SA Icelandic reality series


Founder and executive producer of Cooked in Africa Films, Justin Bonello, has partnered with extreme adventurer, Riaan Manser, to produce a 13-part reality TV documentary entitled Around Iceland on Inspiration, that will see Manser kayak around the 4,800 km circumference of Iceland between March and July 2011.

This is Cooked in Africa Films’ second foray into the documentary genre. Bonello, who has produced and presented several successful international lifestyle television series, is excited about the partnership with Manser.

“Reality filmmaking combined with converging traditional and new media platforms has stimulated new models of independent production and distribution,’ says Bonello. “Riaan is fast establishing himself as an internationally respected adventurer, with a strong following in the explorer category. Our partnership allows us to bring his daring exploits to a global TV audience and beyond, via multi-dimensional media platforms.

“While Riaan’s adventures have been documented in the past, this will be the first time that the expedition will be accompanied by a professional TV crew, with each member becoming a character on the show and providing an entertaining back-story to the Series’ physical challenges.’

Manser adds: “I feel privileged to be working with such a talented bunch of people, and am truly excited about the potential our collaboration represents. Around Iceland on Inspiration is my first non-African international expedition and part of a much bigger international adventure TV series that we’re working on, which includes a TV documentary of my 2009 Madagascar expedition with previously unseen footage,’ he says.

In addition to setting new benchmarks in adventure travel, Manser, who is supported by Windhoek Lager and Lucozade, has also authored two best selling books about his adventures. Windhoek Lager supported his last world record when he became the first person to kayak 5000km around Madagascar alone and unaided, and continues its support for the Iceland trip, which represents Manser’s third expedition, and sees him mentoring and supporting an unlikely partner: 30-year-old University of Cape Town law student and cerebral palsy sufferer, Daniel Skinstad.

Cooked in Africa Cameraman Darren Illet, who has filmed over 40 episodes across a number of Cooked in Africa’s reality TV series, is pragmatic about the production’s logistical challenges.

“While Iceland remains one of the most visually exciting places in the world,’ he says, “the expedition starts at the tail end of winter, which is particularly cold and requires us to film in temperatures ranging from -5 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius. While we’ve shot in these conditions in Lesotho before, we’ve never been exposed to these temperature extremes for months at a time. However, we’re using a combination of Sony Prosumer and consumer cameras, including cameras from the EX range and Sony HD Handicams, which we’ve used in numerous testing conditions on previous productions, and remain confident that they’ll stand up to the challenges.’

Manser and Skinstad, followed by their production crew of five, plan to travel around the north-east point of Iceland – the edge of the Arctic Circle – and then head south down the east coast: a magical region of glaciers, forests, bird cliffs, vast deserts and narrow fjords; encompassing a diverse variety of wildlife that includes the arctic fox, Icelandic horse, killer whale, and dozens of birds that occupy the cliff faces around the Island.


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