• 21/02/2024

The second Animation Mentor -program came to an end on February 15th, when the program’s mentees and mentors meet at the program’s closing ceremony at Helsinki’s Lasipalatsi. In the meeting, the experiences and learnings of the last six months were reviewed, the inputs at the beginning of the program were reflected to the current situation and how the goals were realized. In this program participants were Marika Nieminen’s who’s mentor was Joonas Utti, Petri Järvinen with mentor Nick Dorra and Veronica Salomon who’s mentor was Leena Jääskeläinen. In the blog posts below, the mentees sum up their own experiences with the program.

Marika Nieminen

So, here we are. The mentoring program is over. When sitting in the closing meeting with all the other members, reflecting how fast the program has gone by, I did feel that I’ve had the chance to learn and do a lot during these six months. It sounded like the other actors had a very productive program too, and it was genuinely interesting hearing their experiences. 

Thinking back, 2023 was a weird year for me, especially the very end of it. I turned 30 in September so maybe it was my life going through some sort of a restructuring in the universe, who knows if such things are even possible. But as the new year has started, my life decided to take another drastic turn on short notice. Luckily, it was a good turn.

Things have fallen into their place, at least for now, and as I’m preparing for a new chapter in my life, I can’t help remembering how I felt last year. In the beginning of the program I felt uncertain, lacking confidence and feeling scared for my future. So, I am happy to say that things have progressed and I have gotten some incredible opportunities in my career. I cannot say I have reached the end of my artistic journey, not by a long shot. But I feel I have taken some significant, major strides forward. 

In our last meeting with Joonas, we reflected on what I have been doing and what we had been discussing. He also reminded me to keep going and practising the things I learned during the program, to keep growing and always remember my own artistic identity while I work on bringing other people’s stories to life. Joonas mentioned he was happy to help a fellow artist, and I hope he knows just how much he did help me. And I’ll be forever grateful for that.

A few years ago, I learned to take life a month at a time. Who knows what will happen, where I’ll be in my future, or what I’ll be doing. But I’ll go there with new confidence, with newly found energy and eagerness. Someone once told me that building your artistic career isn’t full of successes and failures. It’s filled with steps, each paving a way up, towards your goals. And one day, you can look back and see how high you have climbed thanks to the steps you have taken. That metaphor stuck with me till this day, and I will be thinking of this program as one of my own steps.

And if you’ve read all of my blog posts, I want to thank you and I hope I was able to offer you something. Amusement, if nothing else.


Veronica Solomon

Same-same, but different” – a conclusion.

First of all I want to say that am really grateful to Leena and the Animation Guild for this mentoring opportunity, this is exactly what I hoped for when I applied.

…even if things didn’t go so smooth in the real world…

I needed to read my first blog entry again to remember what we set out for. What was it? yes, the thing with working as an animation filmmaker within a cooperative. Oh, boy!

I mean the mentoring did go as planed and Leena kindly gave me all the information I needed and then some. But the cooperative I co-founded in Tampere is nothing like the one Leena is a part of. And I had to learn that the things that work for them, don’t work for us, or I cannot replicate the same conditions for myself within the frame of my cooperative, partly because of bureaucracy, partly because of the human factor.

So all I could do is to start looking for a different option for myself and my work. And unfortunately there weren’t so many options except for me starting my own business, no matter how unappealing that was to me. The thought of becoming an entrepreneur made me really anxious. One thing that helped was realising that the Finnish word for entrepreneur -“yrittäjä” means “tryer”. 

So I guess I’m gonna be trying.

“Bendpanic Production” is the name of my studio. For now it’s just me and my minions.

Could have I reached to this point without the mentoring? Maybe. But probably way later.

Leena was concerned that her input didn’t help much because I didn’t end up achieving my initial set goals. But I see great value in her helping me understand how things should function in a cooperative in order for someone like us to be able to work and in helping me understanding that the situation I was in was less than ideal.

Another thing that I’ve learned in this process is that the administrative system is not easy for any independent creative person, but is definitely very difficult and frustrating for a foreigner. There are help stations, but it is quite exhausting to find and access them and sometimes one opportunity cancels another…  If there’s anybody reading this who would like to get more details, please feel free to get in touch.

Thank you so much, everyone who made this possible!