The potential of Aalto University takes shape in cooperation project

Business economics and creative artistic side joined forces in cooperation project.

‘I believe that voluntary cooperation between different Aalto University units and committed people bring good results. I hope that we will continue to have these projects at Aalto University’, says Asta Viertola, a student of Film and Television Producing.

She participated in a project that saw two ‘extremes’ of Aalto University, the Department of Film, Television and Scenography and the Department of Accounting of the School of Business, cooperate. The departments cooperated on a study ordered by the Finnish Film Foundation on the cost effects of digitalization on the Finnish film industry. Accounting and film joined forces successfully in the project, which was led by researcher Katja Kolehmainen from the Department of Accounting.

‘In these types of projects the possibilities of Aalto University take shape in that the university can offer a totally different range of possibilities than other universities. In the project we soon learned to speak the same language and share information’, says Kolehmainen.

15 companies participated

The researchers had access to financial statement data of 15 film and television companies. The data was of a fairly general nature and was not very detailed. The researchers gained more detailed information from a large number of interviews. However, this data relies on what the interviewees are willing to tell.

‘The main purpose of the project was to have a look at the effect of digitalization on profitability and the sector’s operating methods. We studied three groups: movie production companies, distribution companies and movie theatres’, says Katja Kolehmainen.

The project galvanized a lot of interest among students: there were 17 applicants. In addition to film student Asta Viertola, Marika Westman from accounting, Arttu Talvitie from marketing and Janne Jaalivaara from economics were selected.

Credits from the project can be included in bachelor’s or master’s studies but that is not the biggest reason why Asta Viertola decided to join the project.

‘The reason was the project itself. It was an interesting subject and I wanted to be part of it. I thought I had something to contribute. Even though I study to become a producer we don’t study the financial side that much and I gained a new perspective’, says Asta Viertola.

Students bear the main responsibility

The students bear the main responsibility in the project. The supervisor’s role is to focus the purpose and implementation methods of the study, select the team, spar the team and monitor the timetable.

‘The students implement the project independently I will participate in making the finishing touches’, says researcher Kolehmainen.

The movie industry has gone through a period of major technical transition in the last few years. The digitalization of the production and distribution chain can be compared to the sound film revolution. The digitalization of sound and post-production started at the beginning of the 1990s. Gradually the entire production and distribution chain, filming equipment and theatre distribution went digital. The digitalization of movie theatres started in 2006.

Positive attitude towards digitalization

It is possible to infer from the results of the study that digitalization has been indispensable for the sector’s competitiveness and profitability.  Thanks to digitalization films can premiere at the same time in different parts of Finland as the film does not have to be transported. However, one-screen theatres are vanishing as their profitability is dropping with multiplex theatres becoming prevalent.

On the basis of the study it is possible to see that overall the film industry holds quite a positive view on the digitalization of the sector. However, it is difficult to assess the direct financial effects as it takes time to adjust to the new technology and to the possibilities it offers. Based on the study, the most important effects of digitalization seem to concern the faster circulation and better availability of movies, in particular in smaller localities.

In addition, most interviewees thought that the digitalization of movies has contributed to the higher number of movie-goers. However, digitalization was thought to set new challenges for theatre companies as programming gains added importance in the new digital world.

Text: Helinä Hirvikorpi
Photo: Mikko Raskinen

Page content by: | Last updated: 24.07.2015.