FINLAND LURES HOLLYWOOD

Tourists pose with movie character impersonators in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Movie productions bring money and work to the filming locations. Therefore many states and countries offer incentives for film productions to come and shoot their movies in their turf. So far Finland has remained passive in the matter. But  after the formation of local film commissions a few years ago, plans are being hatched on how to lure Hollywood to make movies in Finland.

Warren Beatty directed and starred in the 1981 movie Reds. Though the film was about the Russian revolution, it was largely shot in Finland.

During the cold war Finland had the dubious honor of playing the Soviet Union in several Hollywood pictures. The Kremlin Letter, Telefon, Reds and Gorky Park were all shot in and around Helsinki. It was a perfect match – Hollywood needed a location that looked like Russia. And since filming in the actual Soviet Union was impossible at the time, Finland, namely Helsinki, filled the void. With its similar architecture, all that was needed were a couple of red banners, a Lenin’s picture, plus a few Russian signs and voilà – you were in Moscow!

Helsinki’s Uspenski Cathedral was used for its Russian style in the 1970 thriller The Kremlin Letter.

This, of course, is no longer the case. Today’s filmmakers can simply go to real Moscow – or any other part of Russia for that matter. That has left Finland cold. International movie shoots rarely film anything but nature documentaries there. And why would anyone want to film there? For its natural beauty? A little doubtful in the case of a feature film – there’s a lot of equally spectacular nature to be found in the United States and Canada – for a lesser price. However, Finland does have some historic sights, such as castles, churches, other old building and European streetscapes totally lacking in North America.

Finland offers splendid nature to enhance the look of a movie. Pictured: Repovesi National Park in Eastern Finland.

Hollywood productions are being lured by various countries with tax exemptions, free shooting permits and tax-free purchases. Hollywood favors low cost and cheap labor countries, such as Bulgaria, Romania and to the lesser extend –  the Czech Republic. However, the much more expensive New Zealand has also managed to enchant Hollywood.  The Lord of the Rings movies, King Kong and the Russell Crowe blockbuster Master and Commander: At World’s End, were all shot there. This summer the Hobbit, the Emperor and the Evil Dead were filmed in New Zealand.

Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most famous tourist attractions.

New Zealand Film Commission Director Michael Brook says that under certain conditions they reimburse film producers 15 percent of the money spent there. The island’s other attractions  include natural landscapes and opposite seasons compared to the northern hemisphere. So, summer scenes can be filmed there in January. Also, Canada’s Vancouver – a city about the size of Helsinki – has established itself as a Hollywood staple. The city can accommodate 40 big film productions simultaneously. Vancouver will pardon a third of the taxes, if the film crew  uses mostly local talent. Also 40 U.S. states offer incentives. For example, Louisiana and New York give a 30 per cent tax relief to movie productions that shoot there.

Finnish film commissioners Päivi Söderström and Teija Raninen at the Scandinavian Locations event in Los Angeles.

Finland and the other Nordic film commissions have come together under the banner “Scandinavian Locations”. Finnish film commissioners Teija Raninen and Päivi Söderström recently visited Los Angeles in this capacity with their Scandinavian colleagues to market Finnish locations to Hollywood producers. There are four regional film commissions in Finland. Oddly enough, Helsinki does not have one. So any inquiries from Hollywood or other international film producers are directed to the local production companies or the city tourism office.

Consul general of Finland, Kirsti Westphalen and film commissioner Päivi Söderström at the Scandinavian Locations event at Hotel Figueroa, downtown LA.

The Finnish film commissioners advertised Finland in Hollywood as a naturally beautiful country with many industry professionals ready to be hired and eager background actors willing to work for a meal. Other advantages of shooting  in Finland include flexibility and security.

Turku Castle was seen in the 1967 Ken Russell spy thriller Billion Dollar Brain, starring Michael Caine.

Finland cannot boast about low prices or incentives, though. A free three day search for shooting locations hardly counts as a tempting incentive. Finnish film officials have not even considered tax relief. Instead, the film commissioners have proposed a quirky solution: The producers could apply part of  the money back that they used in Finland. The reimbursement would be subject to a scoring system. Criteria would include artistic content, local employment, whether the movie has a Finnish co-producer and whether Finland will retain any intellectual property rights. A jury would then assess each production separately.

