Jay Cox is best known as a documentary filmmaker for capturing Luke Tyburski story in the documentary film The Ultimate Triathlon. Jay captures the emotion of Luke’s self-imposed challenge — an insane 2,000km Triathlon swimming from Africa to Europe, cycling the entire coast of Spain and running the full coast of France. The Ultimate Triathlon is the story of one man’s exceptional journey in a bid to reclaim his ordinary life which Jay masterfully turned into an award winning documentary film.
Luke Tyburski lived his dream as a professional football player before injury cut that dream cruelly short, a twist of fate that sent him spiraling into clinical depression. Luke then discovered his salvation and a road back to strength and sanity via the world of extreme endurance challenges.
Experienced athletes have repeatedly told Luke it was impossible and could not be done. He is out to prove the doubters wrong on this endurance journey of a lifetime in a quest for his limits, his future and his sanity.
The Ultimate Triathlon has no crowds, no media, just one person and his will to accomplish when he set out to achieve. We talk with Jay Cox, the man behind the lens and film producer.
DR. Jay, thanks for speaking to us and giving us an insight to how you got involved in filming this amazing story of Luke. But first things first “Who is Jay Cox?”
JC. I am a person who likes to make films and documentaries. I am also a former record producer from Portsmouth, England. In 2014 I started a production company called Fizzeek Media.
DR. How / Why did you get into film making?
JC. I used to film weddings with my Dad when I was 14 and I always wanted to be a full time cameraman or record producer. I pursued music production for years and after an illness I though to myself ‘if money wasn’t an option, what would I love to do everyday’. and that answer was to make films.
DR. It’s interesting that you say that. Life takes a whole new perspective when we make this paradigm shift in thinking. How did you manage to get yourself involved with Luke?
JC. I heard Luke on the Rich Roll podcast talking about this crazy idea he had to do the Ultimate Triathlon, I thought it sounded amazing, and I wanted to get involved with anything he was doing, so I contacted Luke directly.
DR. Normally we are the ones chasing a willing filmmaker, but you introduced yourself to Luke. What did you really think when he asked you to film him?
JC. Luke’s Ultimate Triathlon film crew pulled out at the last minute and he casually asked me what I was doing from the 17th October I was so excited and completely forgot I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I would work it out along the way.
DR. Well that’s a good start (laughs), did you guys have funding or pre-sold deals?
JC. The documentary had no filming budget, we both made sacrifices because we both knew it needed to happen.
DR. We know that story well. Now… there are always some special juicy stories behind the scenes, could you share a couple with us please?
JC. The thing that struck me was the attitude of Luke and the crew throughout the whole experience, when times were hard there were no egos, no tantrums, just decent people working their backsides off. At the end of day 2 it was 1:30am and we were all so tired, we were trying to get through the hotel car park barrier to unload the van. The barrier went up Warren started driving not realising that Erica (Warren’s wife) was only half-way in the van being dragged along a couple of feet. Erica just shrugged it off and accepted Warren’s apology and let it go! This could have changed the mood but it didn’t and that was the moment that I knew I was in great company.
Another thing that I didn’t include in the documentary is that on the beginning of day 3 I forgot to pick my passport up from reception and 300+ kilometers later I realised that we couldn’t go back. There was some confusion over postage as we couldn’t give them the hotel addresses as we didn’t book the hotel until late everyday. They ended up posting it to Nice in France and when we crossed the border at night on day 6 I hid under the kit and luckily there was no border check!
DR. Making it to Monaco would have been a massive sense of relief for you and the entire team. Did you know at that time you had a great story?
JC. I have to admit, I was glad that Luke got there after all that we all went through, but we were all quietly sad because the life changing experience was over. I knew it was a great adventure when the swim crossing got switched!
DR. Editing is a massive job, how did you go about it, what was the hardest part for you in picking a story line?
JC. After it was over we couldn’t all get back together until 5 months later where I interviewed Luke, Vanda, Erica and Warren in London. Still having a full-time job I was going to edit in the evenings but luckily I had to have a operation and that gave me 5 weeks of recovery to edit the film. Once I had all the footage then it hit me on how much work it was and for half a day I was paralysed not knowing how or where to start. I had about 70 hours of footage in the end and I said to myself ‘just turn up for editing, it doesn’t matter how much you do — just turn up’. And that’s how I got through it. I was lucky enough to have been there and I just wanted to tell the raw story and as close to as I saw it unfold.
DR. With the film now made, how did you approach the market to propose your film, TV channels? distributors? any lessons learned there?
JC. Yes, the festivals I wanted to submit to only took films that hadn’t been released anywhere. We released The Ultimate Triathlon on Vimeo first so this limited us to the amount of festivals I could apply to.
This being the first documentary I had made, I was unsure of the correct distribution channels, I have since gained experience in this area building up relationships and contacts along the way.
DR. What is the hardest part? filming, editing, producing, or releasing / selling the film?
JC. I loved filming, editing and producing The Ultimate Triathlon and even though it was challenging at times, I was in my element, making money from the film has had a lot of challenges and it’s not over yet.
DR. Did you think Luke was on its way to become a successful motivational speaker and an author with his new book Chasing Extreme when you started this project?
JC. Yes definitely, Luke is very passionate, honest and engaging plus it helps that he has these crazy ideas!, Luke’s experiences in life and the story of The Ultimate Triathlon will always be interesting for people to hear.
DR. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
JC. To be honest not a lot! maybe a bit of time to get used to the camera I used to film the documentary — I only picked it up the day I flew out to Spain to join Luke! It was such a unique experience, I would do it again tomorrow without any hesitation.
DR. Thanks for your time Jay, do you think we will see The Ultimate Triathlon II?
JC. I know what Luke has planned! Watch this space!