Pierre Dugowson: Completing personal projects

It’s evening, a little girl is in bed, her mother is reading her “Goldilocks and the three bears”. But the little girl doesn’t seem to like it. She doesn’t understand that bears are made to “talk”, or rather, that we « talk » for them. The mother goes in search of a bear.

What are the most formidable challenges inherent to the profession of filmmaking?

Bringing personal projects to fruition. It’s a relief when you get to the first day of shooting a film.

Could you elaborate on the wellspring of your creative inspiration for this particular short film?

I went to shoot a documentary in the Arctic, it deeply shook me. A month after, the idea for this film came up. I’d just spent some time in polar bear land, so that was obviously a major influence. But I have to say that I have no idea where my ideas come from, it’s a complete and lovely mystery.
Conte Sauvage | Poster
Pierre Dugowson

Could you elucidate on the central thematic underpinning of your film?

I question the way we look at animals. Culturally we only look at them from a profit angle. Can we eat them? wear them? Can they carry us? etc. I can’t understand that anthropocentrism persists today. The current sixth mass extinction did not happen by chance… By the way, it’s a comedy!

How do you navigate the task of strategizing cost-effective promotional efforts when operating within a constrained budget?

I don’t know. I put all my energy into making the best film possible. If I’ve worked well and if I’m lucky, the film will be selected for festivals. And if the film also wins prizes, it might have a chance of being bought by TV channels…

In today's dynamic marketplace, how pivotal do you consider the role of film distribution?

Distributors can have ideas of potential buyers for your films that only they have… That’s precious…

For individuals contemplating the path of self-distribution, what counsel or insights can you offer?

I don’t know. I’d look for a distributor.

In your estimation, what level of significance do short films hold for aspiring filmmakers seeking to embark on a career in directing?

It’s absolutely essential. It’s the only way to learn how to hold a set, how to convey your vision to the crew, how to direct actors, and confronting your fantasies with the actual making of the film. And it allows you to try out lots of things stylistically. Better make a lot of them.

Reflecting on your professional journey thus far, could you share an instance of the most formidable challenge you encountered and how you surmounted it?

This documentary in the Arctic, HEÏDI’S ICE, I shot on my own, with the glaciologist Heïdi Sevestre, without any funding. It’s about the melting of the glaciers, I felt it was important and urgent to make it, and I was prepared to go into a lot of debt. Finally, I found the financing after filming.

What, in your view, are the critical factors that contribute to the creation of a cinematic masterpiece?

We’re talking magic here, I guess it’s all about the director’s artistic ambition. From The Kid to 2001, from The Firemen’s Ball to Under the Skin or Running on Empty or Closely watched trains, Snow therapy, Blow up,… what’s the secret? Hard work, sensitivity, intuition, the sense of the times… ?

If you could revisit the inception of your career, are there any aspects or decisions you would choose to alter in hindsight?

Oh yes! I only considered the artistic aspects of the projects without understanding the ‘industry’ aspect. It would have been better if I’d learnt the rules of the production game from the start… Now that I produce my own films, I’ve made up for it a bit.
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