Crossing Borders Pays Off in So Many Ways

INTERVIEW. Mikkel Jersin is headed to Cannes as Producer on the Move. Here he talks about the many gifts that come with adopting a "cross-border" approach to film production.

"One of the most important things a film producer should know how to do is to balance a deep passion for filmmaking with the ability to stay above the fray," Mikkel Jersin, this year’s Danish Producer on the Move at Cannes, says.

"Close collaboration, especially between European producers, is a great gift"

"You don’t become a film producer unless you’re passionate about it, considering that you sometimes have to work 60-hour weeks or more. But alongside the feeling that putting this film into the world is a matter of life and death, I’m also aware of the need to keep a cool head. Otherwise, as a producer, you can’t deliver a good, creative solution when problems arise. A skilled producer is an adaptable and pragmatic people person who knows how to listen," he says.

Mikkel Jersin produced Icelandic-set San Sebastian winner "Sparrows." Foto: Sophia Olsson.

A European experience bank

Jersin, 35, graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2011 and soon after was headhunted by Nimbus Film. Last year, he co-founded the Snowglobe production company, which thrives on international collaboration.

"Close collaboration, especially between European producers, is a great gift," Jersin says. "It’s a vast knowledge and experience bank: there’s bound to be a colleague out there who has dealt with the exact same problems you’re facing now and can help you solve them.

"When you shoot abroad, you have to trust your collaborators even more than usual,” he says. "While giving up your 'home-field advantage' may involve some cultural challenges, it’s definitely been my experience that international partnerships come with far more advantages than disadvantages. In my experience, I’ve not only met my goals but exceeded them when combining skills across national borders."

Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid in Joachim Trier's Norwegian-US-Danish co-production "Louder than Bombs." Photo: Jakob Ihre

Jersin is co-producer of the Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s third feature, "Louder than Bombs," while Rúnar Rúnarsson’s 2015 San Sebastian winner "Sparrows" is his first Danish production credit. Shooting "Sparrows" in Iceland more than ever called for adaptability and a cool head. "We got hit by everything from erupting volcanoes and landslides to currency disasters," Jersin says, in a tone implying that he's learned to see the lighter side of that film's hard birth.

Pays to produce cheaply

As for his expectations about going to Cannes as a Producer on the Move, he says, "I hope I’ll meet some likeminded colleagues who are at the same place in their careers as I am and build my network – gladly with film nations that tend to be overlooked in Denmark, like Georgia, for instance."

Snowglobe has an ambition to produce films in flexible ways. One of the most valuable things Jersin has learned in the last five years is that it often pays to produce more cheaply. "If you’re willing to rethink your original plan in order to shave some money off the budget, you can save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent chasing money,” Denmark's Producer on the Move says.

Tags: Cannes 2016