Terra Mater Studios Puts the Natural World on Display

Mar 15th, 2023

Terra Mater Studios continues to produce premium natural history, science and history programming, with a focus on the animals, landscapes, natural wonders and ecological issues of the world around us. “The viewer’s interest in our planet’s changing climate and its effects is on the rise, and we try to cater to that by developing solution-based stories, among others, the six-parter Future Home, mega-blue-chip series Degrees of Life and Healthy Cities—More Than Human,” says Sabine Holzer, head of specialist factual. 

The company has been expanding co-productions with new partners as of late. It is producing the natural history doc Big Cats, Small World with Blue Ant Media (in addition to established partner WNET) and is discussing further projects with them. It is also finishing its first co-production with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios (and established partner WNET), Treasure of the Caribbean, which will premiere on PBS Nature in late April around Earth Day, and they are already looking forward to their next joint project, Jaguar Beach

“Putting conservation in the spotlight is tricky but absolutely worth it,” says Holzer. “Eyes of the Orangutan was met with great success and emotional reactions from the audience, particularly at the recent charity screening at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The same charismatic team is already busy with our follow-up project, Felines—Our Fatal Attraction, in which environmental photojournalist Aaron Gekoski looks deeper into our (problematic?) relationship with big cats.” 

With regard to fresh highlights, Terra Mater Studios is presenting Future Home, a six-parter that was part of the Sunny Side 2023 Global Pitching Session. Based on pioneering research and designs, it is the first series to explore new structures designed by a diverse range of architects to withstand mother nature’s most powerful forces: flood, fire, ice, wind, quakes and air. “This project is big, and we’ll not only explore technical limits but intend to go way beyond them,” says Holzer. “Our goal is to create a cinematic experience of landscapes and extreme weather systems worthy of visual grandeur. Both Terra Mater Studios and Amberjack Films are very passionate about this topic, and we’re currently looking for further co-financing partners.” 

The two-parter The Philippines looks at the country’s biodiversity, which is considered one of the greatest in the world. However, rising sea levels once again threaten to significantly alter the face of the region, with far-reaching consequences for people, flora and fauna. Terra Mater Studios is looking for co-production partners on the project. 

For Raptors—A Fistful of Daggers, Terra Mater Studios teamed up with Matt Hamilton, with whom it has produced many multi-awarded projects in the past. In the two-parter, Hamilton travels around the globe to tell the story of raptors’ unparalleled success. Thirteen Productions/WNET are already on board, and Terra Mater Studios is encouraging anyone interested in joining this project to get in touch quickly. 

Filmmaker Owen Prümm and Terra Mater Studios have worked together on major projects in the past: The Lions Rule and The Bastard King. Their latest collaboration is Katavi, which Holzer says is big, ambitious and an allegorical tale so grand it’s hard to put into words. The spectacle centers on Katavi National Park in southern Tanzania, where the powerful tribes of lions, hippos and crocodiles struggle for survival, defending their turf from intruders. Terra Mater Studios is teaming up again with Shibumi Films. There is already strong interest from U.S. and German partners, and further co-producers are being sought. 

Also for MIPTV, there are Penguin Baywatch, which balances serious scientific research and lighthearted humor, and Game of Moons, an exploration of space science. 

In line with its productions that shine a light on the natural world, Terra Mater Studios has been on the path to sustainability for several years. In addition to setting a reduction target for corporate emissions, all of the company’s films produced from 2022 onward are subject to strict, self-imposed green-producing regulations. It is also compiling green guidelines for every production, in line with international criteria. From 2022, these are mandatory for its partners as well. Impact producing and green storytelling continues to be a topic of major importance for Terra Mater Studios, which is reducing its own footprint by working with and exploring its archive while also opening this possibility to external partners, licensing footage to them. 

While Terra Mater Studios’ foundations lie in premium specialist factual programming, over the last decade, the company has branched out, with scripted and formats part of offerings. As the company’s slate continues to grow, Terra Mater Studios remains open to collaborating with new co-production partners, Holzer affirms. “We also welcome original ideas from producers who share our passion for creating compelling content,” she adds.

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