18 September 2020

North Star Film Alliance opens office in Japan

North Star Film Alliance (NSFA) has opened an office in Japan, with production house AX-ON taking on the representational duties in the country. Hannes Aava, the head of press and communication at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, has been selected as the project’s communication manager. NSFA, which opened an office in Los Angeles as well earlier this year, is an innovative promotional joint venture between neighbouring countries Estonia, Finland and Latvia aimed at promoting international filmmaking in the Baltic region. 

 AX-ON will be representing NSFA during the autumn period for press and industry inquiries as well as in B2B meetings. It will also be hosting informational presentations at small-scale location industry events to communicate the production possibilities, locations, and various incentives the three countries offer. Participation at larger events will be limited due to restrictions and issues related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

 Recent years have shown a growing mutual interest between the Japanese film industry and those of NSFA countries. One example is the Latvian-Japanese co-production Magic Kimono (2017), currently streaming on Netflix, which was helmed by Latvian director Maris Martinsons and features a primarily Japanese cast. Furthermore, Japanese director Kôjirô Hashimoto, enticed by the snow, the aurora borealis and the sizeable cash rebate to shoot his film Snow Flower (2019) in Finland.

About AX-ON Inc.
AX-ON, based in Tokyo, is one of Japan’s largest and most diversified television production houses. A member of the Nippon TV Group, the company engages in most types of content production. Its International Media Services (IMS) branch provides international broadcasting and production services geared mainly towards foreign broadcasters and studios operating in Japan.

About the North Star Film Alliance
Nordic/Baltic states are among the most digitally advanced in the world and have garnered a reputation for transparency and nimble bureaucracy. Across the region digital services and telecommunications systems are among the fastest and most reliable in the world. Additionally, many world-renowned drone pilots call this region home.

Latvia boasts stunning 311-mile coastline a studio complex with three sound stages and a 150-hectare outdoor studio Cinevilla with a steam-train and an operating streetcar for early 20th- century shoots. The country’s incentives offer a cash rebate of up to 40-50% for feature films and documentaries if combined with the rebate of the capital city Riga offers. Recent international projects shot here include the South Korean historical musical Hero by director Yoon Je-Kyun.

The tech-savvy Baltic nation of Estonia offers a cash rebate of up to 30% for the production of feature films, premium content TV series, animation and documentaries. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet shot in various locations in and around the capital city of Tallinn and received a 5-million-euro boost from the country’s cash rebate scheme.

Finland provides 25% cash rebates to eligible feature films, documentaries, TV series, and animation. Content filmed elsewhere but engaging in post-production in Finland are also eligible to collect a rebate for costs incurred in-country. There are six studios, most with several sound stages to choose from. Among the latest projects to have filmed in Finland using the incentives are the Bollywood blockbuster War (2019) by Siddharth Anand and The Last Ones—the latest film by the Estonian director Veiko Õunpuu (The Passion of St Tony), winner of the Orrizonti competition of Venice IFF. 

The region offers prime location settings including forests of several different kinds, unspoiled beaches, unique boglands and the arctic region with its guaranteed snow. In terms of architecture, the influence of Russian and Nordic cultures are reflected in medieval towns, Tsarist cathedrals, and Soviet-era sites. A variety of dedicated film studios and sound stage facilities are also available. To top it all, the region is also home to a large number of highly educated and skilled English-speaking professionals.

The Estonian Film Institute partnered with the City of Helsinki and Riga City Council are the organizations behind NSFA and the project is being supported by EU Interreg Central Baltic program.