An Arizona-based documentary explores loss, healing, and the bond built through the eyes of a local hiking group.
Who is Marcel Dorsey?
Marcel Dorsey is a writer born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Cleveland State University with a Bachelor of Communications Film/Cinema/Video Studies degree. His education paired with his passion for storytelling gave Marcel the foundational confidence to pursue filmmaking.
A 2003 Hollywood Black Film Festival finalist, Dorsey writes, edits, shoots, directs and produces his own films, and in 2004 Dorsey finished his first novel, Instant Danger.
With his many skills and a solid background in music videos, including one of the first featuring Machine Gun Kelly, Dorsey was able to put together two films during the pandemic—Kamo Life, a powerful hiking documentary, and One Last Drink, a short film noir made with a cell phone. Both films were entered and won at several film festivals.
Why did you create Kamo Lyfe?
Kamo Lyfe was born when my friend Kevin Russell from Cleveland contacted me and told me about how hiking had not only changed his body, but also his life. At first, I was skeptical because I didn't see the appeal of seeing people walking around looking at bushes and rocks. But after he expressed the beauty of Phoenix and how it felt to reach the top of his excursions and breathe the Arizona air, I knew there was a story there. Soon after I met the other hikers and actually got to Phoenix, it clicked. I knew that if I could capture how I felt when I was there. People would feel it too.
Why Arizona? Hiking?
Arizona was chosen because of a friend’s relocation. All the hikers in the film are from somewhere else, but all have expressed the love and beauty of Arizona. I have visited Arizona several times and it has never stopped impressing me.
Hiking was chosen because of its simplicity. Kevin wanted to get in shape and figured hiking would be the easiest way to do it, or so he thought. The more trails and walkways he went to the harder it got. Along with the heat, hiking can get you in shape quickly. I know for a fact several people have not only made Phoenix a destination after seeing Kamo Lyfe, but they have started hiking in their cities. I believe Kamo Lyfe shows what hiking can be.
Describe your biggest challenges in producing Kamo Lyfe?
Ironically, the biggest hurdle when making Kamo Lyfe was rain. It rained almost seventy percent of the time I was here to film. So, with a limited time to film, I had to work with scraps to create the movie. I reached out to the hikers and collected as much cell phone footage and pictures as I could get. So now when I look back, I realize the task at hand, and that I was able to craft a movie with 1/5 of what I thought I would have.
What is the central message you want to deliver through this documentary?
I believe, I accomplished what I set out to do. I wanted to make an entertaining and compelling film. I have been told several times that people are surprised when they watch Kamo Lyfe. It was more than people hiking; it was a good story with heart. And for people to want to hike and actually start hiking, I think says it all.