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'Cosmos' producers shoot footage near Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area

Coby Greenberg, second unit director of Cosmos Production, frames a shot Monday during filming in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin ...more
Coby Greenberg, second unit director of Cosmos Production, frames a shot Monday during filming in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area south of Farmington.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Story highlights

  • Several other filmmakers and photographers have used Four Corners BLM land as sets
  • "Cosmos" is a TV mini-series hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Filmmakers could not reveal what the Bisti footage would be used for in the second season of "Cosmos
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The science documentary TV series 'Cosmos: Possible Worlds' is expected to be released in 2019.

FARMINGTON — A Santa Fe-based aerial film company was in the Four Corners area this week taking footage for a second season of the science documentary TV series “Cosmos.”

Several members of Enchantment Aerials and of the “Cosmos” production crew spent the morning and evening "golden hours" of Monday and Tuesday near the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area south of Farmington.

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Coby Greenberg, second-unit director for the production company Cosmos Studios, said the crew of about 10 filmmakers was filming “reference material of interesting geology and geologic forms” for the production, including drone footage and stills.

“Cosmos” is TV mini-series that explores scientific concepts like space, time, dimensions, life on earth and the expansion of the universe. The original 1980 series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” was hosted by astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan, according to the Guardian.

In 2014, the series was revived after Sagan’s death by the original co-writer and Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan, astrophysicist Steven Soter, astrophysicist and host Neil deGrasse Tyson, and executive producer Seth MacFarlane, the Guardian reported in 2014.

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“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” was released by Fox and the National Geographic Channel in the spring of 2014, and entertainment news magazine Variety reported in early January that Fox and National Geographic announced a second series of “Cosmos” during the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

Crew members from the Cosmos Production crew and Enchantment Aerials work on a film project Monday ...more
Crew members from the Cosmos Production crew and Enchantment Aerials work on a film project Monday in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area south of Farmington.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Greenberg said the new series, titled “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” is expected to be released in the spring of 2019, and that the Bisti footage will “possibly” be used to illustrate “possible worlds,” adding that the crew is limited on what it can share about the production.

The crew spent Monday and Tuesday evenings and Tuesday morning filming on Bureau of Land Management land near the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

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BLM realty specialist Tammy Faust said the BLM typically doesn’t allow commercial filming in the protected wilderness area itself, but the “Cosmos” filmmakers received a special permit to film on BLM land across the road from the wilderness area that has similar geologic features.

Faust said film crews are accompanied by a BLM staff member to ensure filming does not negatively affect the environment.

“We want it to be the same beautiful area that they came into,” Faust said at the site on Monday, adding that “we don’t want any of this geology changing at all.”

Carlos Sanchez, a crew member with the "Cosmos" production crew, stands in for a shot framed by a ...more
Carlos Sanchez, a crew member with the "Cosmos" production crew, stands in for a shot framed by a drone Monday in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area south of Farmington.
Jon Austria/The Daily Times

Faust said the BLM’s Farmington Field Office typically processes one or two special photography or film permit requests a year. She said ESPN had a photo shoot near the Bisti Badlands in 2017 with MMA fighter Michelle Waterson for the magazine’s “Body Issue.”

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Other similar film or photo shoots in the Bisti area include a 2010 episode of "Stargate Universe," and a 2012 documentary called “Voyage of Time,” according to BLM spokesman Zach Stone.

Production crews for the BBC, Discovery Channel and Travel Channel, as well as independent documentaries, have applied for and received filming permits on BLM land managed by the Farmington office, Stone said.

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Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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