CLIMBER BLOG: Rachel Morrison
Why I joined SOTSK
It started with a text from Justin Wilkes from Radical Media asking me if I liked hiking. Cut to 3 weeks later: climbing up Kilimanjaro. I had absolutely no experience hiking or mountain climbing before this but am always up for an adventure.
I’ve been shooting for 8 years…everything from narrative to documentaries. For me it’s always about the story and I’m always most drawn to things that have a message and make you care and feel.
As if the climb itself wasn’t tough enough, we had the extra job of getting ahead of the cast in order to film them, and at other times retrace our steps in order to cover them from behind. And the weather was miserable. I felt like the mountain existed by Murphy’s Law. If I took clothing off, it got cold and rained. If I put extra gear on, the sun came out and I overheated.
This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience with an amazing group of people. I feel absolutely honored to have played some small part in Kenna’s vision - and hope more than anything that the film can help raise awareness, money, and support for a phenomenal cause.
I shot on a combo of the Sony EX3 and the Canon Mark II 5D with a 28mm lens which was kind of liberating because I haven’t shot with a prime lens in years. The Mark II was amazing in low light. We were trying to keep it lightweight and low profile so I didn’t bring my handheld rig, matte box or follow focus. But as a result, there was no good way to compensate in bright sun so I wound up shooting it at a faster shutter speed than I would’ve liked. But at night and in the pouring rain and snow it was unbeatable.
- Rachel Morrison
CLIMBER BLOG: Bill Winters
Why I joined SOTSK
I got involved as a DP for SOTSK through my friend Justin Wilkes who was one of the executive producers of the MTV documentary for @radical.media. Justin and I went to film school together and he knew that I am a lover of the outdoors as well as an avid mountain biker and cinematographer. This project is very unique because it combines all of my passions. I expected it to be difficult from both a physical and technical standpoint, but I never expected to learn just how dire the clean water situation is in Africa. I always knew the water situation in Africa was problematic, but actually going to villages where women have to walk 6 hours a day to get to a water source was absolutely shocking. Here in America we take it for granted that we have clean water endlessly flowing from our sinks and showers. It was an eye opening experience that I want to share with people back home through cinematography. The more people that are aware of this problem, the better chance we have of solving it.
- Bill Winters
Bill’s local papers — LoHud.com & The Harrison Report — wrote articles about him as well.
CLIMBER BLOG: Michael Bonfiglio
Why I joined SOTSK
I ended up on Kilimanjaro after Kenna, the SOTSK team, and MTV contacted @radical.media, the company I work for, to create a film to document the expedition. I’d never climbed a mountain before, but after hearing about the project, I knew that whether I made it to the top or not, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.
Climbing Kilimanjaro while making a film about the experience at the same time was unbelievably challenging (and given the ridiculously tight schedule we had for both shooting and editing, some might say it was insane). At any given time on the mountain, at least one of us on the film crew was sick and/or miserable, but everyone on our team showed an incredible amount of heart and dedication, maintaining great attitudes and capturing beautiful footage no matter what Kilimanjaro threw our way.
The climbers were extraordinary as well, allowing us complete access to their experiences and embracing us fully as members of their team. No matter how difficult things got, no one ever got irritated or scared about being filmed – even when they knew full well that what we were shooting was quite different from the polished images their fans are accustomed to seeing.
Without the incredible contributions and talents of any individual member of the team, our whole endeavor might have been an utter failure. Instead, we worked together and created something that we are all truly proud to share with the world. One of the things we all took away from this climb is that we can only accomplish so much as individuals, but when we work together anything is possible. This couldn’t be truer of the filmmaking experience. We hope that everyone who sees see the documentary “Summit on the Summit” gets as much out of our adventure as we did.
- Michael Bonfiglio
Director, “Summit on the Summit” Documentary
CLIMBER BLOG: Justin Wilkes
Why I joined SOTSK
Climbing Kilimanjaro was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, mentally and emotionally. And filming our adventure brought new meaning to our various job descriptions in a way no other project has before. To say that it was a once in a lifetime experience would be an understatement. It will be something that all of us will cherish and remember for a long time…and for me personally…I’m just grateful that we were asked to play a role in spreading the message of global clean water, off of the mountain and beyond through our film.
Chris Weil said it best at the NY premiere this past week – Kenna was the Pied Piper and we gladly followed him to one of the highest points on the planet to support and document a cause near and dear to all of our hearts. And the incredible thing that we all realized along the way was that none of us could have done it alone. It was because we were a group of actors, musicians, experts, activists, producers, directors, cinematographers, sound recordists, editors, guides and porters…that every single one of us made it to the top. Something that’s never been accomplished in a group of that size on any notable mountain…anywhere…any time. Coincidence? I think not.
That’s the power of Kenna.
Thanks to everyone from SOTS, MTV, P&G, HP, Microsoft, First Ascent and Thomson Safaris for an adventure of a lifetime. And of course to our incredible crew, who not only climbed but had to work the entire way up (and down).
On behalf of the filmmaking team, I hope everyone finds as much inspiration from the documentary as we have had making it.
- Justin Wilkes
Producer, “Summit on the Summit” Documentary