03. May 2017

The Mothership

Concert films and music videos from the Adlershof Media City

The two video professionals Frank Machel (l.) and Markus Mörtz in their studio in Adlershof
Back when he was in school, Markus Mörtz used to hand in presentations on video. This passion for photography and moving images was handed down from his father, Frank Machel, who was likewise infected with the “movie virus” by his own family – an uncle who made concert movies. Today, Mörtz and Machel are the “mothership” of a large family of musicians and artists, who they produce concert movies and music videos for. They go on tour with bands like “Silbermond” and have recorded concerts for the German rapper “Bushido”, the avantgarde pop duo “Ich & Ich”, and the vocal force of nature “Florence + the Machine” from Britain. Markus Mörtz and Frank Machel have their studio “Mothership Film” (“Mutterschiff Film”) in the same venerable rooms that where home to GDR radio before the Wall came down, and the Berlin-based pop band “Bell, Book & Candle” recorded their hit “Rescue Me” after the Wall came down. They record concerts, live music, TV programmes and webisodes – from the script to the final cut. The company is called “mothership” for a reason. Over the years, their long-standing relationship with numerous artists and partners have grown into friendships. “We are an old spaceship, a mothership, where people enjoy coming together, like a family reunion. The human factor is very important,” says Mörtz, “when you go on tour together, you are stuck in one place for days.” They first met working at PH-Wert, a Berlin-based recording company for live music and sports events. They both like to reminisce about those times. Both say that they learned a lot. From people like the multi-award-winning director Russel Thomas, who back then worked with artists such as Beyoncé, Robbie Williams and Kate Perry. One of their projects let them travel to Dubai, where a moneyed real estate developer decided to give his wives a rock festival as a birthday present. It was planned to record the “Dubai Desert Rock Festival”. This was exciting for Machel, who is a heavy metal fan and musician in various bands himself. The line-up featured “only the very best”, he says, including Muse and Iron Maiden. “They had no interest in starting small,” remembers Mörtz. The DVD of the festival, however, was never released. Their customers did not deal with the copyright issues. When business started slacking, Frank Machel and Markus Mörtz started their “Mothership” from the ground up. They laugh: “We went straight from qualification to self-employment.” Their work is not always easy. Every musician is different. Some have trust in the abilities and creativity of the duo and give them space and freedom, while others have very detailed ideas of their own. The more people are involved, the more difficult it gets. Dealing with such situations requires tact. “Too many cooks,” says Machel, “but we identify as professionals providing a service.”  So far, the balancing act has been successful. They are going on tour with Silbermond in summer and heavy-metal fan Machel is looking forward to the “With Full Force Festival”, which has been recorded by the Mothership for a long time. “We are actually from the metal swamps,” Machel quips, “and only recently steered into more mainstream waters.” The “Dark Tenor” might be the perfect blend. Rock and pop meets classical music – an American tenor, who performs dresses in a style reminiscent of “Game of Thrones” and “Assassin’s Creed” and combines popular melodies from operas and symphonies with pop music. “They gave us total freedom and we were a part of the project from the very beginning,” says Markus Mörtz, “we have created films, trailers and webisodes and recorded in the Malzfabrik in Berlin.” Now his family band is planning a comeback. “That will be something completely different,” says Machel, but he can’t reveal any more just yet. By Rico Bigelmann for Adlershof