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M.A. film The Last Day impresses with set design

M.A. film The Last Day impresses with set design

Producer Julia Elomäki rushes into Angel Films studio on a Wednesday evening, carrying grocery bags. Food is certainly needed, as the group has been working intensely for weeks preparing the set, testing lights and finally, making sure that every detail is taken care of. Elomäki’s crew is about to start shooting an M.A. (Master of Arts) film, thus there are some long days ahead for them. Elomäki started ideating the short film production about a year ago together with director Lauri-Matti Parppei, who is also to be credited for writing the script. The rest of the crew consists of the duo’s fellow M.A. students at Aalto University, sound designer Vili Laitinen, set designer Lena Bennedsen and costume designer Aino Simola. Camera work is done by Samuli Ahonen and the film is edited by Niina Vornanen.

Costumes take the narrative further

Julia Elomäki describes the production a “relationship drama musical”, where a woman and a man live through the last day of their relationship. Even though costume design student Aino Simola joined the project only a month before they started filming, the costumes have an important role in the movie. Simola explains that a robe has a very symbolic meaning in the narrative, representing what is left in the broken relationship. “The characters change quite many times, thus I made multiple costumes for both actors. Most of the outfits are made from existing items of clothing, however some required a lot of work at the costume design studio at Otakaari 7. Sometimes making a costume from the beginning is quicker than redesigning an old one. This has been a nice project though”, Simola discusses the process.

Set design – a complex process

In addition to the costume studio, the set construction workshop at Aalto Studios was also a crucial space in preparation of the production. The set is quite unusual for a student production, because it is so large. “We wanted the set to be a small apartment, and make is as real-looking as we could in a studio environment. We have to shoot at Angel Films, because of the size of the set – Aalto Studios’ space in Roihupelto wasn’t quite large enough to hold a set size of an apartment, especially having additional lights outside the apartment structures.” Elomäki explains. Production design student Lena Bennedsen says that there were plenty of things to consider when designing the set; including the floor plan, textures and colors. After many talks with a cinematographer, she had come up with a plan that would allow many different camera angles.

Built in Otaniemi, assembled at the studio

The large walls were built at Otakaari 7, but the components were assembled at the studio, because otherwise they would not have fit in the doors. “Obviously it is good for a production design student to know how to build sets, but it was really nice to have the professionals at Aalto Studios to do the majority of the work. I just expressed my wishes, gave instructions and coordinated with the workshop staff and they did a great job”, Bennedsen rejoices. Even though most of the props were new, some were borrowed from Yle and some were bought from a recycling center. Producer Elomäki finds it important that props and the set will be reused in the future. “There’s so much effort, time and money put into building this set, it would be a shame if it wasn’t used in other productions. I’m excited to start shooting after preparing everything for months”, Elomäki concludes.