Earlier this year Finnish producer Markus Selin sold a significant stake of his Solar Films production outfit to Danish major Nordisk Film. Selin describes the move as "the key to our future expansion - it will open doors worldwide".
"So far we have not aimed at the international markets, but it's long been at the back of my mind. Why only make films for Finnish audiences'" he says. "Our films have done great domestic box office, now is the time to test our wings abroad."
Solar Films' first international feature is Finnish director Pete Riski's English-language horror movie Dark Floors. The $5.7m productions stars Finnish monster rock group Lordi - winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 - with a mainly UK cast headed by Skye Bennett and Noah Huntley.
Although Selin is supporting the ongoing Finnish producers' strike - in protest against a lack of production financing from the government - Solar boasts a vibrant slate. It is headed by Renny Harlin's untitled Carl Mannerheim project, his first Finnish feature for 20 years. The $17m-$20m biopic of the former Finnish president is now in pre-production.
Selin is also planning a trilogy based on Kalevala, the Finnish epic which apparently inspired JRR Tolkien to write The Lord Of The Rings (and to learn Finnish in order to read it in its original tongue). Selin's partner, Jorma Tommila, is scripting part two.
The son of an exhibitor, Selin began his career in the 1980s with the launch of Finland's second video distribution company. It released 800 titles within three years. In 1986, he moved into film production and teamed with Harlin to co-write and produce English-language thriller Born American, which proved Harlin's ticket to the US.
Selin initially worked with Harlin in the US, before returning to Finland to launch Solar Films, now the country's leading production outfit. Selin has produced 16 features, which have received 23 Jussis, the national film prize.
Since 2003, Solar titles have topped the local charts. Last year Aleksi Makela's Matti - Hell Is For Heroes, a drama about a legendary Finnish ski jumper accused of murder, garnered 461,314 admissions. This year, Makela's V2 Dead Angel has sold 184,000 tickets.
"I pick my projects with a broad audience in mind," says Selin. "My main concern is the script. I never compromise, even though another two drafts may delay the production.
"We thought Dark Floors would be ready for release this year, but the script didn't really move the way we wanted," he explains. "So we postponed the project, and instead it will open on February 8, 2008."
Markus Selin's Cultural Life
Favourite book: The Kid Stays In The Picture by Robert Evans.
Favourite films: The Godfather, American Beauty and Robert Aldrich's 1974 film The Longest Yard.
Favourite newspapers and magazines: Wallpaper.
Inspirations: Good screenplays.