Zoltán Fehér and his friend Costa Marcell joined the project in 2017, and the process was preceded by several months of research work, in which a map of Hungary’s environment had to be made so that staff could provide as comprehensive a picture of Hungary’s waters as possible.
The film was voiced by narrator Peter Forgax and literally shows “Land of Water”. From the swampy world of Kis-Balaton to the pristine humid forests of Aggtelek National Park to the underwater jungle of Lake Hévíz, the camera has rotated in dozens of locations to show viewers the hitherto unknown faces of the landscape.
Zoltán Fehér was not chosen, he is not exceptional: a feature of the Hungarian nature films is that they are grouped around a single species, yet the director chose water as an element rather than a specific living creature as the main character of the work. (So the spotted salamander, European otters, and golden jackals receive special attention.)
All three animals are iconic, as such. There are legends about salamander venom, although this is a misconception, because the salamander is no more toxic than a frog. Otters have a large population in the sack Balaton, one of the most important animals in our wild waters. Through the film I wanted to draw attention to the fragility of our wild waters, that even the slightest human intervention can cause disasters in the wild. Climate change, emergence of invasive species, and more.
The richness of detail and diverse wildlife is immediately available, as the camera has been rotated in 27 locations and nearly 50 hours of raw materials have been created.
This is the kind where raw materials have to be collected for months or even years and will turn into a story, but not necessarily as we envisioned or as written in the text.
The film director said.
According to Zoltán, who studied to be a feature cinematographer, nature film reflects a kind of intermediate state, forming a transition between documentaries and feature films. We’re talking about a movie based on facts, but the dramatic elements, characters, and potential character developments observed in the behavior of the animals actually direct the work toward feature films.
The works for him were cut short with a day’s shooting, so at first only short films were made, in the end more and more shots were recorded, and the film was slowly assembled on its own. (Well, not because the subject matter was introduced, but the short films served as some of the scenes. Zoltán has been drawn to water and wildlife all his life, so he consciously pulled the film to review the wild waters.)
Filming a nature film is not necessarily a successful project, as one cannot affect one’s environment. Shooting is a repository of unexpected events, the presence of all kinds of animals in the film – catching the lens – was a surprise and a gift for the crew.
Modern technology has allowed them to operate in the twilight, even after dark, so they were able to record the normal behavior of evening “cheerful” otters, for example. A few centimeters of baby salamanders are shown in shots and scenic spots in aerial shots.
(Cover Image: Aqua Hungarica)