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This profile was last updated on 11/24/10  and contains information from public web pages.

Employment History


  • NÄnÄkuli High School
Web References
Transition Hawaii: Director of Photography: Michael Kalili, 24 Nov 2010 [cached]
Director of Photography: Michael Kalili Transition Hawaii: Director of Photography: Michael Kalili
Michael Kalili: Director of Photography
Michael Kalili's 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. His chores included: painting walls, shoveling 12 tons of dirt to build a koi pond and, of course, cleaning bathrooms.
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 says.
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 says. He lived on five continents, and in places such as New Orleans, New York, Paris and South Africa.
STUNT 101 Michael kalili
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! He declined after realizing that he would be dangling 40 feet from the top of the tower. However, he 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. Pre-production, he 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 says.
Being a freelance photographer in this alternate world has its pros and cons. Mike 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, Mike took every job offered to him in order to build up his résumé 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 says. "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 says.
Director of Photography: Michael Kalili View All Arts & Communications
Education Resources Campus Visits
Transition Hawaii: Hair Stylist: Kiyoshi Mizuta, 4 May 2008 [cached]
Director of Photography: Michael Kalili
Transition Hawaii: 2008 College & Career Guide Fall Edition, 4 May 2008 [cached]
Director of Photography: Michael Kalili Director of Photography: Michael Kalili Michael Kalili's photography career first started with cleaning toilets.
Transition Hawaii: Sports Anchor: Steven Uyehara, 4 May 2008 [cached]
Director of Photography: Michael Kalili View All Arts & Communications
Education Resources Campus Visits
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