Jaxon Foale is a fun and quirky videographer taking the world, and Instagram, by storm with his stunning footage of some of the most incredible places on the planet.
Built on a passion for making weekend wakeboarding clips, Jek as he is often known, turned a side hustle into a successful career.
With more than 40,000 followers on Instagram and a dedicated legion of fans of YouTube, Jaxon travels the world making videos for impressive corporate clients from Jetstar Airways to ING Bank.
He also runs his own business, Drop Media, has created his own online editing presets and is an above-average surfer.
Jaxon is the next profile in the (getting older but still new) Mandurah Millennials on a Mission series, as we meet the young people from around the region helping to shape a new narrative.
The series aims to provide an insight into some of the fresh talent who have grown up in our great city, and are just getting started making a name for themselves.
Introducing Jaxon Foale, or Jek
From the minute Jaxon walks into the Mandurah Mail office for our interview, the banter begins.
At some stages, I'm interviewing him. At many more stages, he's interviewing me.
But it's a fun back-and-forth of a little bit of serious chat and a lot of laughs about crazy travel stories and adventures.
When I told people around town that I was excited to interview Jaxon for my Millennials series, I was lying.
Excited didn't even begin to cover it.
As a travel enthusiast myself and budding blogger, Jaxon lives the life I have dreamed of since I was 10 years old and decided I wanted to be a reporter on Getaway.
I could not wait to pick his brain on how to grow an Insta following, how to make those awesome edits on photos and piece together some aesthetically pleasing videos (on a much more basic scale than him, obviously).
But I was quick to learn that for every post that appeared fun and adventurous, there were hours of hard work behind the scenes to secure the clients in the first place and perfect the work.
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'I couldn't even use a USB'
"Take me back to the beginning," I say to Jaxon, who starts laughing and goes right back to being born in Subiaco and growing up in Mandurah and catching a bus for 40 minutes to Frederick Irwin Anglican School every day.
"Okay, not that far back," I interrupt.
"But that's why I got so hardcore into Game Boy because of that bus ride. Now I'm a really talented gamer," Jaxon added.
Honestly, listening back on this interview to transcribe it, there was just a lot of jokes and laughing. It was a good time.
But I did eventually make him talk about himself and his journey and, as a self-confessed egomaniac, that conversation went on for over an hour so this might just be the longest profile yet.
"This whole thing really started when I met my friend Elliott Lyons and we started dabbling with making videos at school," he said.
"It always sort of interested me. I always actually watched people make videos and thought it was the coolest, craziest thing I'd ever seen.
"I thought I was such an idiot because I couldn't make one - I couldn't even use a USB until year 11."
So, in an effort to develop their almost non-existent skills, the pair started documenting life when they would hang out, and created a video series based on their bucket lists.
It was called 'Elliott and Jaxon's Bucket List'. They've come a long way.
"People gauged a bit of interest in it but we never had the discipline to take it seriously and it fizzled out," Jaxon said.
Tragedy turns into triumph
A competitive wakeboarder, Jaxon spent most of his time after high school on the water, mastering his tricks and going to university "if I felt like it".
"I was doing Town Planning and was two and a half years through that. I would go to uni if I felt like it, come home and watch Ellen at midday every day and then eat Subway," he said.
"That's probably the most consistent I've ever been with scheduling and routine and that taught me a lot of discipline - you've got to be on time or you miss out on the good stuff."
But his true love was wakeboarding, and he was pretty good. Until tragedy struck.
"One day I went up and landed and my knee went the other way and I did my ACL, MCL and PCL," he said.
I quickly scribbled them all down - I didn't even know there were that many CL's.
"The doctor told me I would never wakeboard again and I was spewing," Jaxon added.
"All my friends were in that scene and I had grown up in it - I didn't want to walk away. So I picked up a camera and started filming my friends."
I couldn't believe I was getting money to do this thing I really loved, it was amazing.
And the rest is history.
No, not really but things did start to happen pretty quickly from there.
Jaxon secured his first commercial gig for eight videos from close friend and Mandurah mayor, Rhys Williams, who was working at The Makers at the time.
"I couldn't believe I was getting money to do this thing I really loved, it was amazing," he said.
