Four students were selected to travel to Pori, Finland from the following courses Advanced Cert in Film & Documentary and Film & TV. They travelled on 2nd April and returned on the 23rd April 2022. The following is a short account of their experiences while in Erasmus+ placements.
STUDENT: Mellissa Brogan
It is hard to believe we have already completed our first week here in Pori as part of the Erasmus+ programme. Before arriving to Pori, I was trying to imagine what this experience might be like and so far, it has surpassed all my expectations. Taru, Frej, and all the Finnish students at Sataedu have welcomed us all with open arms and made us feel that we are part of the team. We started off our stay here by meeting with Taru and some of the Finnish students on Sunday for coffee at one of the local coffee shops. It was a great way to begin our three weeks here and meant we already had some familiar faces on our first day at the school on Monday.
The placement at Sataedu is a completely new experience for me and one which has allowed me to develop a number of skills as well as learn new ones too. This week we were learning how to do multi camera shoots in preparation for a concert which we will be working on with the Finnish students on Easter Sunday. It was something which I had never done before and something which I really enjoyed learning about. We were all given the opportunity to shoot, direct, and control the mixer during our rehearsals which was a great way to learn, as well as a way to figure out what kind of role you may be best suited to in future jobs in the film industry. The multi camera shoot lessons were also a great way to improve on my teamwork and adaptability skills and gave me the chance to improve my knowledge on camera setup too.
On Wednesday we went to Tampere with a group of the Finnish students to see another part of Finland, it is a beautiful city with lots of things to do and see. While we were there, we went to Vapriikki museum, it was interesting to learn more about Finland’s history and culture. We also got the chance to watch a hockey game at the Nokia Arena, hockey is something which is very popular here in Finland, it was a lot of fun and I was surprised by just how popular the sport is here, there were over 10,000 people at the game!
On one of the evenings after school, we went bowling with the other students, it was a great way to get to know them better and to spend time with them outside of school. Everyone here is so friendly and they are all putting so much effort into making sure we have to best experience possible while we are here. It has made the trip so much more special as we are not only getting an amazing opportunity to use high-end film equipment and learn skills which we can bring forward in future jobs, but we are also getting the chance to embrace Finnish culture and make new friends along the way. I am looking forward to what the next two weeks will bring.
Our second week here in Finland was filled with lots of new experiences and opportunities. We started off our second week here by taking an overnight cruise to Stockholm on Saturday evening. We went to Stockholm with two of the Finnish students from Sataedu school. When we woke up on Sunday morning we had arrived at the port in Stockholm and had the entire day to explore the city and see what it has to offer. I really enjoyed our time in Stockholm, it was great to experience another city and culture, and it was nice to have a chance to get to know the Finnish students who came over with us better. We arrived back to Pori on Monday morning feeling tired from the weekend but also excited for the upcoming week as we had a multi-camera shoot of a Finnish metal concert taking place on Easter Sunday. The band who were performing at the concert were called Memoira and it was their first live performance with an audience since the pandemic, the support act for the concert were called Rust N’ Rage, who were a local metal band from Pori.
Our week in the school was a busy one filed with rehearsals and preparation for the upcoming gig. It was a really enjoyable week and one where I learned a lot of new skills and improved on my problem-solving, communication, and adaptability skills. My role for the concert was Assistant Producer which meant I had to prepare all the necessary documents the crew would need for the gig, such as call sheets, setlists, music queues, and crew role lists. I was also working with the director of the multi-camera shoot and helping him with any tasks that he needed me to do. One of my favourite parts of my role was that on the night of the concert I had the job of keeping track of the music queues from the control room and was letting the director know what was coming up next in the songs to help him get an idea of when he would need particular shots of different members of the band. Getting the chance to be an Assistant Producer was a great experience for me and also meant that I got to be in the control room on the night, which is something I have never done before. This week we also had a Finnish taste testing evening with Taru on Tuesday, she is one of the media teachers at the school and has been looking after us while we are here. She cooked us a traditional Finnish stew with all of the traditional accompaniments that they have with the meal, it tasted really good and reminded me of Irish stew.
The multi-camera shoot went really well and was a great experience, I learned so much during both the preparation for the concert and on the night itself, and it has given me a new found love of producing. The concert was a great way to spend our Easter weekend here as we got an insight into the music culture in Finland and their love for Metal Music.
