Written by on Feb 27, 2013. Posted in Production News

50th Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition films on Easter Island and Antarctica

Sports Illustrated (SI) travelled around the world to shoot stills for the 50th anniversary of its high-profile Swimsuit Edition. Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean was among the more unusual locations and the publisher also became the first to organise an Antarctic photo shoot.

The journey to Antarctica began in late November 2012 with a four-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, which also happens to be the world’s southern-most city. From here the 12-person crew and supermodel Kate Upton boarded luxury cruise ship Le Boreal. Operating in conjunction with high-end tourism operator Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), the ship offered cabins with private balconies, as well as high-end facilities such as a five-star restaurant and a spa and fitness centre.

“It's all about organisation and timing, and that's where we excel,” comments A&K Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Kent, who travelled with SI on the ship: “A&K is known for providing unexpected comforts and amenities in remote destinations.

“What made this opportunity so special for us is that it was the culmination of Abercrombie & Kent's 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2012.”

Le Boreal spent two days cruising across the Drake Passage, the stretch of ocean between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands. The team snapped their first photos of Upton on King George Island, with the Antarctic summer temperature falling from -1 to -18 Degrees Celsius as they shot. They moved to various locations on the mainland over the next few days, enjoying unplanned encounters with penguins and humpback whales on the ten-day roundtrip on Le Boreal. Upton was in her swimsuit for ten minutes at a time before being wrapped up warmly by the crew, and she ended up on the cover of the magazine.

We worked with the SI team for eight months before they actually went to Easter Island, planning every detail of their trip.

Carla Magri, Explora

The South American leg of the project took the team to Easter Island in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a Polynesian island administered by Chile. Filming was organised in conjunction with the non-profit Turismo Chile and Explora, which offers lodge-based accommodation in more remote parts of South America.

“We worked with the SI team for eight months before they actually went to Easter Island, planning every detail of their trip,” says Explora’s Carla Magri: “Our Posada de Mike Rapu (lodge accommodation pictured above) on Easter Island only has 30 rooms and capacity for 60 people. Their group was 14 people [and] lots of luggage and wardrobe, all at the beginning of our high season months when we had a very high occupancy rate, so it was quite challenging.”

Sports Illustrated needed commercial filming permission from Chile’s National Forest Corporation, plus authorisation from the Council of Elders of the Rapa Nui people who are native to the island. The monolithic human heads (right) that have made Easter Island famous around the world are known as moai and are sacred to the elders.

This was the biggest shoot Explora had ever hosted on Easter Island. The team offered additional support for the 12-day shoot, including extra transport to help move all the equipment between locations. They also assisted with location filming permits after the team’s first attempt was denied.

“Once the SI team arrived on Easter Island, we took care of every single detail of this operation,” Magri adds: “We were responsible for accommodating the staff, as well as taking them to different locations at different hours to get the right light.”

“We wanted to make history,” comments SI Swimsuit’s Senior Editor MJ Day, “with an issue that captured the excitement and adventure of some of the world's most exotic places.”

Easter Island stills courtesy of Explora.com.

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