SOOM under the Senegal sun


No power – inconceivable for Europeans, but normal for the African village Ndelle. Situated six hours from Dakar, it is attainable only by dusty, sandy fields. However the approximate 800 village inhabitants have reason for joy: The company Solar 23 is building a solar plant in Ndelle. The German cameraman Jrgen Killenberger captured this project in a corporate film. Killenberger is often abroad, for the ARD among other things, and always pays attention to his luggage weight. Three individual products to transport, are almost impossible, therefore he relies on the multi-functional SOOM from Sachtler: It weighs only 5.8 kg and offers four different functions. In the following article Jrgen Killenberger shares his personal "travel memories".
"Flight AF 718 from Paris to Dakar: With one hour delay I arrive at the airport, 9:15 p.m. local time. It is already night, but still very hot. Despite the tight budget for production, the project is very exciting. Therefore I have decided to film alone, without a camera assistant. I am located sweating, waiting for the luggage, in the baggage hall. The first suitcases arrive and the passengers storm the conveyor belt. With difficulty I commandeer a luggage trolley and heave my two cases on to it. Everything must be compactly packed with the luggage quantity small. Therefore I decided on the Sony FX1 and the lightweight SOOM HiPod system from Sachtler. I have worked since my first internship as a camera assistant almost exclusively with Sachtler products. I have, you could say, grown up with it. I have been convinced now, for over 17 years, with the quality, innovation and reliability of the equipment. With the SOOM tripod I have a durable multifunctional tool, which with a small budget, I can make a very high quality production. The SOOM allows quick assemblage and due to its technical possibilities facilitates creative work. Mini spreader, Monopod and in use with the tripod a height of 2.50 meters are all great! No extra luggage, which as a person traveling alone is to be treasured. Now quickly through customs and then I dip into the melee of the African city of Dakar. Arriving at the hotel, I drink another beer and watch on a small flickering television in the lobby, the second half of the Champion League Final, FC Chelsea against Manchester United.
Day 1: Discovery of tardiness – on to Ndelle
The next morning we have a breakdown. The car, which should transport me from Dakar to Kaolack, is smoking. Nothing goes for the next two hours and we do not being our journey until 11 a.m.. The African clock ticks somewhat more slowly. However it is nice to be able to escape the hecticness of the European everyday life but with a narrow filming schedule it is devastating for production. Now, I hope no other problems occur, otherwise the schedule cannot be kept. We stand on the road in glowing heat and wait for assistance. Finally success and we arrive at Kaolack in the afternoon. The air conditioning system was defective and it was necessary for me, once again completely sweaty, to transfer from the car into a 4 wheel drive Jeep. This can travel over the dusty fields to Ndelle, which lies thirty kilometers south of Kaolack.
Shaken and with the hope that all screws are still there and nothing is loose, I emerge amidst the rejoicing of dozens of African children. My equipment is in order, it is only myself to sort out. No time for considerations: The sun is nearly gone and I must still stow some things into the cases. Like always I can rely on Sachtler products – no failures, easy handling and with the versatile SOOM I get multiple shots in the can, which normally is only possible with two people. Often I am nine hours underway, in order to shoot film for one hour. On such filming days, there are no experiments with the equipment of brands such as Sony and Sachtler. Back in the hotel there is no reward awaiting me as only one drop of water leaves the rusty showerhead. Too little to refresh me and so I set off with a salt crust on my body, to a Lebanese restaurant and eat a small chicken.
Day 2: Solar electricity for Ndelle
I awake the next morning overtired. The air conditioning system in the room has roared like a starting jet the whole night and still did not lower the room temperature to below 38 degrees. After a watery coffee, I set off for the filming location. Today the assembly of the solar panels on the village school roof, as well as the wiring of the high tech equipment "Sunny Island", which administers all the solar energy. The village inhabitants are lucky. Finally they get power, can operate small electrical devices in their huts and the hospital can cool the medicines. A large step forward for Ndelle, a village in the Senegal savannah with 832 inhabitants living in 168 households. There is a school, a health centre and a childbirth centre. Five boutiques, a locksmith and a grain mill supplement the commercial activities in the village. The countries electricity mains are 8.7 kilometers away, Ndelle was never to be attached and had to rely upon generators. Now they finally have independence, finally solar electricity, high tech from Europe.
Day 3: Heat and chicken
In the shade it is 53 degrees. I am completely dehydrated and sit apathetically on the ground in the village hut of the mayor. His wife has cooked chickens for us. Very tasty. After this project I think I could grow feathers and fly. During this season, chickens are the food staple in Ndelle. Between 1 and 3 p.m. we take a break, practically nothing stirs. Much too hot, there is no chance to work efficiently. In the afternoon work continues and by 6 p.m. the sun has sunk. On the way back I hope that there is water in the hotel today... After three days of dust, heat and many good pictures I return to Dakar and return to Paris again on the night flight AF 719. Everything went very well. The choice of equipment was optimal with no failures. With small eyes, I arrive overtired in Paris at 5:50 a.m. The mailbox of my mobile phone indicates five calls and twelve SMS’s missed while in transit: Europe has me again fully in its grip."


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About Jrgen Killenberger
1991 internship with Modern Video GmbH as a camera assistant
1993-2000 freelancer for different broadcasters. Emphasis: documentaries and foreign reporting from crisis areas
2003-2005 as one of the few cameramen actively reporting for ARD in Baghdad (Iraq). Documentaries and current reporting for ARD. Altogether more than 15 months between 2003 and 2005 abroad
2006 establishment of Kinomatik Ltd. (managing director) in London
Since 2001 partner and managing director of Bildmanufaktur GmbH
Impression
“SOOM is a tool, which so far no other manufacturer has brought onto the market and I personally always wished for, in this form. With journeys abroad by plane, where one must always pay attention to the weight of the luggage, this tool, offering four different functions, is ideal."
Jrgen Killenberger

Tags: ndelle | soom | senegal | sachtler | solar power | solar plant | iss024 | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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