Our final week in Pori has been bitter sweet, although I am looking forward to going back to Galway and seeing my friends and family again, our time here has been filled with so many amazing opportunities that the three weeks have flown by and it is hard to believe we are now at the end of our Erasmus+ trip. I have really enjoyed my time in Finland, I have not only learned so much while I have been here and acquired skills which I will bring forward with me in future jobs, but I have also met amazing people who have made our time here so special, they have gone above and beyond to ensure we get to experience Finland in the best way possible and make the most out of our trip. Our last week in the school was really enjoyable, on Tuesday we were given a tutorial on a RED camera which was something I found interesting, when I first started this course in September, I would never have anticipated that I would be given the chance to be taught how to use equipment like this. On Wednesday, we went to an Escape Room with the Finnish students, it was a lot of fun - even though we did not manage to figure out how to escape before the time was up! After that we went for some food together and then went to the island of Reposaari, which is about a 30 minute drive from Pori. We walked through the woods and along the beaches there, it was great to get to see the Finnish outdoors and to be out in nature. Thursday was our final day in Pori, we started off the day at the school by shooting our own version of a Talk Show with the other Finnish students, the Talk Show’s topic was all about Finnish stereotypes and it was a lot of fun to film, I was the director of the shoot which gave me the chance to improve on my leadership and communication skills. At the end of the school day we said our goodbyes to the students and teachers at Sataedu, it was sad to say goodbye after spending some much time with them over these past three weeks. Later on in the afternoon, the international coordinators from Sataedu took us to Yyteri sands where we walked along the beach and tried some traditional Finnish snacks. It was a really nice way to end our time in Pori. On Friday morning we took a train to Helsinki, we spent the day exploring the city, I went to an art exhibition at the HAM museum and also went to Temppeliaukion church. I was glad that we had the chance to see Helsinki city before flying back to Ireland, I feel like we have really gotten the most out of this trip and been given the chance to experience the many different aspects and attractions which Finland has to offer.
This Erasmus+ trip has been an amazing experience and I would like to thank both Erasmus+ and Léargas for giving us this opportunity, as well as the staff from GTI for making this trip possible, and of course thank you to all of the amazing teachers and students from Sataedu! It has been an experience which I will think back on fondly.
STUDENT: Zach Mooney
We left Galway bus terminal at 12:10am. The bus ride was pleasant and took around 2 hours. When we arrived at Dublin airport at half 2, we had to wait an hour in the check-in line.
We boarded our flight after 6 and flew. In Amsterdam, due to the delays at Dublin we had to run to our terminal and board the flight to Helsinki immediately.
When we arrived at Helsinki, we got a few rains to Pori, our final destination. When we arrived at Pori station Taru and Mica were there to greet us with open arms. They drove us to our hostel, and we got checked in and dropped off our bags. Then Mica and Taru drove us to the local shopping centre to buy groceries. After all that they said goodbye. We all went out for pizza after a tiring day but I am glad we are finally here.
We met up with Taru at the shopping centre for coffee and to meet the other Finnish students. We had a good conversation for an hour or so and afterwards, the gang and I all went for walks around the town to get our bearings. We had a lazy day after meeting up with the students.
We met Jusso at the bus terminal in the city centre. He was a good chaperone, showing bus the times with a timetable and leading us to school on time. We got inducted to the school. Frej and Taru spoke to us as a class and made us all feel comfortable and at ease with the plans for the next few weeks. We immediately began working on cameras. Frej showed us around the school and began to explain multicamera work to us. We also got to meet the remainder of the Finnish students. They were all friendly and kind. It was a welcoming and guiding atmosphere at the school. After school we went for food with Jusso and went bowling together that evening. It was a fun day.
We woke up this morning to heavy snow. We were all so happy to see proper snow, but the Finnish were sick of it. We got to class and spent the day doing more multicam. We built a set to use on Thursday, a mock interview to demonstrate the multicam. The others met up with a few of the Finnish students and played bowling again. We also got to show off our short films to the class in a little theatre room they have.
Today was excursion day, we met up with Jusso and Emmi outside the hostel to wait for the bus. We drove to Tampere. We went to a museum; there we saw fire fighter memorabilia. Then we went to a monkey exhibit. We saw cool skulls and fake animals. We spent a few hours in the museum and then went for food in Manhattan Restaurant. After food the others went to a hockey game while Jusso, Emmi and I had a look around the town. We chatted, became friends and got some drinks. When the others finished the cool hockey game it was dark. We drove home at around 10pm and got home at midnight. It was a great day, I loved it.
