Pliis is a Finnish production company with an international background. Based right here in Turku, the husband-and-wife team Slade and Meri Takala-Lamey produce high-quality, professional projects for clients around the world. Pliis offers services incorporating filmed content, animation, voiceover work and live-streaming, in addition to developing additional marketing content. With so much expertise, it’s hard to believe that this all happens from a basement-turned-home editing studio in Turku.
—I was an editor-turned-camera-operator working in London for 13 years before deciding to set up Pliis. We are a core team of two but with a large range of crew that we work with for each job. We work internationally, so we have a network of freelancers and professionals all around the world to produce some of our content, Slade Takala-Lamey explains.
Adapting to the new normal
After a successful first year establishing themselves in Finland, at the start of 2020 Pliis were ready to hit the ground running and continue growing their business. Meetings were booked and plans were made with a number of prospective clients. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic had other ideas.
—At the beginning of COVID, we realised that everything had been turned on its head and we were just devastated. We lost a lot of our corporate work, and all of our events work had just completely been wiped off the booking sheet. However, rather than twiddling my thumbs, I made some phone calls, Slade recalls.
It soon became apparent that the new situation wasn’t going away any time soon. With face to face meetings and external shooting locations now unavailable, Pliis suddenly had to reinvent their business model to remain competitive in the new normal of remote working and social distancing. They decided to reach out to potential clients directly, reminding them that
—Corporate messaging and advertising doesn’t stop just because no one can go to work anymore. So we made a pitch animation, in both English and Finnish, explaining to people that we can still get your message out, without having to come to your office.
A local solution to a global problem
With some time on their hands, an unexpected collaboration emerged with V.R. Studios, leading to the creation of V.R. Sonic Temple – a weekly live-streamed gig showcasing local bands and artists. This foray into the Turku rock scene built upon Pliis’ previous relationship with Turku Rock Academy, and helps to explain why there are so many amateur bands here with such professional-looking music videos.
Investing so much time in a new skill can be a risk, but for Pliis it certainly paid off. Not only is the company now able to boast professional live-streaming expertise, but word soon got round in Turku about what they could offer.
—Off the back of the Turku Rock Academy music videos, we’ve gone on to make videos for bands with labels and signed artists. It’s a small world here in Turku and whilst I think it’s a blessing that everyone already knows each other, it means that you need to be consistent because things travel very quickly – your successes as well as your failures.
After making the most of a somewhat turbulent 2020, Pliis is looking to the future in Turku, with aims to embed themselves further in the local film production industry as well as to develop a network of local professionals to collaborate with.
—There’s quite a lot going on in Finland and some very interesting work. I’ve called a lot of Finnish production companies this year, just to meet people and start building a network. Because it’s not all about competing – if film is going well in Turku, then that’s good for all of us.
A new pace of life
Slade Takala-Lamey’s initial impressions of Turku were night-and-day to what he thinks now. There is no getting around the fact that Turku is considerably less metropolitan than London, and that did require certain adjustments:
—I think when I moved I felt a bit big for my boots and a bit ‘London’, and started to feel that Turku was a bit quaint, and that’s a poisonous way to think about anywhere. There’s certainly nothing provincial about the networks here, and the talent, quality and skill of the people I’m working with.
It really was proactive engagement with the local community of like-minded people that helped dispel the notion of Turku as a quaint little town. Slade recalls that whenever he spotted anyone on the street filming something, he’d go up to them and have a chat. Community events, like the Doc Lounge nights, gathered many Turku-based film professionals and enthusiasts into the same bar, and connections proliferated. Pliis has also found the public entities helping film makers in the Turku area extremely helpful:
—One of the first places you go as a film maker is the West Finland Film Commission, as they offer free assistance, including providing actors, extras and location assistants. Their entire remit is making it easier to make films in Finland, and they don’t ask for anything in return, which is absolutely fantastic.
In addition to the professional networks, Slade is quick to remind that the more familiar selling points of life in Finland ring true for him and his family as well: the happiest country, the freshest air, the best education:
—Turku is a really interesting place to be, and just because it’s got nicer, fresher air and it’s not a metropolis… that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. And it’s an amazing place to raise a kid! I sing the praises of this country, and this city, until the cows come home, because I’m very, very happy with the move.
From the local perspective, we’re very happy with the move too! We can’t wait to see what Pliis does next.
Get to know more Turku-based international talents and their stories at https://careerinsouthwestfinland.fi/latest/stories/