Meet the Million Dollar Crew: Jean Jacques Wallis
More than 29,00 people from 125 countries submitted their favorite HERO9 Black clips for the chance to be featured in the third annual Million Dollar Challenge highlight reel. Only 56 creators made the cut, earning almost $18,000 a piece.
This series celebrates these creators and their creative processes. We hope these behind-the-scenes looks inspire you as much as they did us.
Bru, you have to check out the Million Dollar shot captured by South African skydiver Jean Jacque Wallis. Turns out, he borrowed a HERO9 Black from GoPro Family Member Chris Rogers and ended up capturing gold!
Here’s how it played out from Jean Jacque’s perspective.
GoPro: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Jean Jacques: I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have been living outside Cape Town the last few years chasing the mountains of my dreams.
When did you start skydiving and BASE jumping?
I have always been interested in flying, from a very young age. I learned how to Skydive right after my 16th bday. I'm 31 now with over 10,000 skydives, thousands of speedflying hours and roughly 1,000 base jumps. I started Speedflying in 2011 and did my first BASE jumps in 2013. For me, it's never been about adrenaline, it's more about the amazing calm feeling that flying gives you as you enter the air; living in the moment doing cool stuff with your friends is what its all about.
I taught myself how to Speedfly and its been one of my greatest adventures. Speedflying and Base Jumping has show me the world in the most amazing ways. The sky is a playground, go get it. I never fly beyond my skill level, even though to others it may seems like I push the limits. I know exactly what I'm capable of and I'm always within my margin. The goal is to be the oldest in the sport and be able to do what I do for as long as possible.
How did you get the Million Dollar shot?
Flying the Rock Gap was easy for me, as I've been swooping and flying high-performance wings for over 10 years. I don't see it as terrifying or dodgy. I learned how to swoop professionally in the skydiving world, where we learn to be extremely accurate flying through 5-foot gates over a swoop course. I've also represented South Africa in a Canopy Piloting World Champs in the USA. Learning how to swoop in a controlled way for years and years gave me the ability to fly high-performance parachutes with the utmost precision. So, flying the Rock Gap is not something a non-swooper should even think about doing.
I didn't even think the the clip would make the MDC—I was shooting so much amazing wingsuit content at the time! The shot that was was me Celebrating my 4th wingsuit BASE jump off the iconic Lions Head. It is my opinion one of the most technical BASE jumps that exist in the world.
Skydiving and BASE jumping now make up your full-time career, right?
Yes, playing and working and earning a living from skydiving my whole life has been awesome. Skydiving is a lifestyle. I have now started my own BASE jumping and speed flying school, BASE Jump Africa.
What are you going to do with your earnings?
I’m going to invest my share into BASE Jump Africa. The dream goal is to have a tandem BASE jumping and tandem speed flying business. I want to help people gain the right information and knowledge so they can become safe, competent pilots and enjoy the sky like I have for the last 17 years.
What is the most challenging part of you passion-turned-career?
The most difficult thing is to convince people to see the sky as a safe place to play. I believe people have been brainwashed to fear the sky, and I believe, with the right info, this perceptive changes. The only way I can explain it is: Do you like floating in water? If yes, skydiving might be for you. It’s yin and yang; sky vs. water. The feeling of floating in water is the same as floating in free fall—just dry.
Watch the HERO9 Black Million Dollar Challenge highlight reel here.