Jimmy Lees is Julian Wilson’s best-ever pal and now, full-time personal filmer. It ain’t about Jimmy riding Jules’ coat tails at all – it’s about Julian choosing to employ someone whose company he digs around the clock. In many ways, it’s a dreamy gig for Jimmy; where Jules feels pressure to perform, compete and succeed, Jimmy mostly just feels pressure not to miss a clip. And, he gets the same travelling lifestyle (minus the kinda scrilla Jules banks, o’ course). So what are the perks and bummers about being personal filmer to one of surfing’s biggest stars?
What’s the best part about your job? The lot. The fact that I get to see the world and in the most amazing fashion. The hotels, the food and the people you stumble across on the way. It’s a real privilege. I follow one of the best surfers in the world and document it. I couldn’t have asked for a better job.
Do you ever feel like a bitch? (Laughs)… Beggars can’t be choosers.
How does the friendship and business mix? Julian and I have been mates for a long time now. We grew up surfing longboards at the local points together, skating at the shitty little parks scattered across the coast, going to school and partying together. We know each other pretty well by now and when he offered me this position I knew he was was serious about making it happen. I’ve learnt over the years that when Julian has an idea or suggestion, he’s generally pretty serious about making it happen or work. At the end of the day he’s still my boss and there is that line between friendship and business. If it’s time to pull the finger out or if I’m dropping the ball a little, there’s no two ways about it. But it seems to work.
How do you guys decide when you get to surf yourself? I guess it’s decided by the waves at the time. I mean, if it’s six-to-10 foot and barrelling, or three foot wedges and there’s fins and things flying everywhere, there’s not a better place I’d like to be than behind a camera capturing it all. We just got back from the Gold Coast from a six-day stint. It didn’t really reach over three foot and pretty ordinary, but I managed to squeeze a couple of surfs in.
What’s the best time you’ve had on the road? Geez, I dunno. I mean, there’s been a lot of epic dinners, a lot of crazy events that I never thought my eyes would see. Some amazing countries on just surf trips, but I guess, lock us in a car together for 13 hours (France-Portugal) and some pretty funny convos go down!
Are you on call 24/7, or does your only downtime coincide with Julian’s downtime? Yeah, I guess that in a way, I am on call constantly. I mean, there’s downtime for sure but staying active, one step in front is a huge key in it, I guess. I’ve worked under people like Matt Beauchesne, Ryan Young and Kai Neville, and all those guys’ work ethics are amazing and that’s why they’re so good at what they do.
Who makes the best web clips? There are a lot of rad web clips out there and the standard of quality is getting pretty wild. I find a lot of my inspiration though skateboarding. I could sit on the Thrasher site and watch pretty much every clip on there. I love that Dane (Reynolds) and Mini and those guys are doing something different. It’s refreshing. There are a lot of talented and creative people out there with some cool ideas. It’s exciting to wake up, turn the computer on and see what people have been creating around the world. – Elliot Struck
Be sure to check out the magic that Jimmy and Julian create together, right over here.