Free Spirit - An Interview with Dudu Levi and Julien Bru

May 20, 2024

Free Spirit - An Interview with Dudu Levi and Julien Bru

Dudu Levi (FutureFly/Gunsails) finally released his long awaited film “FREE SPIRIT”. In collaboration with filmmaker and freestyle windsurfer Julien Bru the two travelled to Dudu’s home in Israel, where they dedicated almost 2 weeks to capture the film. The result is a stunning portrait of one of the most stylish freestyle windsurfers out there, supercharged with the feel-good attitude everyone on the Freestyle Pro Tour has come to love about Dudu. Curious about the behind the scenes of the project, the FPT caught up with both Dudu and Julien to interview them about the project. Take a look at it below, but before you do, make sure to watch “FREE SPIRIT” first!

FPT: How have you been lately Dudu and Julien? Any exciting windsurfing projects and any wind?
Julien: Hello! This winter was a bit busy with a lot of corporate work in Paris, unfortunately not so much related with windsurfing. I’ve also been working on my first feature documentary about a trip with kitesurfers and surfers that I’m really excited to release soon! And of course I have been working on the film I made with Dudu.
Dudu: My life went through an unexpected change lately with the situation in Israel. It prevented me from traveling and windsurfing this winter. At the same time it was low season without many windy days. Luckily now spring makes it better, and I have more time in the water again.

FPT: The windsurfing world is finally getting to see your much anticipated film collaboration. Can you give us a quick synopsis of “Free Spirit”?
Dudu: The project is a glimpse into my life at home in Israel, and the way I live as a windsurfer.
Julien: This project with Dudu was in the pipe for over a year and half now, the objective was to approach a documentary style and follow Dudu in his daily life in his home country. In a nutshell you’ll discover how it feels to be an Israeli windsurfer and you’ll follow Dudu’s quest for good windsurfing conditions and also his approach to a better way of living and finding peace.

Picture by Louis J Mchugh

FPT: When, where and how long did you film for this project?
Dudu: We started shooting the project in May of 2023, with a total of 10 days in Israel. We also flew to Gruissan in France and to the Freestyle Pro Tour event in Vieste, Italy to capture some more footage. Finally, the film also incorporates some video from my training sessions in Morocco and Greece.

FPT: Julien, you documented Dudu’s windsurfing life in Israel. For you as an outsider, how was your experience there?
Julien: It was a really interesting experience to come to Israel for this movie. This is a country very different from mine (France) and I had no clue of how the windsurfing community was established over the country. I really love to discover new places, meet new people and experience new habits, and Israel was an incredible source of wealth for this. As a film crew (I was filming with Louis, a really talented photographer and one of my best friends) we were very surprised with the warm welcome we had from the local community. People were really involved in making this film happen which was great to see. I was also impressed with the amount of good places for sailing there, but I don’t want to give to much away here, you’ll see it all in the movie!
Dudu: Yeah! In general in Israel there are many windy days in flat water like in the sea of Galilee, in the mediterranean sea between seasons and in the summer and in Eilat. Its really attractive for many windsurfers to start freestyle, which explains why there are so many excellent Israeli freestylers.

Picture by Louis J Mchugh

FPT: This is a really collaborative project, how was it to work so closely with each other?
Dudu: I felt good chemistry from the first moment I met Julien and I knew it would be fun to work with him. He is super artistic which makes working with him special and he has a good sense of humor, which means that you can spend quality time with him even without the camera. We’ve become really good friends!
: Beyond being a talented sailor, Dudu is a friend. We met on the Freestyle Pro Tour and since then we built a strong relationship. As a director it is so nice to be able to work with high level athletes like him because the possibilities on the water are multiplied. I can focus on finding the right angle and composition, because I know that no matter where I ask Dudu to do a trick, he’ll do it, and do it good. Also as an amateur freestyle sailor I am analysing all the styles from the freestylers and to me Dudu has one of the best styles ever. When we shoot in slow motion on the water and we look at the shots at the end of the day it’s always a magic moment!

FPT: So Julien, did you also get to hit the water there? Rumours are you are quite the freestyler yourself!
Julien: Yes! Dudu was always pushing me to go on the water whenever he had a break! Imagine filming the best moves you can think of for 2 hours straight and then it’s your turn so you’re pumped to go and try! Then the adrenaline quickly goes down as you remember that you’re still learning how to do a Culo haha! But yes I definitely had a chance to try out all the spots!

Picture by Louis J Mchugh

FPT: Can you tell us a bit more about the creative process for the video?
Dudu: We didn’t really have a script and we just decided that Julien would come, and we would experience the adventure of traveling over the country wherever the wind would take us. We were hoping that that would build the story for us and I think we succeeded!
Julien: Dudu is a very good sailor but also a very creative mind! It was the first time really that I was not directing a documentary all by myself. Firstly because I didn’t know the country and the place we’ll shoot , but also because Dudu had a clear vision of what he wanted for this movie. We had dozens of calls to talk about the ambitions and direction of the movie, what he wanted to show, what axis to focus on. At the end it was a teamwork really, and I think we’re both happy with the outcome. It was also funny because Dudu has 3 ideas per minute, which means that sometimes I had to take it back to the right track so we don’t get lost in the main line of the story haha!

FPT: Julien edited the film. Dudu, how was it for you to wait for so long and finally see it all come together?
Dudu: The schedule for the release was earlier of course, but the situation at home did not allow me to keep working on some parts to finish the project. It was actually really nice to relive the memories again after I had almost forgotten about them!

Picture by Louis J Mchugh

FPT: After spending a lot of time editing the film, whats your main takeaway from this project Julien, what do you hope the audience takes home?
Julien: I hope people get a better insight of who Dudu Levi is, further than just him being a super talented sailor. What it takes for an Israeli guy, coming from a little kibbutz far away from the water, to become one of the best freestylers in the world is really impressive. On a more philosophical point of view, the film will make you think about “is the destination more important than the journey? “, about which Dudu shares some interesting thoughts.

FPT: Dudu you are always releasing big and high quality video projects, collaborating with countless video creators. What is the value of these projects for you? Why is it important for freestylers to put effort into them and not just some social media clips?
Dudu: For me, the world of videography and movies was connected to windsurfing from the very beginning. After watching a lot of windsurfing movies in the past that taught me, I always got inspired to keep pushing myself. It’s really important to me to pass this feeling on to other windsurfers around the world. I love to see quality and authentic content about athletes, especially in water sports. I feel that this is the art that I create and I enjoy sharing it especially that my level has also improved and can motivate the new generation to get better and enjoy the sport like I do.

Picture by Louis J Mchugh

FPT: What’s next? Any other big projects coming up?
Dudu: There are many new ideas and I need to find a way to create them. In the meantime, going back to travel will make me feel good and give me time to think and cook something new for all of you!
Julien: For now I wrote down a few ideas but nothing is in the pipeline right now. I hope this movie will also inspire riders/sponsors/creators to push the creation of such videos because it is good for our sports, and I think we’re on the right way. We have amazing sailors and amazing creators, when I see projects such as Pasko from Maarten Molenaar, or videos by Felix Volkhardt, Alex Mertens, Adam Sims, George Grisley, Raphael Bauer, AirCamp, etc. I can only rejoice about the future of media production in our sport.

FPT: That’s great to hear, we’re looking forward to see more! Thanks so much for the interview!


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