This Filmer Has Captured Several Of Surfing's Defining Moments - Stab Mag

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This Filmer Has Captured Several Of Surfing’s Defining Moments

Meet Nimai Strickland, the man who shot Hippo’s iconic ‘Thundercloud’ barrel and Mr Lenny’s freak Jaws acid drop.

cinema // Jan 31, 2022
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

When Nimai Strickland was 16 he did work experience with Tim Bonython. “I was logging hours of footage, learning the ropes, doing really basic edits for the better part of a year. Through him I got involved with a production company, The Construction Site, who handled all of Quiksilver’s production,” says Nimai.

After a five year stint at Quikky, Nimai got the opportunity to work with Dane Reynolds on his first feature film ‘First Chapter’. “That was pretty special, and funny. Dane is very particular and was heavily involved. I’d choose some music and send it over and he’d just write back saying, ‘Nah, this is shit.’ He pretty much ended up directing everything we did,” laughs Nimai. 

Sure enough, the film ended up winning the Surfer Poll ‘Film of the Year’. Nimai was pretty much a grom at that point.

Not long after, Nimai got poached by Billabong as an editor and cinematographer. “That was pretty incredible traveling the world and doing surf trips with the team. I stayed there for five years before moving to Surfing Australia, which is where I’ve been for the past eight years.” 

The opening shot in Nimai’s Real to Reel entry (above) is from KS’ wave pool. “It’s when Surfing Australia sent their Olympic squad over for a training camp and I drew the lucky straw and got to film it all. The whole crew, cinematographers included, got a chance to get a wave out there.”

“I’ve never got a legit barrel before,” adds Nimai, “so to get a legit barrel was like ‘Holy Fuck, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’ My former boss is the guy at the start, luckily he ate shit and I was on the inside to pick up the scraps. I swung into it and got absolutely pitted. I was like ‘this is what it must be like to get coned at Kirra’,” says Nimai with a tonne of stoke. 

“I was so amped that night I send a DM to Kelly outlining the whole experience, that I’d been trying to get barrelled for the best part of twenty years and your technology allowed me to do it. The next morning I woke up and he’d shared it on his Insta! I couldn’t believe it. I was so stoked, so when Jed (Smith) came to do the narration on our ‘Rivals’ series, I got him to do a VO. My lord, that guy is funny.”

After 18 years in the industry, Nimai has shot so many iconic swells and superstars I actually thought he’d just ripped clips from popular Youtube clips. Not so — Nimai was the guy behind the lens on many important days in surfing. His cutdown is just a drop in the bucket of iconic moments he’s captured in his career.


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