Päivi Söderström – a film commissioner from Finland travels once a year to Hollywood to tell film producers about the benefits of shooting in Finland.

Such a system, however, would be highly complicated and impractical to a film producer trying to make his budget. How is he or she to know the outcome of that assessment in advance and be able to accurately calculate the real costs of shooting  in Finland? A simple tax credit would be far better. It could include some conditions – such as having to use a certain number of local talent and crew, just like in Canada.

The 2011 action movie Hanna featured breathtaking Finnish winter sceneries. the movie was partially shot in Kuusamo, North Eastern Finland.

It makes a lot of financial sense to try to get movie productions to come and shoot in Finland. Economic benefits can be sizable – especially in rural areas struggling with recession. Motion Picture Association of America – a lobbying arm for the movie industry – recently published a study on the financial impact of movie shoots. According to the study, film productions and state incentives are a boost to the local film professionals and other industries, such as hotels, restaurants and caterers. Producers go to the cheapest possible locations that meet their artistic and other needs. For example, the TV series Body of Proof moved production from Rhode Island to Los Angeles, because the show got better tax benefits in LA. And this despite the fact that the story is set in Philadelphia!

Costume designer Susanna Puisto works on the set of Body of Proof at Disney Studios in Burbank .The show recently relocated to Los Angeles because of more favorable tax benefits.

In late winter of 2010, an American action movie Hanna shot for five days in Kuusamo. The production left a million dollars to the area suffering from high unemployment. Other economic opportunities film productions provide include product placement, geocaching and film tourism.

The 1965 musical the Sound of Music was shot on location in Austria.

The Sound of Music premiered back in 1965. The musical was shot in the beautiful Austrian locations. Even today, the film still draws tourists to Austria. Therefore, it is important for Finnish officials and politicians to come together and come up with a comprehensive scheme that includes heavy tax advantages to lure Hollywood movies to shoot in Finland. Movie shoots bring money, work, fame and visibility to the shooting locations. They boost tourism and interest in the country and benefit the local economy.

Lake Pielinen in the Koli National Park, Eastern Finland

VICTORY – CONSULATE STAYS IN LA!

Reporter, pictures: Tomi Hinkkanen &  Jonny Kahleyn

Last October the Foreign Ministry of Finland announced plans to shut down the Consulate General of  Finland in Los Angeles and move its operations to Silicon Valley.

Consul General Kirsti Westphalen at her Bel Air residence during an independence ball.

Finntimes mounted a vigorous campaign to keep the consulate in L.A. where we feel it rightfully belongs. Our readers really stepped up to support this cause. In a couple of months, 641 of you signed our on-line petition. An additional 142 signed the petition at the Scandinavian Film Festival in Beverly Hills. That’s 783 signatures in total. They were delivered to the deciders in Finland, including the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Film director Renny Harlin signing the Finntimes petition to save the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles at the Scandinavian Film Festival in Beverly Hills.

Now our efforts have yielded results. The Foreign Ministry has revised their plans and made the absolutely right decision to keep the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles after all. We have won!

Consul General of Finland in Los Angeles Kirsti Westphalen

Consul General of Finland in Los Angeles, Kirsti Westphalen, has worked tirelessly to secure this monumental decision. She spoke exclusively to Finntimes right before the decision was made public.

What was decided about the future of the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles?

“Well, I’m happy to tell you that the Consulate General of Finland will continue its operations in Los Angeles, but with a reduced budget. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as other actors in Finland continue to be under tremendous economic pressures. The Ministry reviewed the issue in light of the cost benefit that might have been accrued from moving our Consulate General to the joint premises that we have in Silicon Valley. But as it turned out, the savings were not as substantial as were previously thought. The prices in Silicon Valley have turned out to be exorbitant. This was one of the factors. We will be able to achieve savings and at the same time retain and keep the core functions of the Consulate General – servicing the Finns, who are entitled to consular services.”

Between 7,000 and 9,500 Finns  live in the 13 western states that the consulate serves. Many of them reside in SoCal.

L.A. Finns celebrating Juhannus – midsummer – at the Finnish club in North Hollywood.

What will be cut from the budget?

