Alfred and Elma Milotte’s three-year camera safari for Walt Disney's latest True-Life Adventure feature carried them for more than 50,000 miles through the primitive lands of Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda.
To bring the first full accurate life story of the King and Queen of Beasts out of the African wilderness for movie audiences, Alfred and Elma Milotte, famous team of 16mm cinematographers, literally consorted with lions for many months in photographing Walt Disney’s newest True-life Adventure feature, “The African Lion.” In their 32-month camera safari for the Disney assignment the Milottes lived as closely amongst groups of lions as they ever have with human neighbors. In that time, traveling in a truck which was both home, laboratory and camera car, they traversed the vast Serengeti plain and contiguous animal territory from Mt. Kenya to the lofty, storied Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Here they photographed the greatest pageant of wildlife anywhere on earth, uncountable in numbers, on over 100,- 000 feet of 16mm Kodachrome film, including in the lion’s domain elephant, rhino, giraffe, leopard and cheetah, zebra and wildebeest, baboon, hyena, jackal and wild dog packs, scores of antelope and gazelle species and birds of many feather.
The real preparation for the safari began with the construction by Disney engineers of the mobile carrier which was to transport the Milottes and their equipment into and through the rugged African interior, and which was to serve as a combination home, transport, and mobile camera car. On the chassis of a new 4-wheel-drive truck, a sturdy, steel-sheathed cabin was erected. This provided two pullman bunks; lockers for clothing, cameras and camera equipment; and a collapsible steel parallel or tower on top for use in gaining higher vantage point for the cameras. Heavy optical glass protected the windows and camera ports of the cab.