At school we spent all day doing a mock interview. People would rotate sitting in the chairs as an interviewer and 2 guests as well as operating camera and being director/mixer. It was such a great experience. I got to direct and mix at the desk. It is a skill I would love to develop more. I also got to be a guest twice and an interviewer. I like being on camera with my background of acting so it came easy to me. I liked being a camera operator but many of our directors did not want the camera to move much so I did not have much to do. But overall, getting to use earpieces to hear from the director, operating a camera, mixing and acting made today my favourite day so far. I really enjoyed learning this new field of filmmaking. After class me and Jack met up with Jusso and watched a film together.
Today we continued our work on multicamera work. I really enjoyed continuing it. I also got to start practicing the piano they have in school. After school the gang and I played some cards. Me and jack met up with Jusso again and watched another film. It was a good day to end a great week.
Today was really busy. We were going on a trip to Sweden by boat. We met up with Mica and Emmi and got a 15 min bus and a 2 hour bus to Turku. We got checked in at the seaport and boarded the Baltic Princess Ferry at 8pm. We explored the big ship and had nice food. The rooms were comfortable. The gang spent the night in the discos having a fun night. We had to wake at 6 am the next day to leave for Sweden.
We got off at Stockholm at 6 am. We took a metro to the city centre and had a coffee. We planned our day around something everyone wanted to do whilst in Sweden. We first went to Gamla Stan (the old town) to explore the colourful streets. We saw the royal palace and took many photos. We saw a competition being filmed in the square and watched for a bit. We then went to the National Art Museum. There we saw beautiful statues, paintings and genuine antiques from Sweden’s History. I particularly loved a genuine portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children given to the King of Sweden in 1785. We then walked to a shopping centre and spent a while walking around and seeing some great shops and got some McDonalds. We went to a souvenir shop and bought some gifts for family. We walked around the exterior of the parliament building and finally saw some more of the amazing architecture. We got on the boat at half 8 and went to bed early.
We spent the morning travelling back to Pori from Turku. It was a long and hectic journey. We were all exhausted but content with yesterday's activities. However we met up with the Finnish students and did some more teamwork exercises. Jusso also bought us some Maami, a traditional Finnish dessert for us to eat. It was nice. The gang and I spent a quiet evening playing cards and hanging out at the hostel.
We did some multicam work with our director Ville in preparation for the concert on Sunday. Later on that day Taru came to the hostel with some Finnish foods for us to try. It was a nice relaxing day compared to the hectic days before.
Today I moved over from multicam work to work on lighting. I was involved in setting up a project with some students to create an advert for the school. The multicamera people got to practice for the concert by performing a mock concert with some students. It was really cool to see a big production and watch a makeshift concert. Everyone was very professional and strong in their respected fields. Taru tasked me with photographing the concert when I attend it on Sunday. We also got to experience a sauna and hot tub party with the students later on.
Sunday, we got to do the concert. From 11am to 8pm the gang and Finnish students began doing sound checks. I joined the gang later and took many photos of the concert. I got to watch the opening act Rust N Rage. They were excellent. After, there was a small break where we got to meet the band and make adjustments to any issues. I took more photos backstage. It was an overall fantastic night. We got home around 12 am and fell straight to sleep.
We had a debriefing of the concert the following day. We discussed what was good, what could have been better etc. Afterwards we had a party the following day to celebrate our success. We got to go to a sauna and chat for hours.
The next day in school, I got to finally film the commercial I was tasked with. As director and director of photography I got to design the style of lighting and set the scene. The remainder of the crew decided the lines and theme of the project. In a few hours we got to film the ad and I handed the footage over to the students to edit and use for their project.
The next day was a day out. Some of the Students and the gang went to an Escape room. We got into teams and did separate rooms. My group got an Alice and Wonderland themed one which we completed in time. After, we went to a small fishing village island. We walked through a nature park and saw some old WW2 bases. We then walked along the beach and took many photos of the sights.
It was also Jack's birthday, so we celebrated with a cake and I got him a present.
We had a goodbye celebration in the school. We played happy birthday on piano for Melissa. The Finnish students showed us some of their films. The gang got Taru and Frej an award and a present for being such good hosts. After school, we packed our bags and had a lazy day. I got to watch a film with Juuso and say goodbye to everyone.
We travelled to Helsinki, in advance of our homeward trip.
