Meet ArtEx participant Mie Gjersen

Production designer Mie Gjersen Hansen (33) has finally found security in her leader role.

Text: Lene Christensen. Photo: Agnete Brun

“One gets a fantastic opportunity with ArtEx.”

Production designer Mie Gjersen Hansen (33) has finally found security in her leader role. 

Mie used to worry a lot before an assignment. However, one piece of advice from her mentor, the BAFTA winning and Oscar-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood helped her to manage her stress.

Sarah Said “No matter the size of the project, big or small, the challenges are the same. You must focus on the time and the financial situation.”

This has brought a kind of peace and quiet and reduced the pressure, says Mie.

“Having a mentor is worth its weight in gold, both when it comes to getting advice on how to handle professional challenges and on how to look at oneself.”


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Building competency and networks

Since mid-2021, Mie has been part of Talent Norge’s elite programme ArtEx which allows twelve selected talents access to mentors, coaches and a broad professional network.

“You get a fantastic opportunity through ArtEx. Not only have I had a super mentor, but ArtEx has given me the opportunity to get into contact with many people in the industry”, says Mie.

Under the direction of ArtEx Mie has been on a study tour to various production companies in London, which she describes as extremely inspiring and motivating. She also visited the village of Lechlade-on-Thames to see how class society was reflected in its architecture and culture. 

“I was able to exchange views with seasoned professionals in my line of business and learn what it means to work on a medium sized production and a major Hollywood-sized film production. I’ve also learned a lot of useful things about English architecture, culture and art history ” 


Leaning towards London

As a teenager Mie was determined to study design and architecture. Later on she heard about the production design course at The Norwegian Film School in Lillehammer, Norway and she was sold on the film life! Soon after graduation she started working on  projects such as…«Okkupert», (Occupied) «Livstid» (Lifetime), and «Julestjerna» (the Christmas Star), and Netflix series such as «Hjem til jul» (Home for Christmas) and «Julestorm» (A Storm for Christmas).

Mie has lived on and off in Oslo but now bases herself  in Copenhagen between travels and assignments. She was recently in San Francisco attending a course in the 3D architectural programme, Sketch Up.

“ I want to work more internationally and my aim is to get into the film industry in London” says Mie.


Developed herself as a leader

Through ArtEx, Mie has had good conversations with a coach and has worked actively on developing herself as a leader.

“We found out together that one of my qualities as a person and leader is my basic calm and my ability to keep calm”, says Mie.

She also became totally aware of how important it is for her to prioritise spending time in nature.

“Giving myself up to nature and letting myself be absorbed by it feeds my calmness”.

To Mie, good leadership means being flexible and seeing and recognizing people around you. During a study tour to London she was particularly inspired by production designer Mark Digby and his colleague Michelle Day’s way of leading while visiting them on the set of a Disney+ production.

“Not only are they clever storytellers but they also have an impressive feel for finesse and detail in production design. They are also pleasant people and competent leaders who understand how to create a well-functioning work environment sprouting with creativity”, says Mie.

When having to perform in an environment with a lot of stress and pressure it’s important to pursue a culture that cheers each other on, according to Mie.

“I have worked a lot on celebrating individual victories and what we manage to do as a team”.


She likes working behind the scenes

As a production designer it is Mie’s responsibility to create the surroundings and ensure that the visual side harmonises with the plot. She leads a team that is to set up the scenery and the stage, the lighting and the play of colours. Everything we see on the screen, actually, but which we probably don’t think about. Mie thinks that is quite OK.

“If people who are not film people become aware of all the work behind a production, some of the magic might disappear” says Mie.

She likes working with the background and arranging everything so that the audience can disappear into another universe and getting as much atmosphere as possible out of tight budgets.

“It suits me well. I'm too shy for the limelight”.


She used Granny’s Christmas decorations

Mie gets her inspiration from almost everywhere. From museums, photo books, people who dress unusually, the light falling in a particular way. Then she gets her phone out and takes pictures. Maybe she can reproduce the same feeling on the next set?

“It's about getting out and seeing new things. I’m fascinated by fantastic light, a fantastic composition and colours”, says Mie.

She likes using strong colours and thinks it’s fun with the small details that contribute to a complete picture. When she was a set dresser in «Hjem til jul» (Home For Christmas) she brought along her own grandmother Else’s Christmas decorations to make the leading character, Johanne’s flat more decorative.

«Granny was very, very proud!»



Apply for ArtEx

Programme of Excellence in Performing Arts and film (ArtEx) is an interdisciplinary talent developing programme which is to help top-level artists to further develop themselves artistically and build an interesting and sustainable career. Through the programme you will become part of an extensive national and international network, you will get to take part in interdisciplinary professional gatherings under the auspices of Talent Norge. A support network will be available to you throughout the duration of the programme, consisting of a mentor, a coach and a place on Olympiatoppen’s health service. You will also get an individual scholarship that is to be used for professional development in consultation with your mentor. 








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