(L-R) DOP Ben Nott, Kriv Stenders and Jamie Leslie.
Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to film and TV first assistant director Jamie Leslie, who died on Friday from cancer. He was 62.
His final film in a distinguished 38-year career was Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.
“Not only was he an industry legend but he was an incredible mentor for me and a huge reason that film came to be,” Stenders says.
“Jamie came on early in pre-production when the film was teetering on the edge of an abyss. We weren’t bonded, we lost $2 million two weeks before shooting, we had no tanks, choppers or guns and we were running on fumes longer than I ever thought was humanly possible.
“But never once did he waver. He was my rock and every hour, every day we just worked the problem, until there was the next one. He never once doubted me or my producing team.
“By the end of the shoot I loved him like a father. I learnt so much from him and he treated everyone on the crew with loving respect, but also with a firm, but guiding hand.”
Director Daina Reid collaborated with Leslie on numerous productions including Rush, Offspring, Paper Giants: Magazine Wars and Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War.
“Jamie was the most astute and creative of first ADs. He teamed old school organisation with incredible script and story understanding. In the maelstrom of production Jamie was my rock, my parachute, my comic relief. Best of all, he was my friend,” Daina said.
George Adams, who produced and co-created The Doctor Blake Mysteries at December Media, said: “Beyond being brilliant and passionate he was my friend. He was and will be forever cuddly – go well and go fast brother.”
Jamie Leslie with Emma Freeman.
Leslie worked on directors Michael and Peter Spierig’s first film Daybreak in 2007, followed by Predestination and Winchester.
“He helped guide Peter and I from kid filmmakers to leading large movie crews. We learnt so much from him,” Michael said.
In a Facebook post Emma Freeman, who teamed up with Jamie on all six seasons of Offspring and is now directing two episodes of Netflix’s Clickbait, said: “You taught me so much about the joys, craft and discipline of filmmaking. We will all miss your friendship.”
Merran Elliot, who was script supervisor on Danger Close, said: “I loved his sharp wit and dry sense of humour.”
Director Glendyn Ivin, who worked with Leslie on Gallipoli, said: “Jamie taught me so much about the process of filmmaking and helped organise my scattered thoughts on many occasions. He put his heart and soul into making Gallipoli (and every production) to be as good as it could.
“I trusted and respected Jamie so much. He was incredibly patient, wise, loved a good laugh and I’ll always remember his cheeky grin when things were working well, just the way he scheduled it.”
Like so many of his era, Leslie began his career in the early 1980s with Crawford Productions on The Sullivans, Cop Shop and The Flying Doctors.
In 2013 the Australian Directors’ Guild gave him an award for outstanding achievement as a 1st AD.
Among his other credits are Jack Irish, Wentworth, H2O: Just Add Water, Ocean Girl, Bait, Dear Claudia, Stingers and The Lost World.
He is survived by his partner Jane Lindsay, his children Tess and Chris and grandchildren Mason, Hunter and Reggie.