We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikael Senninge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikael, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe risk is essential in our work life and in our personal life. By taking a risk we offer ourselves the opportunity for a positive outcome which is an improvement over the current state we’re in. It is to avoid complacency and to constantly take leaps that have a possibility for failure because the alternative is the absence of progress. But when we decide to do something risky, we have to do it responsibly and manage the chances of success and failure, and measure how valuable the positive outcome is and if it’s worth the risk.
There has been a few instances in my work life where I’ve decided to make drastic changes that could be seen as risky. For example, I decided to quit a desirable engineering internship at 24 years old, leaving a safe path to steady employment to go to film school. This was seen as something of high risk from the perspective of my parents and friends, but I had thought about it a lot and it felt almost impossible to stay on the path I was on, when the other alternative was a career that I would find to be very meaningful.
An other example was when I decided to move to Tokyo shortly after finishing film school and gaining my footing in the film industry in my hometown. This step into the unknown would mean losing all my work connections and having to make new ones in a new place where I didn’t even speak the language.
In both cases there was obvious risk but I decided the potentially positive outcome was worth it. I also didn’t take these risks carelessly, instead planned my moves carefully, preparing financially and having opportunities to back out in case things didn’t go as planned.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I find great pleasure in creating images, challenging myself and constantly striving to improve my craft. The work I find the most fulfilling is where I get to learn about people and look at life from a different perspective than my own. I enjoy diving into new projects and exploring my understanding of visuals and emotions.
Apart from the actual process of filming, what i find exciting about my work is that I constantly get to see new places I wouldn’t have gone to by myself, meet interesting people, and be part of a team of skilled professionals.
After finishing film school, I started working as an assistant and learned a lot working for people whose skills I deeply admired. Little by little I started to acquire skills and went on to work on many exciting projects. It’s definitely an unpredictable career path with ups and downs but a very exciting one.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m very fortunate to live in Tokyo where the possibilities are endless. I like exploring different areas of the city, walking around, finding restaurants, bars, and cafés. For example, the old town in Asakusa, the beautiful river at Naka-Meguro, the busy city atmosphere of Shinjuku, the park near Ueno, etc. If we would spend a week together we would meet up at different train stations every day and see what we can find.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am very thankful to the people who gave me a chance early in my career as a young filmmaker, trusting me and mentoring me through my first jobs. It takes courage to jump into the unknown as a young filmmaker but it also takes courage to give the opportunity to someone who doesn’t have any track record or any experience, and relying only on the potential you see in them.
Behind the scenes photo by Jeremy Hannigan