There are many avenues to adventure in this world. Justin Kelly has found a way of applying his skills as an Executive Producer to a life which is the polar opposite of an office or soundstage. The secret to enjoying one’s experience on planet Earth is cracking the code of fulfillment and Justin’s career is proof that this is achievable for the committed and tenacious.
He’s lived on locations next to Bears (Alaska’s Grizzly Gauntlet, Great Bear Stakeout) and amidst the dangerous gold mines of the Yukon (Discovery Channel’s award-winning Gold Rush: Alaska) furthering his reputation for great storytelling coupled with risk which has led many in the industry to seek him out. For productions that are scrutinized and defined by their authenticity, there’s no better person than Justin Kelly to steer their ship.
Kelly’s work with the Afar tribe in Ethiopia, the Embera tribe in Panama, and for shows such as Hottest Place On Earth and Primetime Emmy nominated a Vs Wild(with Bear Grylls) increased his worldwide acclaim as someone comfortable working in extreme environments. Among the many who took notice was the BBC, who enlisted him to be the producer and director for Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission.
This documentary follows the Golden Globe-winning McGregor (Star Wars, Fargo, Trainspotting, Dr. Sleep, Moulin Rouge, Black Hawk Down) as he journeys to the most remote locations in the world, supplying life-saving vaccines to children through UNICEF. Justin precededMcGregor to the Congo, scouting locations and making contact with tribespeople.
The experience not only affected the children and viewers, but it also had an immense impact on the director/producer who notes, “Without a doubt the most rewarding experience of this project was meeting the Baku tribe in the Congolese Jungle. They’re pretty much under the control of the Bantu people to the point of near enslavement. That was hard to see. They’re very friendly people who made us incredibly welcome. It was a real privilege to meet them.”
A very different type of reward is the subject of History Channel’s upcoming season #2 ofLost Gold of WW2, on which Justin served as showrunner. Since the program’s 2019 premiere, it is ranked as one of the network’s top five shows. The series follows a team of scientists and treasure hunters searching for gold reputedly buried in the Philippine jungle by the Japanese Army near the end of the Second World War.
This international endeavor requires constant coordination of both the American and Philippine production crews. Due for release in May of 2020, the second season of Lost Gold of WW2 is already expected to be an equal or greater hit than its predecessor. Part Raiders of the Lost Ark and part documentary, it seems impossible for anyone but Justin Kelly to ensure that this production displays the excitement and risk it possesses.
A literal modern-day treasure hunt, Justin admits that the idea excited him enough to take on the challenge of showrunner for such an international production. He confirms, “I love the story. It’s fascinating to know that there are supposed to be billions of dollars of treasure in the Philippines which has been lying buried for nearly eighty years.
It appeals to my passion for history. I’m just as excited as viewers to see if we can unearth the treasure. I jumped at the chance of working on the show. The treasure team is quite a passionate bunch who have risked a lot to journey to the Philippines and conduct this search. There’s nothing better than a story of people risking it all to get a life goal.”
Writer: Cecil McCoy