“The major savings will come from our rent costs. Currently the Consulate General occupies an office in Century City. We will be looking at cheaper alternatives, which will not be too far from the current location. We are aiming to relocate in the 405-corridor in West L.A.. Substantial savings can be achieved this way. We also have to cut from our operating expenditure, but in such a way that we still hope to be able to retain our core functions to be of service to Finnish citizens and public diplomacy work on education and clean, sustainable solutions, including the support to creative Finns in Los Angeles.”

Kristian Jokinen is the clean tech expert at the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles.

So, you will not cut any personnel?

“We will be able to maintain the personnel that we have at the moment. We are under staffed as it is and people are working very hard. We are eight persons altogether.”

One major event had to be cut from the Consulate General’s social calendar, though:

“Already this year we will be very careful with our budget. Thus, this year we will not be holding the traditional Independence Day Party at the residence. We want to put our budget into activities that directly contribute to the success of Finland here in the U.S.. I hope that in the years to come, when the budgetary situation will be better, we will be able to get together to celebrate the independence of Finland with a party at the residence. This year, however, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate independence in the Bay Area, here in Los Angeles and in San Diego, where local Finns are planning independence day celebrations.”

Who made this decision?

“All these very painful decisions were reviewed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with very highest of our decision makers, including the President of the Republic.”

Even though Los Angeles was saved, some other representations have to be shut down.

“Consulate General of Hamburg, Germany and Consulate in Sydney, Australia will be closed during 2013 and our mission at the Organization of  Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE, will be merged with the Finnish Embassy in Vienna. So, this is an ongoing process. These are in addition to closures that have been announced already earlier.”

Finntimes publisher Tomi Hinkkanen promoting the petition to save the Consulate General of Finland in L.A. at the Scandinavian Film Festival in Beverly Hills.

Do you think that the petition on Finntimes played any role in saving the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles?

“I am sure it played a very important role. It was duly noted that the support of the Finnish community on the U.S. West Coast was strongly in favor of maintaining activities of the Consulate General of Los Angeles. It had an important role, as the decision was being reviewed. That in the addition to the fact that the government decided earlier on this year in the so-called “Team Finland Report”, where we are trying to reinforce the activities of Finnish missions abroad, that one must have a strong Finnish presence here in the  U.S.  West Coast.”

Kirsti Westphalen wants to personally thank our readers.

“My personal thanks goes to you, your readers, Finntimes and your article and petition on retaining  the consulate here in Los Angeles.”

Virpi Sidler of FACC and Kirsti Westphalen at the Finnish Community Roundtable event at the Consul General’s residence in Bel Air.

And Finntimes and myself want to thank Consul General Kirsti Westphalen for playing a key role in successfully defending the Consulate General of  Finland in Los Angeles. As the icing on today’s victory cake, Ms. Westphalen will stay on an extra year in L.A., until the Summer of 2013. And a million thanks to all you readers, who signed our petition and made this happy outcome possible.

Consul General Kirsti Westphalen by Jonny Kahleyn

Thank you, Consul General Kirsti Westphalen for saving our consulate!

Links: 

SAVE THE CONSULATE GENERAL OF LOS ANGELES

CONSULATE GENERAL OF FINLAND IN LOS ANGELES

A STAR-STUDDED FINNISH HUB

Reporter, pictures: Tomi Hinkkanen

Consul general Kirsti Westphalen hosting the Finnish Hub on the tennis court of the consul general's residence in Bel Air.

The newly created forum for the LA Finns, the Finnish Hub, was held Tuesday night at the Consul General Kirsti Westphalen’s residence in Bel Air. 130 guests gathered on the tennis court, where Westphalen outlined the future of the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles. The consulate has been under a threat of closing down due to financial reasons. Finntimes has been active in gathering signatures for the consulate to remain open right here in LA, where it rightfully belongs. We thank each and every person who kindly signed our petition. Westphalen revealed, that the decision about the consulate will be made within days in Helsinki. We will bring you the latest news as soon as they become available. Westphalen would like to create a Creative House of Finland, where artists, scientists, business people and everybody would be welcome under the same roof. It would also serve as an address for Finnish start-ups that require a local presence. Since in the current economic environment funds are scarce, the consulate puts its emphasis on green technologies and education.

Kirsti Westphalen said that the faith of the Finnish Consulate general in LA will be decided within days.

