Never Give Up Q&A: John Hicks awarding winning photography and film director

Throughout the months of November, December and January Sands Beach Active ambassador Helle Frederiksen of Denmark used the resort as her winter training base. During her time on the resort we introduced Helle to award winning photography and film director, John Hicks. John’s previous clients have included John Travolta, Lance Armstrong, Dame Ellen MacArthur and many others. John had expressed an interest in Helle’s story and approach to life, a story of inspiration capable of reaching out to so many. A London 2012 Olympian, Helle’s approach to life is strong and motivational, suffering severe injuries, setbacks and criticism during her career Helle has learnt to rise above defeat to prove she is one of the world leading triathletes. Her recent victory over multiple world champions at Ironman 70.3 San Juan, Puerto Rico was proof enough that Helle as at the top of her game.

Whilst based on Sands Beach Resort through the month on January, Helle and John got to work on a short artistic film, titled Never Give Up. Shot entirely on the island of Lanzarote, with all water footage shot at Sands Beach Hotel using the Plaza Verde competition pool.

Never Give Up is set for release this coming Wednesday (27th March) and will be hosted throughout the hotel television systems and the Active Lanzarote YouTube channel. The film not only portrays a strong and powerful message but also acts as a fantastic tribute to the island of Lanzarote.

We recently presented 3 questions to John Hicks about his interest in Helle, his thoughts behind the film and what he took away from the project.

What interested you about Helle’s story?

I think what interests me most about Helle’s story is that it is a story of personal triumph over adversity.
In this age of overnight success stories we’re led to believe that victory should be quick, easy and painless so we are constantly disappointed when we fail to live up to that ideal.
Scratch the surface and the reality is that success is always achieved at a price – hard work, sacrifice, determination and single minded self belief – no matter what.

This I think is Helle’s story.

On the surface she may well look like the beautiful blonde who got dealt a great hand and an easy ride to success – but the truth goes much deeper.
Severe injuries, setbacks, criticism, crushing disappointment and soul destroying negative feedback – these were just some of the obstacles that Helle has had to overcome to pursue her dream.
Never Give Up is a story of a professional triathlete but it is also a lot more than that. It is a story that speaks to us all. A story of empowerment – that I hope will inspire others to follow their dreams – no matter what.
I’m a creative, not a sportsman, so it is interesting for me to parallel Helle’s story with my own and those I see around me who try to fulfil their ‘greatness’.
As my father once said ‘it is not by every rising that we find our destiny but by rising every time we fall’… I have fallen a lot of times. So has Helle…So has every one on this long, lonely road to achieve of our best and determine our destiny but, like Helle, I am enriched and empowered by every experience I have had along the way and I want to share that in Helle’s story.

What were your thoughts and visions when shooting the film?

I think as an outsider looking in on the world of a professional triathlete I wanted to humanise Helle’s story and visually relate it to a wider audience. I wanted to portray the absolute total focus and commitment needed to achieve results but more importantly I wanted to break down the stereotype of the robotic, machine like triathlete and expose the emotional vulnerability behind the toughened exterior.
Instinctively I like to use symbolism in my work and that’s where the idea for the flare came in because you have this beautiful blonde being as the only colour and light – a feminine force in this dark epic landscape and she is lighting and leading the way for all of us. Battling against nature (as she does against her competitors and her critics and setbacks) but at the same time becoming a part of the landscape – formed, humbled and inspired by it.

What things did you take away from the shoot about Helle and her approach to life?

I think what really inspired me was how dedicated Helle life is to her craft (profession). She is a true professional who always gives of herself. No matter how bad the weather is or how unwell she might be feeling Helle’s is out there every day training and pushing herself to go beyond her best. I think she wants to make her life count for something and her approach to it is really motivated and motivating. Like me she has chosen to follow her heart, to follow her dreams no matter how hard it may be because if you love what you do then you are already on the road to find happiness and contentment in your life. The fact that the road is difficult and never straight only makes the successes you have along the way so much sweeter when they come.

View here  all photos from the video shoot with Helle Frederiksen.