iDidTht: Are you scared of anything?
Lee, while digging into a build-your-own taco (he even builds his own food guys) at the tequila bar, has just spent two and a half hours captivating us with jaw-dropping stories from his life as a Director. The best damn two and a half hours of our lives! Sam Kelly, his Producer, only gently interjecting every now and again to correct Lee on dates or tiny details, fondly looks on as we sit on the edge of our seats only stopping to breathe or gasp. She corrects him once more ‘Actually he’s petrified of flying, which is ironic because he flies more than most.’
Lee’s fear of flying came from almost crashing TWICE on two separate light aircrafts during his first gig as a Director back in 1999 while filming a series called Wings over Africa. But that wasn’t nearly the most surprising thing about him. Lee has always had a bit of ‘crazy film industry guy’ in his blood. His father, Tommy Doig, was a war journalist and during the 80’s started working in New York for networks like NBC. He soon became the right-hand man to news anchor and correspondent Peter Jennings. The two traveled the world from one warzone to the next. When Tommy was 72 he was still shooting on the front lines in Afghanistan #BadAss
Lee might not have planned to follow in Tommy’s footsteps but it seems like destiny had other plans. Lee jokingly reflects ‘My mom divorced my dad because he was never home, so I thought it was a good idea to do the same.’
Lee grew up on the South Coast and while academics was never really his thing due to his Dyslexia, he discovered he had a mean kick and soon started playing soccer professionally. He started out as a sound guy in the industry because in those days, Lee explains ‘People wouldn’t let you near cameras.’ By 23 he found himself in London and instead of working the bar scene or au pairing, like most sane people or Mary Poppins, he lied himself into one of London’s top entertainment/news companies.
Lee: ‘I just had to get close to a camera somehow and I thought how hard could editing really be?!’ Turns out it’s a lot harder than he thought and Lee was fired, and rightly so…
But the young man was filled to the brim with dogged determination and charmed his way all the way up to the 25th floor of the Canary Wharf building. There, at the Mirror Group, media personality, journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter soon recognised the potential in him (or just recognised the adrenalin coursing through his war journalist blood) and after a few months of spending every free moment of his day learning the ropes from the crew, the 24-year-old Lee had worked himself up to a fully fledged camera operator. From that moment the camera and Lee were inseparable.
Always after the next adrenalin rush, Lee found himself in a post 911 Afghanistan were he was covering the war for an upcoming documentary which Lee describes as ‘ending up to be a bunch of awful propaganda’. With no producers or crew and only one sound guy IF he was lucky, Lee was literally dodging bullets in a warzone. But he did manage to capture some incredible stories following soldiers, helicopter pilots, surgical doctors and even those hectic guys from Special Forces, despite often having to jump into a Black Hawk in the middle of the night not knowing where he was going.
iDidTht: Are you an adrenaline junkie?
Lee: I think I must be…
iDidTht: What were you looking for out there?
Lee: I wanted to tell unusual stories. I suppose it was something in my bloodline as well. I always said I wasn’t gonna do it and then when I got home after Afghanistan my phone didn’t stop ringing. The international news companies heard I shot the American Special Forces and they didn’t stop calling. They were offering me ridiculous money to go and shoot crazy things. But I couldn’t anymore, it was all too much. And eventually, I just packed up everything in Joburg and drove to Cape Town.
Sam: He came to see me.
Lee: Yes, I came to see Sam.