STUDENT: Jack O’Regan
After our first week in Pori, I would like to go over some of the multimedia things we did such as the way we set up the cameras. We set up four cameras and connected them to a mixer after which we had to set the setting of the camera to fit what the mixer was set, for example if the mixer was set to 1080p the camera would need camera be same will. Then we had to do some drills on how to handle the exposure using zebra and aiming them at different numbers and trying to focus quickly and along with that we had to do a slow zoom and keep it smooth. Along with that we had to learn to set the pre-sets on the camera such as peaking, zebra, and but keeping the movement smooth I learned about camera setting and how to do the right the brightness and how to maintain the focus when zooming One challenge I faced with the language in certain areas such as getting on the buses but luckily most people spoke fluent English and were very polite to speak English around us. The skills I developed were my confidence in camera skills and adjusting to a camera I never used before.
In the start of week two we took a cruise ship to Stockholm and spent the day in Sweden which was interesting as we got to experience some of their culture and learn about the city's past. The following day we did more multimedia practice with some more advanced drills like having lighting in different locations so we could adjust our zebra to the correct settings. Later that evening we were treated to some traditional Finnish food such as ox tail, mammi etc The next two days were more practice for the gig, and we studied previous shows of the band we were filming to learn how to improve what they have had in the past which we watched in full. On Friday we had our final practice where we set up the cameras in locations they will be during the show and the students pretended to be the band members and we went through all the songs on the show and practiced getting the shots. One challenge I faced was with cable management but was able to learn and get used to keeping the cables neat. A skill I developed was my communication with how I was asking questions about how to do certain things such as panning slowly and zooming in and out. Something positive about this week was the show was going very well.
After the show we had two days off then we had a sauna day because saunas are an important thing in Finland during this week we learned about a r.e.d camera and studied about lighting also the Finnish showed us some of their work and we showed them some of ours. On the Friday before are flight we went up to the Helsinki to stay a day in the capital city. For the final week there were not really any challenges I faced. I feel that under pressure I handled myself very well. A skill developed was my confidence again especially following the show. I felt I really developed a lot of camera skills over the show and my awareness was excellent. A positive was to see what the Finnish films were like and what their style was like.
STUDENT: Brian May
Having a long day of travel behind us (two plane trips and two bus journeys) we settled into our new abode for the next three weeks – The hostel Buisto. We were met at the airport by our Finnish contact and were driven to our dwellings and then taken shopping to gather any provisions we needed.
We met with the team (our Finnish colleagues) the next day who we would be working with over the next three weeks. The Finnish contingent were working on a promo video for a wholesale food business and were in the process of filming a Chef demonstrate a recipe, and so that was our first port of call. From there it was onwards to familiarise ourselves with the college in Nagala where we would primarily be spending our time.
Frej the technical teacher at the school, showed us the cameras we would be working with later in the second week (for a multi-camera music gig). That afternoon we spent familiarising ourselves with the cameras and their various features.
There was a decent dump of snow that first week and so it threw us back into wintery conditions for the bus to and from school. Personally, I was delighted with this, as it is so rarely, we experience the same conditions back home. We worked further on our multi-camera skills and just before home time we shared (in the mini cinema the school has) the various short movies we had done. It was a nice moment to take note of each other's ability in this area. That evening we spent time bowling together and then sharing stories.
The Finnish made sure that as a team we gelled well and so they organized a day trip to Tampere. While there we visited a museum and an ice hockey game. Once back in the school, further multi-camera activities took place. The remainder of the week was taken up with refining our use of the camera; we tried various types of multi camera tasks. In our free time, myself, and Melissa (another Erasmus student) were working on a short mocumentary of our time in Finland.
It was a valuable week for learning. Starting with the camera and the various settings. It was the first time I had heard of certain terms (like the ND filter) and will be especially useful going forward. Also, the Multi cam practice was a wonderful experience, where we practiced, speed, smoothness of movement and our ability to grab focus on a subject fast, a skill that will stand to us when we do the multi camera gig in a week.
My confidence around the camera has increased and it has been a great to see how the Finnish work in a group. They respect the hierarchy of the various positions. One of their peers will be assigned Director and they will put aside personal status and respect the role and rank, much like how the army operates. Culturally, the fact alone that we were hanging out with Finnish people was worth so much more than visiting Heritage sites; now having said that we did do the latter as well.
