Our Trip To Kenya / by Zack McDowell

It’s Monday, the fog of jetlag has subsided and we’re back in the New York office catching up on all that we’ve missed while out of the country. Over the past couple of weeks we have done a lot of traveling while creating some remarkable videos for a non-profit organization, Empower Dreams, that is working to fund a waterline project in the Rift Valley Area. This water is said to service a world-class school that is sure to radically change this region. It’s been amazing to see all the challenges that the folks in the town of Mai Mahiu have been tirelessly working through to create a better live for themselves and their community. Needless to say it was an incredible opportunity to participate and capture this amazing story that is continually unfolding.

LensRentals.com was great partner in this trip. We have used them several times over the past couple of years but when we told them what we were working on they were extremely helpful in setting us up with the gear we needed. We captured footage from this trip using the Sony Fs7 and Sony A7s. The dynamic range and high frame rate made it a perfect match for all the dreamy inspirational footage we were looking to get. We also rented a Movi M10, which has surprising become a workhorse for us. Every time we rent one of these we are blown away by its capabilities. This trip we pushed its ability is by using it as stabilizer during a bike-riding scene. Looking through the footage it’s pretty impressive what it was able to handle. While some view the Movi as a toy, it has been eye opening to see how it changes the way we shoot - really causing us to get into the action from a first person perspective oppose to shooting a scene as a passive viewer.

We had a small but mighty crew this trip. Zack McDowell directed while Nick Sherman acted as the Director of Photography. He did a phenomenal job really pushing what could be visually accomplished out in rural Kenya. We had a great driver that turned out to be an aspiring gaffer. Through out the trip Victor was great set of hands and eyes while keeping out of danger. Lana Adams was sent from the Empower Dreams Marketing team. She photographed the entire trip, helped keep us inspired, and made sure we started each day with a smile. Megan Haynes was our on the ground producer which was imperative to coordinate all fluctuating details and schedules throughout the two weeks. Paul Staudacher, founder of Empower Dreams, joined us half way through the trip. He was a great client to work for as he helped build expectations then allowed room for creative freedom. With a small crew it’s important that everyone has a team spirit and has creative synergy. This crew defiantly hit both marks consecutively.

This was Zack’s third time traveling back to this area and it seems that each time he goes new relationships are formed. Mary is the principle of Cornerstone Academy, the school receiving the waterline, and she was monumental to the production of these videos. Acting as a translator and assistant director, her level of leadership and wisdom was truly motivating. We could go on for days for how much of an impact she had on uplifting our spirits for those two weeks but for now we will say that she is truly a lifetime friend of Dugud. While there, we spent sometime with a group of people that have been displaced from their homes after the 2008 Post Election Violence. Their settlement called Mwi’ Hungiri translates to “a people who fend for themselves”. Their stories while vast, all captured the triumph of the human sprit and just how far a community will go to thrive through opposition. While we didn’t have enough time to shoot a video dedicated to them they will be on our hearts for many years to come.

Currently, we are in the trenches of post but we look forward to sharing these inspirational videos mid-November. In the meantime, check out the rest of our pictures from our trip below. If you are looking to donate or get involved with what is going on in the Rift Valley head over to EmpowerDreams.org and learn more about the great work those guys are doing.