Among the audience, there were executives from Tekes – a Finnish Technology Agency, as well as Aalto University. Also the music world was well represented due to the Musexpo convention that is going on in Hollywood. Merja Laaksonen from Tekes told that they have a budget of 600 million euros that helps Finnish high tech businesses. There is also a 70 million euro creative fund for such endeavors. Laura Laaksonen from Aalto University was doing her dissertation on the internationalization of Finnish heavy metal bands. Local attorney and Finntimes blogger Ava Anttila spoke about the Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce, of which she is a member and invited new  businesses and individuals to join in. Sami Häikiö was here from Finland. He works for Music Export Finland, an organization dedicated to advancing Finnish music exports around the world. He told the organization has achieved great results, especially in Japan, where Finnish heavy metal is popular.

Cheers to Finland!

After the official speeches, there was an open mike for the audience members. Actress, singer and songwriter Irina Björklund wanted to see, if anything could be done to the facilitate Finnish and other international performers’ entry to the U.S. She said oftentimes performers have to wait for months to get a work visa to perform in the United States. A recent example comes from FinnFest, that was held last August in San Diego. The Finnish musicians had tough time in getting into the country and were questioned by the U.S.  immigration officials, who had asked,  couldn’t an American performer do the job instead. Westphalen replied that the Finnish government has tried to influence the powers to be. Of course it is up to the American officials to adjust their procedures and practices.

Irina Björklund with guitarist Steven McCormick and cameraman Janne Tamminen

There were also high flying ideas of creating an inn for Finns wanting to visit LA, complete with a restaurant and all. The reality of it is that if anything else, budgets are being tightened and as I mentioned before, the very existence of the consulate is in jeopardy. The government can’t do everything, Westphalen said with a smile . Maria Kizirian had a more realistic idea: Why not create an email list of volunteers, who would be willing to put up guests visiting from Finland in their own  homes. And she puts her money where her mouth is. Maria and her husband Paul Kizirian are currently hosting ex-Miss Finland, the lovely Pia Pakarinen in their home, as Pia is busily crafting a career for herself in modeling.

Maria Kizirian, in the middle, suggested an email list of volunteers who want to house Finns visiting Los Angeles.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half. It was truly the most comprehensive information package and a brainstorming session in recent memory held by the local Finns and their friends.

Fitness guru Pauliina Talus

After the meeting,  it was party time. There were many celebrities among the guests. Fitness guru Pauliina Talus had finished her Talus Integrated Training System – a workout program that fits the needs of any age or ability.  The new Lutheran pastor Jarmo Tarkki was there. He lives in Solvang, California and represents a large area encompassing Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and even Mexico City. The next LA area service will be held at St. Paul’s church in Santa Monica on May 20th. Pastor Tarkki was happy about the Easter service’s attendance – 85 people.

Finnish celebrity Sauli Koskinen, right, partied with his friends.

Finnish Big Brother winner from five years ago and singer Adam Lambert’s boyfriend Sauli Koskinen was partying with his friends. Sauli was in great spirits and tanned as ever. I asked him, if it was a real or spray tan. Sauli then took off one of his many rings, revealing a white spot on his skin underneath. Sauli said he takes every opportunity to tan on his rooftop in the couple’s home in Hollywood Hills.

sauli_koskinen_finntimes_com by Tomi Hinkkanen for Finntimes

Sauli Koskinen was tanned as ever and in great spirits.

Early on I spotted a familiar looking blond lady in the audience, then realizing it is Patrick Swayze’s widow Lisa Niemi. She came to the festivities with her mother-in-law Mary.

Patrick Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi attended the Finnish Hub.

Lisa’s grandparents came to the U.S. from Finland. She said her father’s family was from northern Finland and mother’s family from Karelia. Lisa was in a good mood as well. Her husband Patrick died two and a half years ago of pancreatic cancer. Niemi wrote a book called “Worth Fighting For”, detailing her husband’s battle against cancer. It made it to the New York Times list of bestsellers. She is also a spokesperson for Pancreatic cancer Action Network and has her own website lisaniemiswayze.com

Lisa_Niemi_finntimes_com

Lisa Niemi wrote a book "Worth Fighting For" about her husband's struggle with cancer

“Patrick lost his battle, but the fight against pancreatic cancer goes on,” Lisa Niemi declared.

