New tools, fresh confidence and a master’s degree – the story of Metsäjätti film’s screenwriter

By methodically breaking down your stories and analyzing fellow students’ work you learn to rethink your own character as a storyteller. TAMK Alumnus, Timo Turunen, discusses his screenwriting studies and the excitement of his first feature film being released.

Nowadays, screenwriting is acknowledged as an art in itself, and simultaneously there are numerous screenwriters having a career in the field without a relevant degree. This means great competition in the business. A master’s degree in screenwriting from Tampere University of Applied Sciences gives a clear advantage.

Besides the credibility from the degree certificate, you get a sense of confidence in your work, and that is just as important. Both the lecturers and students enrich the experience and knowledge offered by this degree programme. You get to dive deep into the art of screenwriting, and it can be a life changing opportunity.

TAMK alumnus, Timo Turunen, joined us for an interview sharing his insights on the master’s degree and his experiences seeing his first feature film script being produced and released earlier this year.

Timo Turunen (Photo: Anu Turunen)
Timo Turunen (Photo: Anu Turunen)

 “An opportunity you don’t want to miss”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in direction and working in the media industry for 20 years, Timo Turunen felt that a master’s degree in screenwriting is a fitting next step. Having worked on several scripts already, it had become clear that it is art he wants to focus on.

TAMK Master’s Degree Programme in Screenwriting was the perfect setting for Turunen to check whether he had the skills and the knowledge in order to perform his best in future endeavors. Indeed, during the studies there were numerous occasions where his skills were put to the test – and that gave Turunen and his student colleagues a chance to grow.

Courses like Arto Koskinen’s “Film Analysis” offered a different approach to screenwriting tools. By methodically breaking down the stories and analyzing other people’s work the students learned to rethink their own character as a storyteller. Visiting lecturers and international mentors, such as Jukka Vieno, John Bernstein and Colin Muir with his course on TV-series, enriched the studying experience and built a strong supporting network for the students.

“Jukka Vieno organized his drills while we were working on our feature screenplay master’s theses. We got immersed in polishing the idea and structuring the story. This whole process has helped me immensely in my endeavors ever since. I now know how to approach different ideas,” says Turunen.

Timo Turunen (right) in the film Metsäjätti. (Photo: Marek Sabogal/ Solar Films)

 “I have found my place”

Recently, Timo Turunen saw his first complete film script, Metsäjätti, being produced for theatres.

“When we started the casting procedures and I saw the actors delivering the characters and dialogue I had created – it was a special moment that I will never forget,” Turunen exclaims.

Metsäjätti is based on a novel with the same title by Miika Nousiainen, published in 2011. Turunen still recalls his stress and excitement before showing the final film for the author of the book. Nousiainen reviewed the script in many stages of the process, although he did not wish to interfere with the film story. The only request he had was to include the Metallica band in the film, and happily the production team succeeded.

After years of working in film and tv-series productions, Turunen now saw the film making process fully from the writer’s perspective. A new experience for him was to see and comment on different edits of the film. Having also worked as director helped him to acknowledge everyone’s role and to respectfully stand back from decisions that were not for him to make.

“I feel that I was part of creating something that is meaningful and gives the audience something more than just an escape from everyday life. I believe our film gives hope in this world,” Timo Turunen concludes.

The film Metsäjätti was released for theatres in the autumn 2020.
Watch the trailer here and read more about the TAMK Master’s degree in Screenwriting.