"I had never made anything for someone else before so it was a steep learning curve, but I had never even thought of it as being a potential career."
He laughs: "Literally the next week I told my mum I was going to drop out of university."
Word spread quickly around town and Jaxon started making videos for lots of local clients - including the City of Mandurah and Applejack and Moonshine.
The Neverland Boys
If you haven't heard of The Neverland Boys, you are missing out.
A trio of mates adventuring around the world, documenting it through photos, videos and Instagram posts.
They were on Sunrise! Ring a bell yet?
It all started just 20 kilometres off the coast of WA where the quokkas smile for selfies and the water is an out-of-this-world shade of blue - Rottnest Island.
"My friends from high school, Elliott and Zac [White] moved to Rottnest for the summer and were over there living the dream - surfing, jumping off cliffs, diving with seals," Jaxon said.
"I was running my own business at that point but I started going over there for two and then three days a week, and then was spending the whole week over there.
"We were filming and putting it out on the internet on this little platform called Instagram, and, at the time, Rottnest hadn't been documented that much, so it almost felt like we were bringing that to the world for the first time."
In what Jaxon described as "Tinder-esque fashion", the trio started approaching Instagram influencers to collaborate with, but were pretty unsuccessful.
That was, until model Gabby Epstein replied and took the boys up on their offer to show her around Rottnest Island.
"True to her word, she came over with a photographer and brought a bunch of brand stuff which we had never seen before," Jaxon said.
"She exposed us to this world of taking photos with stuff, putting it on your platform and making money.
"We grew 10 or 15,000 followers in the space of three days that week because of her, and her photographer suggested we do it as a full-time job."
The boys could have never expected what came next - an offer from Gabby to join her in Hawaii to make a video for Sony.
All expenses paid.
"It was crazy - the craziest year of my life I think because everything was so new," Jaxon said.
"In a way, you become numb to it quickly because you're getting all of these hyper experiences in such immediate fashion, which is absurd."
Sony loved their video so much, they took the boys on board for their Action Cam series and offered them a flight anywhere in the world to kick-start production.
From there, it was client after client and sponsor after sponsor - all keen to get their hands on a Neverland Boys video featuring their product.
They travelled through more than 15 countries with Busabout, from Europe to Asia, documenting their days.
"One thing led to the next - we just went to wherever the next thing took us and it kind of turned into a blur," Jaxon said.
In a way, you become numb to it quickly because you're getting all of these hyper experiences in such immediate fashion, which is absurd.
Work hard, play hard
Jaxon waffles off some words that don't mean too much to those not wrapped up in the industry - deliverables and such.
While I might not have understood what they meant specifically, I could tell it wasn't all fun and games.
In fact, there was a lot of hard work behind the scenes to fund years of jetsetting from one amazing place to another.
The Neverland Boys reached 90,000 followers on Instagram and started getting deep into brand work. Too deep.
"That was not what we originally started it for so we stopped focusing so much on trying to make money and got more creative, and ironically that's what brought in bigger and better jobs," Jaxon said.
"From there though, we all started to lose interest, or have different interests, so we decided to go our separate ways.
"At the start of 2018, we did our final trip to Montana and then Sri Lanka and that was our big peace out. We left it kind of open, left the pages open, but that was the end of that chapter."
But the boys continued individual contracts with Sony, so Jaxon decided to embark on his next adventure in a bus with a great Aussie road trip.
"I was really keen on the van life. Even though I'm a real creature comfort guy, it really appealed to me," he said.
Just months before, he dislocated his shoulder in France, and then again in Oman. After undergoing surgery back home in Australia, Jaxon spent his months in recovery building out "the bus".
"I moved to the Gold Coast because I thought there was more opportunity there," he said.
"I started getting involved with bigger travel companies and making videos for them. It started small but then caught the attention of tourism companies and boards so I did work for Tourism Queensland and Magnetic Island."
Before he knew it, he was back on a plane and jetsetting around the world, sourcing and creating more content on his own this time.
"I was doing corporate work for Jetstar, ING Bank, Topdeck as well as for other Instagram influencers and bloggers," he said.