BLUE AND WHITE – LA CELEBRATED THE FINNISH INDEPENDENCE + PHOTO GALLERY


STORY: INDEPENDENCE DAY GALA
REPORTER: TOMI HINKKANEN – LOS ANGELES
PHOTOS: JONNY KAHLEYN

It was a memorable evening at the Bel Air residence of the Finnish Consul General of Los Angeles. Under an enormous tent erected on the tennis court, some 500 party revelers celebrated the 94th anniversary of Finnish independence decked out to max.

Finnish Independence Celebration 2011 - Los Angeles

Among party guests were war veterans, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, key figures from various Finnish associations and even Hollywood celebrities.
Consul General Kirsti Westphalen has represented Finland in LA with flying colors. In her speech, she gave her guests a glimpse of the economic situation in Europe.

“We need more Europe, not less”, She remarked about the current crisis with the Euro. In Southern California, Westphalen emphasized education as a major effort. Recently 300 American educators attended a summit held in San Diego – a record number.

Finnish Independence Celebration 2011 - Los Angeles

James Koenig, who organizes the Scandinavian Film festival every January, did an amazing job singing the Finnish national anthem both in Finnish and Swedish, as well as belting out the Star Spangled banner in his native English. Reine Rimòn and Her Hot Papas entertained the crowd with New Orleans style Dixieland music.

Finnish Independence Celebration 2011 - Los Angeles

The Finnish Independence Gala attracted Finns and friends of Finns of many ages and from all walks of life as well as some Hollywood luminaries. Former magician Iiro Seppänen has transitioned into a new career as a Hollywood producer. He leads the Pan Pacific Entertainment – a company that focuses on Sino-American co-productions. Costume designer Susanna Puisto has been busy as always. For the last six months she has been designing costumes for the procedural TV show Body of Proof, starring Dana Delaney. Sirpa Selanne , the wife of Teemu, was celebrating without her husband who was busy playing hockey. The couple will go to Winnipeg to watch a game between Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets. The Selännes will spend Christmas in California. Ex-Miss Finland Pia Pakarinen was shining prettier than ever in a blue mini-dress. She is staying with Maria and Paul Kizirianin while studying acting at the Larry Moss Studio in Santa Monica. Pia intends to stay in LA until mid-January. Another student spotted from the crowd was fashion designer Paola Suhonen. The lovely Paola was wearing a beautiful lace dress. Pitsimekkoon Paola is studying cinematography at the American Film Institute. Makeup artist Riku Campo has been busy applying make-up to CSI Miami’s Cote De Tablo, and the International movie star couple Irina Bjorklund and Peter Franzen will be celebrating a Finnish Christmas in Los Angeles with their son and a live Santa Claus. Other luminaries included the very talented and handsomely dressed chef  Stefan Richter, the majestic UCLA basketball player Erica Tukiainen,  the ever so beautiful actress Anna Easteden and many others.

The Finnish flag was held high in the City of Angels in this beautiful and so very meaningful celebration to all of us. Thank you Consul General Kirsti Westphalen and everyone at the Consulate-General of Finland in Los Angeles for organizing such a memorable evening.

Finnish Independence Ball Los Angeles
Finnish Independence Celebration  – Los Angeles


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THE LATEBIRDS GOT A LITTLE HELP FROM HOLLYWOOD

STORY: THE LATEBIRDS

REPORTER: TOMI HINKKANEN – LOS ANGELES

PHOTOS BY JONNY KAHLEYN

The Latebirds, a Helsinki-based rock band, is still unknown to many US readers. However, the band has been together for 11 years already and has cut two records in their native Finland. They are now ready to conquer the United States with their North American debut album ‘Last of the Good Ol’ Days’.

The title says it all. The Latebirds is a truly retro 1970’s rock band – with an added twist of country and western and punk. The men behind the magic are: Markus Nordenstreng, who sings and composes most tunes; Janne Haavisto plays percussion; Mikko Mäkelä does bass and vocals; Jussi Jaakonaho is the lead guitarist and last, but not least, Matti Pitsinki, a master with his guitar who also tickles the ivory, aka the keyboards.

Markus Nordenstreng by Jonny Kahleyn

Markus Nordenstreng

The five man band performed recently at the elegant Bel Air residence of Finnish consul general Kirsti Westphalen. The stop at Los Angeles concluded a two week tour of the U.S. It encompassed club dates in the big East Coast cities New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. The band then headed to the Windy City (Chicago that is), and finally Los Angeles where the boys played at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, the world’s largest independent record store. The tour later ended in San Francisco. The reason for the big tour was to publicize their first record made in America “Last of the Good Ol’ Days”. The launch was made possible by generous grant from the Finnish government.

