Filmmaker raising funds to finish story of 2 SM East grads who hitchhiked across Sahara in 1971

Once of Steve Ewert's photos from the duo's trip across the Sahara desert.
One of Steve Ewert’s photos from the duo’s trip across the Sahara desert.

In 1971, two Prairie Village friends hatched a plan to travel to Europe and produce news articles about Kansans living abroad. Dick Russell would write the copy. Steve Ewert would shoot the photos. And the two would try to sell the pieces to publications back home.

The story of what happened over the course of that trip is the subject of a documentary currently in production called “Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity.” Ewert’s nephew Scott Petersen is trying to raise funds to finish the film via an Indiegogo campaign.

Ewert and Russell both graduated from SM East in 1965 before heading on to the University of Kansas for college. Russell fell out of love with his job writing for Sport Illustrated and proposed the idea of freelancing abroad to Ewert, who eventually signed on.

The European section of the trip provided a bevy of remarkable encounters, meeting with famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and attending the memorial service of Charles De Gaulle among them. But when the two decided to veer from Europe to north Africa, the trip took a decided turn. By the time they’d traveled from Algeria to Ghana in 1971, Ewert was on the verge of madness.

“I remember my uncle Steve telling me about his crazy post-college trip and I always wanted to share this story,” Petersen says in the Indiegogo write up.”

Check out the campaign page — with a detailed description of the trip — here.