The show’s intent is to “help television viewers gain an insight into the daily life of Longyearbyen” – but in this instance it may be a look at the last workers in a century-old way of life that is rapidly dying out.
A 10-episode reality show titled “Kompani Spitsbergen” is scheduled to debut on TV2 Nov. 27, with a free local advance screening of the first episode scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Huset.
“In the series we follow a tight group of miners,” a press release for the series notes. “They have different backgrounds, motivations, dreams and challenges both during the working day and in private. Each of them has a story – a story about what led them to Svalbard as miners.”
“We get to know a small group of people, where good friendship and loyalty can really mean the difference between life and death. The miners share their weekdays with hobbies, adventure, polar bears, friendship, girlfriends and heartbreak.”
Seven miners are featured, ranging from mine manager Per Nilssen, 50, (“knowing that the coal industry in Norway is facing an uncertain future, Per tries to keep the motivation of his workers up”) to “green helmet” rookie Adrian, 26, (“he left his girlfriend in Drammen for excitement as a miner and we will follow his first trip into the mine”).
The series was filmed and produced during a period of several months by Novemberfilm. Geir Kreken, director of the series, told Svalbardposten there were numerous technical challenges filming the miners at work.
“It was cramped, dark, dusty and technically demanding to film,” he said. “We had to develop some clever solutions where we wrapped a camera in plastic wrap to protect against the coal dust. It actually went surprisingly well. A mine is a demanding environment for the equipment and those who work there.”
Those working at Mine 7 – a relatively small group of a few dozen people, compared to the hundreds that worked larger Norwegian-owned mines in Svalbard before they were permanently shut down recently – have been the subject of numerous media articles and short documentary films during the past few years. There have also been numerous requests by TV and other filmmakers for a more in-depth project, but Nilssen told Svalbardposten the concept pitched by other companies didn’t ring true.
“The reason we chose to say yes to Novemberfilm and TV2 was, first of all, that we were sure they would tell our story as we experience it,” he said. “We have had the impression that some other TV companies we have had contact with wanted to produce mining as something extremely dangerous and play up the safety aspects of the profession.”