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.
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.
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! Martin Seth-Smith is today known as the film-outfitting expert, working on numerous documentaries and series such as Survivor and Bear Grylls.
Numerous guides have been roped in as back-up cameramen too, with Max Melesi assisting on a National Geographic shoot following leopards and cheetahs in the Maasai Mara.
Working closely with local production companies, we provide guidance on locations, logistics and licenses – helping film companies to secure permits, source equipment, select extras, and make sure everyone is fed and looked after like true safari guests.
Since our first foray into the film world in 1946, Ker & Downey has been involved in countless film, commercial and documentary productions.
Full List of Films: King Solomon’s Mines, starring Stewart Granger; Where No Vultures Fly, directed by Harry Watt, starring Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan; The Snows of Kilimanjaro, starring Gregory Peck, Susan Heyward and Ava Gardner; Mogambo, starring Clark Gable, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner (accompanied by her jealous and suspicious fiancé, Frank Sinatra); The Lion, starring William Holden and Trevor Howard; Hatari!, starring John Wayne; Call Me Bwana with Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg; Sammy Going South, starring Edward G. Robinson and Constance Cummings; Mister Moses starring Robert Mitchum; Cowboy in Africa starring John Mills; Gilligan’s Last Elephant, directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Stewart Granger; and Out of Africa, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Other movies outfitted by Ker & Downey include Ashanti, Quest for Fire, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, The Colour Purple, The Missionary, Cry Freedom, Gorillas in the Mist, Shadow on the Sun, The Mountains of the Moon, The Constant Gardener, Nowhere in Africa, Tomb Raider: the Cradle of Life, Africa mon Amour, Garden of Eden and Fly me to the Moon.