THE-LATEBIRDS-BY-JONNY-KAHLEYN - Jussi Jaakonaho and Mikko Mäkelä
Jussi Jaakonaho and Mikko Mäkelä

“It is great that the Finnish Ministry of Education and Ministry of Employment and the Economy support such activities. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to come here. Our tour budget was 15,000 Euros. The government aid covered about half of that”, lead singer and songwriter Markus Nordenstreng acknowledges. This is the Latebirds’ third album and by far the most difficult to get out.

“The Album was recorded here in the Santa Clarita already in the spring of 2007. We had a great producer, Jim Scott, who has worked with all the greats. But the release date was delayed by the record company. And, while waiting, we went to Woodstock to record a bonus EP (a short, five-song CD that accompanies the main CD) that guest stars Kris Kristofferson”, Nordenstreng recounts. Kristofferson got interested in the Finnish band after hearing their cover version of his hit song ‘In the News’.

Markus Nordenstreng and Finnish Consul General Kirsti Westphalen

“I sent it to Kris. He liked our version so much that offered to sing on our album. Of course we couldn’t afford to hire Kris Kristofferson. We did not pay him a penny. He appeared completely free”, Markus says with a smile. Aside from singing, Kris is heard on the album in an unusual role – the voice of God.

“Kris has inspired our music, as have other rock and punk bands, as well as Finnish bands, like the Agents.”

The celebrity encounters don’t end there.

“We had a chance encounter with Bruce Springsteen in a Boston bar. I had previously interviewed him as a journalist and he remembered me. The Boss promised to attend one of our gigs in the future”, Markus says. At this point in the interview, he is called on the makeshift stage at the consular residence to perform. The music of the Latebirds is very pleasant and familiar indeed. At points one can hear influences of country and western. I noticed many guests tapping their feet; some with their head swinging in unison with the music, even though the crowd was a bit longer in the tooth than the band’s usual mid-twenty to thirty- something audience.

lead singer/songwriter Markus Nordenstreng

After the show, I had a chance to get reacquainted with Matti Pitsinki. Our first meeting took place in the Silicon Valley some ten years earlier when Matti playing for another band, “Laika and the Cosmonauts”. It was purely an instrumental, sixties’ style guitar band that for some strange reason attracted computer nerds.

“We became aware of that. I do not mind it, it’s nice that people like your music and we cannot choose our audiences. It was surprising, because we didn’t really have any hobbies or apparent connection to the IT-world”, Matti chuckles. He has been with the Latebirds since 2005. During the first 3 years, Matti divided his time between the two bands since “Laika” was still in operation. However that band dissolved in 2008 by mutual agreement among its members.

The Latebirds seems to attract celebs like moths to a flame.

“By no means were we after celebrities. However, you inevitably meet famous people in America. Friends of stars who attend our concerts report to them that it was a good experience worth going to. Then the stars eventually show up”, Matti explains. In addition to Kris Kristofferson, another Hollywood luminary was drawn to The Latebirds’ music.


“We were recording at Pliers, a recording studio in Santa Clarita. It is a nicely equipped big two-story warehouse. Producer Jim Scott knows how to create a great atmosphere and he also knows how to kick ass. One day, a casually dressed Minnie Driver came to the studio. She was doing her own album. Jim and Minnie were old friends and Jim had promised to give her some advice. While there, she saw us perform and stayed on to hear more.”

Markus Nordenstreng asked Minnie if she would do a number.

“Minnie agreed immediately. She performs the song ‘Underwater’. This is a mid-tempo tune that has underwater kinds of tones in it. Minnie did a beautiful job; she has a very good voice”, Matti says with praise. It turns out that the actress also has a sense of humor.

The Latebirds' newest CD: 'Last of the Good Ol' Days'

“As we were listening to the rough mix of the song, everybody else was sitting, listening and looking serious while Minnie was on the floor on her belly, making swimming movements”, Matti says with a laugh.

The Ladebirds’ first American tour was such a smashing success that the band members plan a return engagement on the new continent sometime before Christmas.

  The Latebirds – ‘Summer Becomes Fall’ video

Website: www.latebirds.com

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