But don't be fooled by the romantic notions behind a life of travelling and taking beautiful footage of new and exciting countries.
"There's a stigma that I'm living this glamorous life but 90 per cent of my life is sitting on my laptop editing," he said.
"Some parts are amazing but other parts definitely are not, we just don't document those bits.
"The work banks up and it gets exhausting, plus the other big challenge is creativity, which I think is very finite.
"It can lead to burn out in a lot of people, but I do love it - it's a lot of work but I love it."
Projects in the pipeline
"In 2020, I want to focus on the projects that I've wanted to do for the last two years but have never found the time for - which is once again proving quite hard because things keep coming up," Jaxon said.
But also, because he has so many epic things on the go.
From videos of his mates surfing (and him, so long as the waves are "below hip height" he says) to a documentary on his own dad's comeback from a heart attack to do the Rottnest Channel Swim.
Not that I feel like I know enough to be passing on knowledge, but I feel like the little knowledge I have accumulated could help out a lot of videographers just starting out.
But, possibly his biggest passion project on the drawing board is a full-length wakeboarding feature film.
I know right? How. Cool.
"That is where it all started for me so I want to reconnect with that scene, but make something artsy," he said.
"I'm talking full lighting in every shot, a fabricated storyline and the actors are the wakeboarders.
"I think it's exciting to make something fake and it feels like the natural progression of my filming - it didn't exist at all and some facet of my brain has come up with it."
He also wants to dabble a little more in creative collaboration, and helping the next generation of videographers get started in what can be an extremely competitive industry.
"Not that I feel like I know enough to be passing on knowledge, but I feel like the little knowledge I have accumulated could help out a lot of videographers just starting out," he said.
"My films are almost a catalyst for that - if I could make something that sparks someone's interest in making films and then I could help them out in their starting process, that would make me feel great and possibly get me to heaven."
A place to call home
With almost 50 countries on his list of 'places I've visited', Jaxon said he's glad he can base himself out of Mandurah.
"I feel really lucky being in Mandurah because it is a small up-and-coming place, as opposed to a traditional booming city," he said.
"Growing up here felt very safe and protected - it was so enjoyable, comfortable and friendly-family orientated. There's something about the vibe of the place.
"Mandurah has become my base now - it's so easy here, all my friends are here and it's so nice to reconnect and get back into routine."
But his favourite country? Perhaps an unexpected choice.
"Oman," he said quickly and confidently.
"It was freaking amazing because everything went wrong but it was still great.
"I think that's the best thing about travel - when things go wrong is when you have the best experiences because that's not what you plan for. It catches you off guard and keeps you in the moment."
Did he expect to be on this journey? No. Is he glad he is? Absolutely.
"The stars completely aligned for me to end up on this path, and the same for the other guys I worked with," Jaxon said.
"We were able to create that real niche of mates travelling and the surge in travel content conveniently aligned with when we started travelling.
"I really wouldn't change it for anything - the experiences I have been lucky enough to have at such a young age is crazy."
'I'm just trying make people laugh'
It worked. As I transcribe, I cringe at the amount of times I'm in fits of giggles during our interview.
But anyone who follows Jaxon on Instagram would have noticed his quirky captions and funny one-liners that make up some of his best work.
"I'm just trying to make people laugh," he said.
"I'm still trying to figure out my vlogging style but it has definitely turned more into storytelling, which I think is where I want to take it.
"But more seriously, there's a massive stigma associated to the Instagram world and it discredits the professional videography that I pride myself on.
"A lot of people don't realise there are a lot of entrepreneurial minds behind the selfies. As much as it is a bit of a gallery, it's also a really good catalyst for any kind of business."
He literally finishes our interview by asking me to include something about his secret talent.
So, here it is - Jaxon can clamp his hands together in a way that makes the strangest noise I've ever heard.
You bet I tried it and definitely couldn't do it, but I also think it might lead to arthritis, so I would suggest just keeping an eye on that Jek.
To keep up with all the latest from Jaxon Foale, follow him on Instagram.
The next Mandurah Millennials on a Mission profile will delve deeper into the life of one of the Peel region's most dedicated volunteers, brightest minds and the latest winner of the Youth Volunteer of the Year award.