World of GoPro

Meet the Million Dollar Crew: Christoph Benfey

Feb 02, 2022

Nearly 28,000 HERO10 Black clips from 131 countries were submitted for the chance to be featured in the fourth annual Million Dollar Challenge highlight reel. Ultimately, 62 creators made the cut, earning $16,129.03 a piece.

This series celebrates the stories and the creative processes of these talented creators. We hope these behind-the-scenes looks inspire you as much as they did us.

Cinematographer and drone pilot Christoph Benfey decided 2021 would be the first year he submitted to GoPro Award’s Million Dollar Challenge contest. While the Ontario local has experience in creating cinematic greatness, he had never captured anything like this FPV footage of Victoria Falls. Not only was it a challenge to find the time to get the shot, but he only had enough battery for a few flights—mind you, he captured it all moments before hoping on a return flight to Canada.

We caught up with Christoph to learn more about his journey to MDC royalty. Check it out below.

GoPro: You were just awarded $16,129.03 USD! Congrats! What do you plan to do with your earnings?

CB: There are a few people who have helped me along the way as an FPV pilot, so I'm going to surprise them with gift certificates. I'll pay off a bit of debt, purchase some new gear, and most importantly, book a trip somewhere epic so I can film something for the next Million Dollar Challenge!

When did you first start using GoPro?

I think it was for a family trip to Florida back in 2008 or 2009, so I could film underwater.

What inspired your awarded clip?

I was in Zimbabwe filming a documentary series about parents who left their home countries to raise their kids in North America, bringing them back to their home country to show them what their life was like growing up. I brought my FPV stuff because I was hoping we'd have some free time at some epic locations to get a few personal shots or cool b-roll to supplement the show. But the shoot schedule was absolutely insane. We worked minimum 12hr days, usually 15-16, and didn't really get any days off for the month I was there. 

We ended the trip in Victoria Falls, and once again I didn't have any time for personal shots, but on the last day, the day we flew out at noon, I left the hotel at 7 a.m. so I could get to Victoria Falls right when they opened. I ran to the spot I scouted on Google Maps to shoot from and quickly set up for a few flights. I only had enough batteries for a few attempts, so I kept it pretty simple, but I knew the location would do all the heavy lifting! I also knew I didn't have time to go looking for my drone if I crashed or anything. 

Luckily the shoot went without a hitch and I got the shot! I have never been so anxious and excited about a shot at the same time. It was incredibly exhilarating! When I got the footage back on the computer, I couldn't believe I was looking at GoPro footage—it was so clean and crisp, and despite being sunrise, there was loads of information in the highlights and the shadows. I couldn't be more pleased with the results!

What shots are you excited to chase on HERO10 Black now that you've seen the final video?

It was awesome to see so much FPV stuff in the video this year. I think we're going to continue to see this hobby explode in the filmmaking world, and I'm so excited to be a part of that! 

But I think the shot that stood out to me the most was the dad pushing his kid around the apartment in the laundry basket. That one genuinely brought happy tears to my eyes. As someone planning a family, I can't wait to get a GoPro in my kids' hands one day and see the kind of magic they create! 

Would you participate again in the future?

Absolutely! I plan to use some of the prize money to do a trip somewhere so I can chase another epic shot!

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with the Million Dollar Challenge?

I love that GoPro does this for its community. I know so many people who go out of their way to come up with crazy shots in hopes of making the cut. At a time where it can be hard to find inspiration, we'll take any excuse we can find to go out and shoot!

Watch the HERO10 Black Million Dollar Challenge reel here.