• Reeta Varpama

A Brief Film History of Reeta

Imagine an early morning in the summer of 2006. You are surrounded by huge, ancient trees in the middle of nowhere. It's promising to be a hot day. The moisture in the air makes the leaves on the baby plants glisten. You are splashing your way in and out of a humid greenhouse, alone and on a mission. The flabby sound of the frogs bobbing in the puddles, the water streaming from the hose you are holding, and the sweet tunes of the 30 songs that fit on your mp3 fill your ears. You have a purpose here. It's the beginning of a new chapter.

This was me at my first job working at an arboretum for a summer. Nothing to do with film, I hear you exclaim. Well, there was a camcorder I wanted, so I needed to start making money stat. Hollywood would be just one step away! After getting my pay check for rolling around in mud for a few weeks, off I went to purchase my beloved camcorder. In the safety of my home, I unpacked the beauty and beheld it before me like the Holy Grail. I was afraid that one wrong turn of the hand, one hesitation would shatter it into a thousand pieces. When I first turned it on, I swear I could hear a choir of angels burst into divine song.

Pictured above: An intense moment on set with a dear colleague c. 2005

Fast-forward to my early years in Cambridge. I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film and Television Production in 2013 with a first because yes, you guessed it, I practically devoured that course. University pushed me creatively and entrepreneurially, and in my second year I found myself co-running a pretty successful production company. Just as well, now I had a job to go to after graduation!

Although I was a badass business boss, my heart yearned for something else. So after a few years of learning and growing, I moved on, focusing on honing my creative craft; writing, directing and editing music videos, short films and client productions big and small. Then in 2020, while I was silently watching the whole world was burning around me, I was commissioned by the BBC to write and direct and radio comedy called Princess of Darkness. I have since worked extensively with DigiPeople Studio in Helsinki as a writer-director-editor on promotional and doc-style productions. In addition, I'm in post-production with Bafta-winning director, Dr Shreepali Patel on her latest feature documentary The Frontline (working title) where we dive into the world of the healthcare workers in the UK and US who, in the middle of fighting this pandemic, have found solace in creativity. I'm also working with Collusion and director Gavin Toomey on a multidisciplinary interactive arts installation RESOLUTION, which features short films starring Kate Dickey (yes, from Game of Thrones!).

To prove (to no one in particular) that I'm indeed my own biggest cheerleader and marketing exec, I will have it known that I write and direct fluently in two languages - those would be Finnish and English, in case your deduction abilities failed you today (don't worry, I won't tell). Over the years I have developed a deep understanding for story structures, funny twists and IS THAT AN EXCELLENT DIVERSION TO MAKE THIS POINT, very amusing, much success.

Throughout my existence I have been driven by the inexplicable desire to make the imagined a reality, and I haven't much cared about what I have had to do to make it happen. I have found myself typing up scripts, draft after draft, sweating over treatments, securing budgets, making schedules and call sheets, release forms and risk assessments, scouted locations, assembled crews, auditioned talent, poured my money into fake moustaches and stupidly expensive parking, directed in the middle of central London and remotely over video calls (lockdown blues)... ultimately running creative productions with incredibly talented teams and managed to make something out of nothing. It really is magic.

I was only dreaming about doing all of this back in that forest 15 years ago. Luckily technology has come in leaps and bounds since I first held the camcorder in my hands. Although I would be lying if I told you that I didn't occasionally dig out that very same camcorder and marvel at it full of nostalgia.

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