action short "Maximillian Tarzan" (1999). Similar projects would follow with "Iceman" (1999) and "Ukkonen" (2001), but it was when Helander directed the fantasy-themed short "Rare Exports Inc." (2003) that he knew he'd struck upon something special. The script was eventually developed into a full length feature film, "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" (2010). The international attention that the project brought Helander meant big opportunities, though many doubted that he could parlay the success into a project of the scale that he was imagining: a big-budget adventure film set in Finland, filmed for the English-speaking market. It was a goal no Finnish filmmaker had yet accomplished, but Helander went ahead and developed the script. The story combined "Air Force One" (1997) with a traditional Finnish coming-of-age tale, as the United States President crash lands in the mountains of Finland, with his only hope of survival resting in the hands of a 13 year-old boy who's been sent out alone into the forest to complete his first hunt and become a man in the eyes of his village. The script soon attracted star Samuel L. Jackson to the role of the president, and Helander secured the highest film budget in Finnish history, 8.5 million Euros. "Big Game" was released in 2014, and proved a major success across Europe.