"I want to see peoples' reactions," said Jamie O'Brien when asked about what he was looking forward to most about the premier of his highly anticipated movie, "Who Is JOB?"
And after three-plus years of filming, it'd be a fair assumption that O'Brien was talking about the carefully chosen 60 minutes of surf footage that made the cut. And while there aren't many -- if any -- films that compare in terms of sheer number of gnarly waves ridden, O'Brien wasn't talking about that. He was referring to the personal side of his life that's reflected in the film.
"It's not really sugar-coated," he says. "But I haven't seen the finished version yet, so we'll all be seeing it for the first time. The editor hasn't slept for three days, he finished editing four hours before show time."
Last night, seated in the darkened Lido Theater on Newport's Balboa Island for the first showing of the movie, after being heavily bombarded by images of Pipeline, Teahupoo and other cavernous waves, the words "Jamie is a retard" flash across the screen. It's then that it all becomes perfectly clear what O'Brien had been talking about. This film is as much a confessional as it is a highlight reel. O'Brien comes clean about a lot of things, "having to take the special bus to school" for one, the hardships the family faced when his mom left at age four being another, or being the only haole kid at a school full of Hawaiians and Samoans.
You get the feeling Jamie O'Brien -- the Freak, the Super Freak, the Freak Show -- is more a misunderstood savant than anything. He's easily as talented as anybody on the World Tour, and rushes over the ledge with considerably more bravado, but he's never been one to conform, hence a spotty competitive record (at everywhere other than Pipeline). But now, after a full viewing of "Who Is JOB," the picture of who Jamie O'Brien really is becomes a little more clear. His ride hasn't been an easy one, and somehow through all the chaos of his childhood he was able to find sanctuary in the maelstrom of some of the heaviest waves on the planet. And as for the response of the sold-out theater? Well, lets just say they laughed, they cried, and they hooted like hell.
More behind-the-scenes video and photos with Jamie O'Brien coming up next week.