At the end of 2014, the director Harald Pokieser produced a documentary about the internationally successful Norwegian model Alexandra Ørbeck-Nilssen for Terra Mater Factual Studios. Alexandra moved back and forth between London and New York for years – until she finally had enough of life in the big city and travelled to Namibia to get to know the Bushmen tribe.
The “Making Of” of this documentary was uploaded on the Cosmos Factory YouTube channel and has achieved more than one million visits. “The Model and the Bushmen – Behind the Scenes” is five-and-a-half minutes long, and our YouTube channel currently has around 2900 subscribers.
The Austrian Federal Forests (Österreichische Bundesforste, ÖBf) have provided insights into the everyday lives of their staff among Austria’s forests, mountains, lakes, meadows and wild animals since the end of 2017. The concept and realisation of the channel was developed in co-operation with Cosmos Factory. What makes this project unique is that the staff members, including rangers, professional hunters, biologists and nature guides, do the filming themselves, using their own phones and cameras. “They see things most visitors to the forest never see, and we want to make these experiences available to everybody with an interest in nature,” says the director of Austrian Federal Forests, Rudolf Freidhager. Manfred Christ taught the staff the basic rules of film-making in workshops, then used the material filmed to produce a series of clips between 40 and 90 seconds long. The result is both authentic and fascinating, and provides an unusual perspective of Austria’s nature and wildlife.
Shortly before Christmas, our documentary “Leopard Rocks” about India’s Rajasthan region was broadcast in Austria.
The leopards are now making their way to the U.S.A., where the Smithsonian Channel will be broadcasting our documentary in spring. The renowned science channel was one of the co-producers of the film, along with Terra Mater Factual Studios.
The German-language version of our film about the moon premiered on the 13. December 2017 as part of Servus TV’s “Terra Mater” documentary series. “The Moon – Our Gateway to the Universe” tells the story of lunar exploration and examines the fascinating discoveries made in recent years.
Five internationally renowned, passionate and entertaining scientists from the U.S.A., Germany, France and Russia provide a running commentary of events from the first probe to successfully land on the surface to the incredible discovery that there is actually water on the moon.
In southern Spain, an aerospace engineer demonstrates that it is possible to produce oxygen from lunar rock using solar power. This could, potentially, provide a sustainable source of air for astronauts in future.
The space travellers could find shelter in newly-discovered cave systems, ancient remnants of a time when the moon experienced volcanic activity. The moon will undoubtedly be the launch pad for future space exploration.
The team’s headquarters
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano on the border between Uganda and Kenya. Director Harald Pokieser and his camera team spent two weeks filming here in challenging conditions. As Pokieser explains, “We thought that filming the gorillas in Bwindi would be the most difficult part of the film. We were wrong. Filming the elephants on this densely overgrown mountain was far more challenging. You sweat constantly while climbing up and down, and at night you freeze in your tent.” Without a doubt, the team’s exertions were worth it. In fact, using automatic 4K cameras, they were even able to capture female elephants and their calves entering caves at night in order to lick the salt from the cave walls. Filming also took place in other parts of Uganda, and the team returned to Vienna in mid-September.
20 years ago, the venerable “Österreichischen Bundesforste” or Austrian Federal Forest service was transformed into a stock corporation fully owned by the Austrian government. Since 1997, the forestry service has become a modern company with responsibilities far beyond conventional forestry. The anniversary of this change was celebrated on 11. September 2017 at Eckartsau Castle on the Danube east of Vienna. The central element of the event was a 16-minute film of historical footage unearthed from the archives of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation and enthusiastically edited by director Manfred Christ. It provides a detailed history of the forestry service from 1970 until 2016. Graphics and editing: Jörg Achatz, Colour Correction: Lee Niederkofler, Audio Post-production: Florian Deutsch.
In the last decade, scientists have made many fascinating new discoveries about the moon. This is largely due to the modern, highly-sensitive sensors that circle it, and the technical advances that have made it possible to sift through all the data that was collected by the Apollo program prior to 1972.
There is water on the moon, it quakes, there are subterranean volcanoes, its core is solid metal surrounded by a hot, liquid layer of metals and sulphur. In some places, the moon has magnetic fields which could protect a moon base from the solar wind. In fact, one could even potentially establish such a base below the surface, in recently discovered lava tubes and pits.
Manfred Christ has worked his way through hundreds of scientific reports and visited several lunar research conferences, and is now producing a 52-minute documentary, “All about the Moon”, for Terra Mater Factual Studios. The film will contain new animations and rare archive footage, as well as a series of very personal interviews with experts from Germany, France, Russia and the U.S.A. It will be completed in November 2017.
The first filming for the “Wild Uganda” documentary in July 2017 took Harald Pokieser and his team on a visit to the mountain gorillas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Fortunately, the rainforest is not as inaccessible as the name might suggest, but filming was nonetheless challenging. However, it was worth it: the team returned with breathtaking footage of the everyday life of a group of gorillas.
For the first time, the mountain gorillas have been captured on film climbing high up into the trees.
From summer 2017, the Cosmos Factory camera teams will be in Uganda as part of a new documentary on the country’s fascinating, diverse landscapes, from the savannahs and swamps in the east and tropical rainforests in the west and south to the 5,000-metre-high snow-covered peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Uganda’s animal inhabitants include mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, large herds of elephants, giraffes and antelopes, as well as thousands of rhinos and tree-climbing lions. Written and directed by Harald Pokieser, commissioned by Terra Mater Factual Studios.
The female leopard Nelam with baby Magdalena
Filming for the Terra Mater Production “The Leopard Rocks” in India’s Rajasthan province: four weeks, two camera crews, 300 kilos of equipment, five rock faces, a dozen leopards. A letter from the director Harald Pokieser: “Things here are pretty exhausting (monotonous and occasionally bad food, constant power failures etc.), but it is worth it and all I can say is: a resounding success. We have rare footage of the leopards, as well as other animals you don’t often see in nature documentaries. Even the camera traps work as planned.”