Yle’s MOT programme has discovered that film director Renny Harlin was paid €700,000 for the calamitous biopic of Finland’s war hero and president Field Marshall Carl Gustaf Mannerheim which ran up almost 7 million euros’ worth of debt before filing for bankruptcy.
The Yle investigation claims that Harlin demanded to be paid his final salary for the project after filming was abandoned in Hungary in autumn 2010.
At that time the whole project was in a catastrophic state of crisis, after a German financier went back on an agreement to invest 2.5 million euros in the film. The sum was to be the largest single investment of the film’s 12 million euro budget.
Half of Harlin’s pay packet came from the pocket of the film’s producer, Markus Selin. Immediately after the payment Harlin withdrew from the project to continue pursuing his film career in the US.
”I don’t like talking about it,” Selin told MOT. “He probably had to go back to America to continue building his career and so on. It wasn’t exactly a beautiful episode, but that’s how it went,” he said.
The experience is believed to have led to a breakdown in the relationship between the two long-time friends, Harlin and Selin.
“I put my career in the States on hold and came back to Finland after 20 years to fully concentrate on the Mannerheim film. I myself left the project with tears in my eyes once I knew that the financing simply wasn’t going to happen,” Harlin told MOT.
When the film finally descended into bankruptcy, with debts of 6,972,000 euros, many small companies suffered losses. Pekka Lahti’s company Boot Factory made boots for the production and has been left 10,000 euros out of pocket. Lahti says he’s very angry about the revelation that Harlin was paid such a large sum before dropping out of the project.
”If they’d have been tough guys they’d have financed the film themselves and seen it through to the end,” he said.
MOT can be watched on Yle Areena here (in Finnish only)