Branded Terrain Reaches New Heights

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By Kent Harvey

May 2012 / Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal / Day 44 / 5am / 20 degrees Fahrenheit:

I wake up on cue in my tent at Everest base camp, 17,500 feet, perched on the lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier, frost coating the ceiling of the tent as a result of my evening's respirations. I wake up early, like nearly all mornings, in an attempt to check emails while taking advantage of the limited 3G cell service bandwidth reaching Everest base camp.

It's day 44 living on Mount Everest where I'm directing and shooting an ongoing branding camping and documentary for a major outdoor apparel company. I'm not at liberty to name the company but the project is part of an ongoing branding campaign representing a relatively new technical outerwear line used in adventure sports.

Time here is spent between shooting interviews, sequences and b-roll of the athletes and associated stories to the brand-based documentary, shooting stills, climbing, acclimatizing and filming to higher camps on the mountain all in an effort to prepare for a summit bid as well as finally finding time to simply rest at base camp.

This job, like other jobs I've done in recent years, is an example of what I'd call the new production paradigm. I am here, directing and shooting solo, taking advantage of the now, not-so-new, lightweight DSLR technology and digital audio capture methods. Everest is certainly not an environment that will accommodate a "typical" crew nor even individuals who don't have at least some experience working in this environment.

In all I will spend nearly 70 days here in Nepal including a 12-day/38-mile hike into base camp and a three-day, same 38-mile hike out of base camp. In total I will spend nearly 50 days on Mount Everest. At this point we are nearing in on the final three weeks of the climb and shoot. Members of our expedition and I are currently resting at base camp waiting for a bit more snow to fall on the upper reaches of the mountain to help improve climbing conditions. Additionally we are waiting for the jet stream winds to move off the summit of Everest as the monsoon moves into Asia off of the Bay of Bengal. This particular meteorological event is what will ultimately allow the opportunity for climbing teams to make a final summit push. With certain luck, skill and a lot of work I will hopefully be shooting on the top of the world in the next couple of weeks.

It's extraordinary–both in beauty and in effort. Being here is challenging on so many levels, but with it comes a true appreciation for doing something rare. Then, in an instant, I am back to cursing cell service and the hassle of typing on an iPad. Just like I do back home.

Kent Harvey is a director with kaboom, L.A. and San Francisco. He joined kaboom earlier this year, marking his first signing with a national production house. Previously he worked independently on ad assignments and with companies on a per-project basis. Over the years, he's established a reputation for action/lifestyle work. His experience filming on Mt. Everest, Mount Vinson, Aconcagua, Elburs, Denali, Kilimanjaro as well as locales in Antarctica, Asia, and South America has given him a broad worldview with a human perspective.