Director of Photography: Michael Kalili
Transition Hawaii: Director of Photography: Michael Kalili
Michael Kalili: Director of Photography
photography career first started with cleaning toilets.
But, all that hard work paid off because the freelance photographer is now the director of photography for Spike TV's reality show The Ultimate Fighter.
NÄnÄkuli High School graduate Michael "Mike" Kalili got his
first taste of the television scene as one of four pre-production assistant interns with MTV's
The Real World: Hawai'i in 1998.
However, the start of his
career was hardly glamorous.
Most of his
on-set duties involved manual labor for the Real World's
Diamond Head beach house.
chores included: painting walls, shoveling 12 tons of dirt to build a koi pond and, of course, cleaning bathrooms.
KEEPING IT REAL
When filming was a wrap, Mike
was offered a position with The Real World production crew.
At first, he was apprehensive about leaving his family and Leeward Community College's (LCC) Television Production Program, which he had been enrolled in since the fall of 1996.
After speaking with his
mom, who is one of his
greatest influences, he
decided to leave for the Mainland in 1998.
"For me, the best way to learn is hands-on," Mike
was soon traveling the world to film for The Real World.
Each of the six Real World seasons and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge took him to a different location.
"I got my passport in 2001.
I had never owned a passport before," Mike
lived on five continents, and in places such as New Orleans, New York, Paris and South Africa.
Aside from traveling, working on The Real World led to some crazy experiences.
While filming a segment of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge in Las Vegas, Mike
was asked to participate in one of the practice stunts-a bungee jump off the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Tower!
That's the height of five Aloha Towers!
declined after realizing that he
would be dangling 40 feet from the top of the tower.
did participate in a much safer stunt: a demolition derby practice run.
Luckily for him, all that was required was sitting in the passenger seat and shooting paint from a water gun pointing out the window.
After leaving The Real World, Mike
worked on different reality shows, such as FOX's Kitchen Nightmares, before moving to Las Vegas, Nev.
Now he is a freelance photographer, working with the production company Pilgrim Films.
Recently, he worked as the director of photography for The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV, a tournament-style reality show that gives a contract to a new UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter.
Mike's duties with The Ultimate Fighter include more than just filming.
is in charge of lighting the gym and the fighters' house, placing furniture, hiring the camera department and assembling the crew for the six-week shoot.
During the filming of the season, he heads the camera department and records the 24hour coverage needed for the show.
These duties cause Mike
to work intense 14-hour days, but he
loves the fast-paced environment.
"I'm so busy, I love it.
Reality TV is strange because you're in another world.
You feel involved," he
Being a freelance photographer in this alternate world has its pros and cons.
has the freedom to work intensely for six months straight and then take the rest of the year off.
But, one of the downsides to being a freelance worker is making your presence known in the field.
After leaving MTV
took every job offered to him in order to build up his
rÃ©sumÃ© and to make connections- even if the job kept him away from loved ones.
"Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part.
Hopefully people will recommend you for jobs," he
"You need to make so many sacrifices at first with traveling and not seeing your family.
Beware of the amount of sacrifice."
So far, Mike has accomplished a great deal since he graduated from NÄnÄkuli High School.
People are always surprised that he's
made it so far, both geographically and professionally.
"Living in NÄnÄkuli
, you feel like you're more cut off from the rest of the island," he
Director of Photography: Michael Kalili
View All Arts & Communications