“Dear Kobe,

If I could have a chance to say one more thing to you, it would be” Thank you”, for lighting up my path. I am a Girl Dad and I am a Husband and I am a family man above anything else.

Rest In Paradise.”

It’s taken some time to write about this experience, one that I wanted to share almost straight away, but something held me back.

A friend Rush asked for advice on how to light a super high profile Basketballer on a mini doc style project. Being a BBall fan I was immediately intrigued by the Idea.
“Let’s do it..”

I got the scope for the shoot and added my 2c..Immediately, “I know what we need to make this happen!”

A Big soft source and a 3 Micro’s would do it!

I was going to light and shoot Kobe.. SpaceX through a skrim is what I was thinking, Until I heard that the room was too small for that setup! Dial it back Marky.. They said. 🙁
Not happy, but let’s go!

There’s a certain something about A lists stars and athletes that sends the team around them a bit silly!
Producers, PR people and agents all gave the film crew and other media the scoop on how to be when Kobe enters. Don’t this, don’t that, don’t shake his hand don’t ask for pics blah blah….
Lights are set and Cameras are ready… I went for a Doppio with a Snapbag for the key, just making it as I was fighting a huge range of windows around the room.

Kobe enters the room after an entourage of agents and PR crew. “What’s up everyone”??
Kobe busts down all of the anxieties and awkwardness in the room as he introduces himself to every crew member with a warm handshake and a hug.

What a difference in energy. Kobe changed the vibe in the room in such a tangible way it was quite profound.
We mic’d Kobe up and sat him down. I then had to ask him to sit on the opposite side of the sofa that I lit for otherwise it would have been a few more mins of adjusting lights.

He was so chill and such a gentleman to everyone in the room.

“Rolling”: … And the tally lights go red.

Not only did I light this set but there was no sound guy either and luckily I had plenty of sound gear and could hook this up too. I was a bit nervous about this because it was Kobe after all. I sent a return to the camera and had an Iso REC so we were all good!

In the headphones I could hear this rich warm and deep voice of peace. Every answer to a question was a thoughtful introspective story of Kobe’s life experience. Every answer was a journey that he took you on.

Standing just a few feet away from Kobe as he spoke about the most important things in his life I couldn’t help but be drawn to his wedding band. The diamonds gleaming in my direction! The ring wasn’t huge, but what it stood for was filling the room.

He somehow managed to bring his wife Vanessa and his girls into almost all of his answers even when they had nothing to do with the topic, he’d connect the dots and bring them in. What was clear is that his family was a part of everything that he was.

The Morning of the 27th January 2020 I was in Sydney with My family and it was our daughter Layla’s 14th Birthday. As always for a B’day in our fam we are up early putting up streamers and balloons…. At 8:30am I received a txt from my brother with a news article. “Kobe Bryant dies in a Helicopter crash”

I looked at the headline over and over and over and I could not believe my eyes….

To be honest I still find it a bit hard to believe. I spent the following weeks reflecting on what my interactions with Kobe meant for me…. And this is why I will never forget the day I got to light Kobe Bryant.

That day I learned what the Mamba Mentality means! and now I apply it.. And I try to apply it everyday.

That day I learned what it means to be a “Girl Dad” a father that is immersed in his daughters wellbeing, that’s there for every decision, for every breakdown for every breakthrough. I have two, so I get to do this twice!

That day I learned how much my wife means to me and who I am. I now include her in everything as she is a part of everything that I am.

Dear Kobe,

If I could have a chance to say one more thing to you, it would be” Thank you”, for lighting up my path. I am a Girl Dad and I am a Husband and I am a family man above anything else.

Rest In Paradise.

Mark Naidoo,