WEEK 2 (Sat 9th – Friday 15th)
We started the week of making the most of the snow before it melted as we thought it would look great in our mocumentary as it is most often snow that we tend to think of when we think of Scandinavia and this part of the world (Yes, I know the Finnish are not Scandinavian!). The week started on our weekend, but even with it been a day of rest the Finns invited us to observe a pilot (teaser trailer) they were shooting for a tv series. Once again, I find it invaluable to see behind the scenes to how actually the process of movie making happens. We could not stay long however as there was a trip to Stockholm planned when some of our other classmates. It was the first time I was on a cruise, and I took the opportunity to do a bit of Karaoke. The day trip to Sweden flew by so fast and it is hard to get a full feel for a city in such a short duration but aesthetically Stockholm really is beautiful. It was also one of our Finnish classmates first trip abroad and so that was nice to have been a part of her ‘maiden voyage’.
Once back in the school, the teacher’s stepped back and left us to Ville (our classmate) the assigned director of the upcoming multi camera show. The teacher’s ideology and manner of teaching and guidance really impressed me; it was short on theory and high on hands on learning. They were also not averse to giving out responsibility. So, Ville once again put us through drills to improve our camera skills. Melissa one of the Irish contingent, decided she wanted to try being a producer for the show and this request was duly granted.
In our free time we headed to the streets to do a Vox Pox with the local Finnish people to find out why they were considered the happiest in the world. They were much more open to talking than we expected but sadly we messed up the audio somehow and our shotgun mic gave a hissing sound throughout which rendered the footage unusable in the intended way at least.
That evening Taru, a teacher from the school arrived in the hostel and had brought a Traditional Finnish Stew for us to eat – It was delicious. She also brought some other sweets that are popular, and I particularly took to the tar like gum drops.
Back in school we practiced setting up as fast as we could. A multi camera show has as the name suggests lots of Cameras and so there are plenty of leads and cables to contend with. Proper set-up keeps everything clean and orderly. Between Camera and drills we watched other shows like what we would be doing the coming Saturday and critiqued them for their flaws and strengths. This was to familiarise ourselves with potential challenges we would encounter on the night.
Our last day in school this week was taken up with a dress rehearsal for the show. We got students not directly involved to fill in as band members and we worked through the set. We had Ville throughout ‘in our ear’ telling us when we were ‘live’. It was an intense experience.
I was relishing the challenge the upcoming show was providing me. I would be using a different lens than my peers given my camera position and so all my zooming would have to be done manually; this requires a steady hand! After a satisfying week in school, we finished it will a Sauna and hot tub party with our Finnish peers. It was a super night, after which I felt much more bonded to the group.
WEEK 3 (Sat 16th – Friday 22nd)
The big show was on Sunday and so we all had Saturday to rest and gather ourselves. I spent it walking about getting a feel for the town. Pori is a quiet city when compared to Galway. Very little footfall and plenty of people socially distanced.
The day of the show was a 14 hour day with a lot of standing around. We were going to be filming two bands. It was the second band who was financing the video, but it turns out to be the first band that stole the show (The second band had sound issues – nothing to do with us).
The day moved along fairly fast given its length, but I was well and truly ready for sleep afterwards. The clean-up was the most gruelling part when everyone was tired. Rolling up wires being the most tedious of jobs.
Once the big gig was out of the way the rest of our time in school was given over to teaching us what we wanted to learn. One of my colleagues wanted to learn about the RED camera and so Frej devoted some time to that; the rest of our time was given to creating a mocumentary talk show where we got to the heart of the Finnish mindset (it was called ‘Did you just Finnish?’). It was nice working with the Finns in this as they have a level of professionalism, where you can grab one of them to do lighting, one to do sound etc, and all of them know what they are doing. So, our small production came together very fast and turned out quite well. We ended our time in the school by presenting the Finnish with some gifts and thank you cards.
The last two days in Pori we went on various nature excursions. This was a nice change of pace as up to this we had only really experienced the urban side of Finland. Finland is the densely forested country in the world when compared to the civilised areas – and so we walked in many forests but also saw a beautiful beach as well. Before we flew out, we spent a day in Helsinki.
Overall, I had a very rewarding experience in Finland. We got to see their way of life up close and formed bonds with many of students. The school was very impressive, with an emphasis on practicality. There seemed to be more freedom in their teaching style.
I am so grateful to Erasmus+ and Leargas for affording me this opportunity to travel and work abroad, as without them and their generosity Finland would have remained someplace, I heard about, but never saw with my own eyes. Cultural, I have come to the conclusion that they are like the Irish, but a little more introverted, we share more in common than we don’t. I came away from my experience understanding the mechanics of the camera and film production much better than I did before I left. It was satisfying to work as part of a very well-defined team, as it gave me a real flavour of what a life in the industry would be like.