Cousins hitch-hike from Durban to LA to meet Ellen DeGeneres
Johannesburg - When cousins Luke MacDonald and Jordan Deall decided to hitch-hike into the heart of the Congo in search of a mythical dinosaur, everyone thought they were crazy - except maybe for their camera guy, Donovan Orr, who seemed keen on the adventure.
But that didn't stop them from going ahead anyway.
They travelled 15 000km over 107 days, passing through 10 countries via 92 different rides, in search of the legendary creature of the Congo River basin, Mokele-Mbembe.
Eventually, they ended up in an almost mythical pygmy village, deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and their incredible journey became the subject of Hitched, a ten-part documentary series produced by local film agency Tomfoolery TV.
It was an adventure of a lifetime. Now the Durban-born surfers have set their sights on a bigger, more daunting goal.
They are currently in the middle of hitch-hiking from Durban to Los Angeles - a cool 28000km away - in a bid to tell popular US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres about their Congo adventure and share their African documentary with the world.
MacDonald and Deall, together with their cameraman, have hitch-hiked almost 20 000 kilometres, crossing thirteen countries, and currently find themselves in the middle of Siberia.
David Leslie, creator of film agency Tomfoolery, said the pair had yet to make any contact with DeGeneres even though they are 20 000km into their journey already.
“We have had no contact from her, but we feel confident that she is expecting us thanks to South Africans rallying together,” says Leslie.
“A few weeks ago, Ellen asked who should be on the seventeenth season. There were about 3 000 responses and almost 2 000 of those were South African's asking for Hitched.
“This week alone, we have had 5000 people tag Ellen on Instagram and Facebook asking her to invite them.
“We appreciate everyone who is getting behind the boys. With South Africans continuing to champion the boys, we really feel we have a fighting chance of getting to her and selling our show internationally.”
After running a poll online as to who would be the best help for the boys to sell their documentary, Ellen came out tops, beating Kim Kardashian, Frodo Baggins, and Morgan Freeman.
“She was our first choice because she is kind, funny, generous and amazing.”
While their journey to LA has been remarkable so far, it hasn't been without plenty of obstacles.
“We have faced every obstacle imaginable. There have been delays, disappointments, lack of resources, deserts to deal with, dangerous territories and rebels, ice, gale force winds, sickness, and so on. Originally, the trip was supposed to be three months, and we planned to hitch a ride on a boat across the Atlantic and work our way up South America, but after six weeks of searching, we had no choice but to start the long gruelling journey up Africa and across Europe.
“To cover the additional expense, we sold our beloved Tomfoolery panel van. It has been a wild, amazing journey, and thanks to the kindness and ‘gees’ of South Africans and our friends at Trink who gave us a generous sponsorship, we have been able to push through the seven month journey.”
But despite all the challenges they have been faced with, Leslie says it's been a blessing working with MacDonald, Deall, and Orr.
“Luke and Jords are incredibly funny, kind, smart, generous humans. Both graduated sum-cum laude from their degrees and have lived unique lives which gives them a really interesting perspective from which they share their stories.
“Don, their filmmaker, is a uniquely gifted individual with an uncanny ability to pull narratives together, and in the future, has the potential to prove himself to be one of South Africa's most exciting directors. I am confident as a collective they will blow away an international audience.”
Leslie first met the cousins in 2012 and said he knew immediately he wanted to work with them. “It all started below the floorboards of their parents' house. It's a funny, crazy story actually,” says Leslie.
“I got divorced in 2012, and so ended up living and working beneath a couple with two ‘sons’ - Luke and Jords. I had started a small film agency (Tomfoolery) below their house, and all day I would hear them laughing and talking through the thin floorboards.
“One day, Luke and Jords decided to throw a pool party when the parents were away, and I remember seeing Luke sitting in the pool on a deck chair surrounded by friends, and in that moment, I thought to myself they had personalities the world needed to see.
“So together, we came up with a daring mission - we would shoot a documentary series of their childhood dream to find the last dinosaur.”
While there remains a possibility that MacDonald and Deall won't be able to meet DeGeneres once they reach LA, Leslie says the boys won't give up on their goal.
“Our hope is that we find an international audience through this journey, and so we have created an e-commerce website - hitchseries.co.za where anyone can buy the first season.
"We are so excited for them to make history and tell their story to the world from Ellen's couch.”