Ker & Downey has played a starring role in the movie business from the very beginning. In 1946, Donald Ker and Syd Downey hosted their first safari together for the African shoot of Ernest Hemingway’s The Macomber Affair. The roaring success of that film, shot in the Maasai Mara, spawned a business that has seen the company host, manage, and even act in some of the greatest films ever made – from King Solomon’s Mines to Out of Africa, Cry Freedom, and Gorillas in the Mist.
From building camps for 3,000 people to pampering film stars, mustering wildlife, finding locations, and even acting as stunt men, Ker & Downey guides and staff have done it all. John Sutton was renowned as Sydney Pollack’s right-hand man during the filming of Out of Africa, while Derek Dames designed cages for the trained lions and Nigel Dundas helped Robert Redford master his English accent. Tim Melesi even designed a fibreglass cow that was attacked by a lion in a crucial scene – sewing fillet steak around its neck to get the desired effect!
Over seven decades, we have worked with a long line of greats, from Grace Kelly and Meryl Streep, to Clark Gable, John Wayne and Ralph Fiennes. We have made documentaries for National Geographic and the American Museum of Natural History, and established camps for Comic Relief. Working closely with local production companies, we provide guidance on locations, logistics and licences – helping film companies to secure permits, source equipment, select extras, and make sure everyone is fed and looked after like true safari guests.