In 1993, filmmaker Martin Lisius was just completing a series of severe weather related programs he produced and directed for TV when he began receiving phone calls from other producers needing storm footage for their own productions. It was then that he decided to create StormStock, a collection of cinematic quality weather footage licensed for use in commercials, documentaries, and feature films worldwide. “StormStock is unique among stock footage sources in many ways,” Lisius said. “First, StormStock is not a company, it is a brand and collection of Prairie Pictures, a Texas-based media production group. We shoot our own material and license it directly to clients. It allows us to maintain the quality from start to finish. Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.”
Lisius and his team of photographers capture hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards and other storms using premium formats including HD, 4K, Super 35mm motion picture film, and even 16K. “Shooting on film and 16K presents additional challenges, but the results are magnificent. There are a lot of places to find ‘just weather’ footage. We know that and work hard to offer something unique,” he said.
Some of the hallmarks of StormStock include the largest collection of tornadoes on Super 35mm, the only HD footage in the world of Hurricane Katrina making landfall, and extensive footage of Hurricane Harvey shot from land, air and water.
Lisius, also a veteran storm chaser of 30 years, is sometimes asked about his fear of storms. “I’m not afraid of storms, I love them. I’ve always been fascinated by severe weather growing up in Texas, the only state that experiences tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards. But, I have a deep respect for nature and am very careful when I’m out there.”
Besides shooting and licensing footage, Lisius has been involved in some unique projects including a TV commercial for Chevy Trucks titled, “Storm Chaser” (Campbell-Ewald Agency) in which he appears, alongside his Super 35mm material. He was a technical advisor for the Warner Bros. box office hit “Twister” (1996), appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” and was hired by the Salvation Army (Richards Group) to intercept Hurricane Gustav in Mississippi. “They said I was the only person they trusted to do it without dying,” Lisius said.
In addition to staying safe around storms, the team faces some unusual shooting challenges when they are in the field. To that end, they’ve developed wind resistant microphones, customized rain coat systems to protect cameras, and have invested in dust-removal tools. “Our Giotto Rocket Blasters are the single most used piece of gear in our office,” Lisius said. “No telling how many tons of dust and debris we’ve removed from our equipment over the past 25 years.”
Footage captured by the StormStock team has appeared in thousands of television programs, commercials, museum exhibits, music videos and feature films including “Lucy,” “The Giver,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The Current War,” “Cinderella,” “The Avengers,” and Terrence Malick’s“Voyage of Time.”
“Producers and directors who are committed to quality come to us because they know what we have is the very best, and they know it will add a measurable amount of quality to their productions,” Lisius said.
As StormStock enters its second quarter century, new and exciting opportunities await. “We are always looking for fresh ways to capture the weather, to bring it to the viewer so they can experience something close to what we see and feel inside a storm,” Lisius said. “Right now, our 16K-shot material offers detail that has rarely been seen before. It’s pretty amazing, but so is the beauty of film, an aesthetic that has been around for a long time.”