A Danish Film Producer Breaks Down His New York Experience
After interning in New York in 2003, the Danish film producer Asger Hussain never made it back to Denmark.
“The unpacked moving boxes from my old apartment in Copenhagen are still in my parents’ basement somewhere,” says Asger Hussain, as he explains the life-changing moment that brought him over to the Big Apple.
In fact, in 2003 the award-winning Danish film producer travelled to New York to intern at a film production company. He fell in love with the city and never quite made it back.
As one of the producers of the Oscar-winning 2009 American drama film Precious, Asger Hussain has pursued his own version of the American dream in the world of cinema with great success.
#DenmarkInNY spoke with him about his latest projects and what young Danes can do to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in the American film industry.
DNY: What makes New York the place to live as a film producer?
Asger Hussain: There’s a thriving, internationally minded film industry in New York, and it attracts people from all over the world. That’s how I got to produce my upcoming film, a South African western called Five Fingers for Marseille. The initial meeting with the filmmakers took place in New York and we shot it locally in the Maloti Mountains, which is close to the border of Lesotho.
What has been your biggest New York moment?
Our film Precious which was shot during a very cold New York winter. The film was a big success worldwide, but the making of it was a once in a lifetime experience. We filmed all over the city at every hour of the day, and I witnessed a New York not often depicted in the mainstream.
As a Dane, what are the differences between working here and in Denmark?
Being a film producer and business owner, you have to maintain an extremely high degree of self-motivation. And at the end of each day, you better have a razor sharp plan for the following morning. New York City may have city limits, but the competition here is truly global.
Has your Danishness impacted your career in the US film business in any way?
Absolutely. I think our Danish values are strong differentiators in most work environments outside of Denmark. For something as cut throat as the entertainment industry, the combination of efficiency paired with a respectful approach goes a long way.
What advice would you give to aspiring Danes who want to kickstart their US careers in film production?
Plan ahead, ask people for advice — the Consulate General in New York is an excellent resource of information and contacts — and be prepared to work hard from Day One.
Silke Baumann is the Press, Culture & Public Diplomacy Intern at Denmark In NY.