Vitenskap og forskning

Interview with Pierre Dugowson, filmmaker of the documentary series «Heidi’s Ice» currently being filmed in Svalbard

18. mai 2022 - 18. juni 2022


Picture by Pierre Dugowson


Pierre Dugowson, filmmaker at COSMONAUT391, and the glaciologist Heidi Sevestre have put together a mini documentary series on the Svalbard archipelago entitled Heidi’s Ice. Consisting of 4 episodes of 13 minutes, this series aims to follow Heidi Sevestre in her work as a glaciologist in Svalbard to raise public awareness about climate change. It will be broadcast by TV5 Monde in 2023.

The Institut Français de Norvège supports this project by financing Pierre Dugowson’s mobility in Svalbard for the shooting of the series. Two trips are planned in 2022, one in April and the other one in October.

We interviewed Pierre upon his return to France after the first trip to Svalbard and the first shots. Here is a summary of our discussion, here is his story:

Pierre Dugowson went to this Arctic Archipelago in April. The filming took place in Longyearbyen and around the Negribreen glacier during one week. This experience was a real discovery for him! It is only since his return to France that Pierre measures the impact of this trip to Svalbard on him.

Pierre left with a blank sheet of paper. For the first time in his career, he left alone and without a script. He knew what he wanted to convey, to give voice to a scientist who is totally determined to transmit her knowledge, her experiences and her travels… The script was therefore thought up on the spot, during the long snowmobile crossings, discussions with Heidi, and the images that were offered to their eyes. They had to deal with the particular conditions of an Arctic shoot: the luminosity, the colors, the weather and terrain conditions… Some road shots were deviated, some shots were readjusted: Pierre and Heidi had to adapt to nature, to the Arctic, to stay focused and to draw the script little by little.

As soon as he arrived at the airport, Pierre was amazed by the view of the fjord, and a very strong emotion came over him. He compares this first vision of the Arctic and Svalbard, implacable but in no way aggressive, to Heidi herself. Despite the difficulties of such a shoot, without a technical crew, with the bare necessities of equipment and in an extreme environment, Pierre and Heidi worked together in an inspiring atmosphere, in tune, which made everything easier.

In Pierre’s words:

«This shoot is neither a documentary about glaciers, nor a portrait of Heidi Sevestre. The objective is to convey Heidi’s vision as a glaciologist in Svalbard. It is not a moralizing or accusatory documentary, but one of awareness.»

In conclusion, this first experience in the Arctic was a success for Pierre.

Since his return, Pierre has begun to sort and process the documents he has accumulated. He is now preparing his second trip to Svalbard in October 2022 with Heidi Sevestre in order to continue the filming of the documentary series.

We wish Pierre and Heidi a good shooting in October and hope to get more information about the episodes soon! We look forward to viewing the documentary series with the audience at the Institut Français de Norvège.