There were a lot of people dreaming about making films, and they would finance maybe 6 films a year. Because they were funded by the government, the films sort-of had to deal with serious social issues - and, as a result, nobody went to see those films.
This was in '79. I got pretty restless there, sitting around with a lot of people sitting around smoking cigarettes and talking about films, but nobody really doing anything.
A government institution called the Finnish Film Foundation funds filmmaking there, and I wrote several screenplays but never got any money. They were sent back to me, and they said that they were too commercial for them.
Eventually I did that, but it took a lot of twists and turns, and there were a year or two there where I was living with no money at all - no home, no car, no nothing. I was living in somebody's garage in Los Angeles at that point - for a year.
Several times we were stranded in strange places without any money and with our credit cards cancelled - trapped in a hotel that we couldn't check out of because we had no money to check out.
What I learned most was how to tell a story in 15 seconds or 30 seconds or 60 seconds - to have some kind of goal of what to try to do and make it happen in that time.
You want to do something that shows some type individuality and talent and imagination - at the same time, you want to be truthful to the predecessors, because obviously the audience liked something about them and you have to replicate that experience to a certain extent.
I think the reason why we were able to actually get it made was that we were so extremely naive - we had no experience at all here. We didn't even know that you were supposed to have an agent. We didn't even have a lawyer. We didn't know one soul.
Ford Fairlane was one of those movies that was so much fun to make that it was bound not to be a big hit.
I've continued to always keep in mind having a healthy does of that in Hollywood, now that I am part of the system and obviously have to follow the way the system works - you still have to have that crazy determination.
I loved movies and went to see every movie I could in Finland.
Actually, it was first a movie called Gale Force, which was a hurricane movie. That script never came together, and then the same deal was replaced with Cliffhanger.
At that point, the movie was called Wild Force. Everything fell apart, eventually - our financing completely fell apart - and we were never able to make that film.
Eventually, in '84, we made a film for a little over a million dollars - with American actors that was shot in English - that was shown in Finland A little action film called Born American.
I became a real Shell Motor Oil expert, and I did this 25-minute film. It turned out really well and, as a result, they offered me more work and lots of commercials to direct.