Article Overview

Where the Wild Animals Live

Only four days ago the polar bear cubs have left their birth hole with their mother for the first time

The cinematographer, animal documentary maker and adventurer Andreas Kieling filmed polar bears in their natural environment in Spitsbergen for weeks. In the process, he successfully shot unique and amazing footage. The filming of the documentary north of the Arctic circle demanded high standards of man and technology.

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Andreas Kieling from Germany is a forest ranger, a photographer and a cameraman. Above all, however, he is an adventurer. Being fascinated by animals, he travels to the most outlying regions of the world in order to trace endangered species. His clients, like the National Geographic Channel, BBC, and the German public-service broadcasters ARD and ZDF, are glad that he does so, as Andreas Kieling is always as close as possible to the action.

He has dived with a grizzly bear and was the first one to shoot polar bears copulating. “The polar bears where a considerable help when it came to establishing myself as a wildlife filmmaker. I was able to shoot scenes no one else had before me, like for example interactions between sled dogs and polar bears as well as polar bears swimming in icy water, breaking through a sheet of ice and surfacing afterwards. The editors were deeply impressed when they got to see that material”, says Andreas Kieling.

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Without a safety net

The documentary filmmaker delivers pictures that tell a special story. A feeling for nature and the absolute intention to get close to the animals – that sometimes takes months – are Andreas Kieling’s important character traits. Being always in search for new perspectives for the audience, he manages to shoot exceptional, surprising and thrilling scenes. When shooting in outlying regions, he needs to be able to fully rely on his equipment. “In the wilderness I cannot afford a technical failure. The knowledge that I can absolutely rely on the equipment makes me feel secure. There is also the question if the animals playing along; but that is another topic”, says the nature filmmaker. Also, his equipment must not be too heavy. “I have to reduce the weight load. That means, if I do not pack a compact tripod and a small camera, I will not even reach the top of the mountain where the gorilla lives. Sachtler’s Speed Lock tripod is great; it is ready to shoot in no time and is very precise. All together, I carry about 35 kilos (77 lb).”

Adventurous and authentic

During most of his expeditions Andreas Kieling travels with a team of only three, including a second cinematographer, who shoots Kieling when getting the animals on camera, and another crew member for the sound. “I want to arouse people’s interest in nature, to take the audience by the hand and kindle their interest in the fact that nature is worth protecting”, the cinematographer explains his incentive. For his documentaries he works under extreme conditions. Sand storms, frost, oppressive heat or freezing cold are not uncommon. “Sachtler heads are very robust, even in extreme temperature areas. At -52°C (-62.6°F) a man is at his limit. When shooting under extreme conditions, I do rely on Sachtler.”

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Sachtler

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