Due to a huge success in 2012, Flix In Stix is on again at Saumarez Homestead on Feb 23, with renowned surfer Jamie Mitchell submitting his very own feature film. Jamie drops us a line to explain how he has gone from surfing waves to producing films.
How did your film get selected to be in the Optus Flix in the Stix program for 2013?
This year’s program is curated by Nash Edgerton, and there is one slot kept open for the event director’s choice, which happens to be the short of my documentary, Decade of Dominance. I am really stoked it has been selected; it is a great opportunity to take my story and the story of Molokai to people in regional Australia who live away from the coast.
Large waves and paddle boards? Tell us more …
The water has been a huge part of my life. I started swimming at a very young age to help my asthma, and I joined the Coffs Harbour Nippers when I was five years old. So I have been linked to the ocean and water from a very young age. I grew up paddling in the nippers and learnt to surf, and each one complements the other. Paddling became pretty serious at a young age for me; I started competing at local carnivals and then progressed to state and national level when I got older and into my teens.
When I was in my early 20s, I went to Hawaii and did the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race with a friend of mine in a team. I had a lot of fun and met some great people, so I decided to go back and then in 2002 I won my first Solo Molokai to Oahu race, and it just snowballed from there. I fell in love with Hawaii and the people there.
I grew up looking up to Dave and Scotty Reeves, who were champion Ironmen from Coffs Harbour. Both loved to surf and they’re not scared of big waves, or training in big waves. I loved hanging out with those older guys and trying to learn from them and trying to keep up with them and be like them.
I got comfortable in big waves and after spending time in Hawaii later in my life, I decided that I wanted to pursue surfing big waves as well. So, I decided to start spending 3 months in Hawaii every year and just surfing my brains out. And now I’m lucky enough to be able to chase swells all over the world.
How have you progressed your career?
To be honest, I can’t believe where my life is now. I just started as a little Nipper in Coffs Harbour and decided to move to the Gold Coast to help my paddling and seek out more opportunities. Then the biggest moment was going and doing Molokai and continuing to go back. I was working pretty much full-time for the GC City Council lifeguarding and taking time off to go to Hawaii and California to race and then going back to work to pay my credit card off.
Then along the way I got a few small sponsors, who would give me clothes etc. And it just progressed in small leaps until I got approached by Quiksilver, and I got offered a contract from those guys. That’s when I had to make the decision to either stay life guarding or take a big pay cut and accept the contract and pursue the opportunity of living my dream of paddling and surfing as a full-time career, knowing it would mean struggling to get by financially in the initial stages. I decided to go for it, and that decision has paid off.
What’s your proudest career moment?
I think it’s split between my first victory in the Molokai race and my last one, which was my tenth. They both have special meaning to me.
Which five words best describe you? Loyal, driven, competitive, focused, fun.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
To be yourself. Don’t change or try to change for anyone. You are who you are, and ultimately that’s what keeps you alive and ticking. If people can’t accept you for you, they are not worth worrying about. Be open to new ideas and have an open mind. You never know what doors may open for you.
What was the starting point for this documentary?
I think I owe everything to my family for always having my back and believing in me 100%, no matter what, and always encouraging me. Also, all the friends along the way who have helped me and been there for me. Without people like that in your life, it would be very very hard.
What’s been your best decision?
I think the decision to take a chance and quit my Job to pursue a dream. If I hadn’t taken that chance, I would definitely not be where I am today.
Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many different people and walks of life. From great athletes, to my family and everyday people who are making life work, no matter what is thrown at them. But in the athletic world, I do draw inspiration from athletes like Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Kelly Slater, and Dave Kalama.
These guys have been at the top of their game for so long and have continued to push the sporting and age barriers.
What dream do you still want to fulfill?
I would really love to get invited to the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Event. That’s been a dream for a long time of mine. I have a few projects in mind that I would love to pursue as well, but I can’t tell you too much about them, ha ha.
What are you reading at the moment?
A book called Organic Performance. Adam Kellinson wrote it, and it’s about good, clean food and living a healthy life and some great recipes as well.
This interview was found in issue 68 of New England Focus