The last

THEY were the original extreme athletes.

In the days before off-the-shelf jump suits, polymers, carbon fibre and GoPro, to get their adrenaline fix these youngsters had to invent their own sports, their own gear and travel to the far corners of the planet.

Film maker Clive Neeson bought together footage of these pioneers right back to their childhoods 45 years ago, but what he intended as a doco of their sporting achievements came out as a wake-up call to save the natural environment, as his heroes recounted the beauty they’d once encountered and how it had suffered over the years.

• In the days before GoPro, getting a camera on your surfboard was a feat of engineering.

• In the days before GoPro, getting a camera on your surfboard was a feat of engineering.

And coming in as a top priority for protection in his doco Last Paradise is WA’s marine environment.

”It is the last great paradise,” Neeson says.

“The film not only reveals why it is the most special place on earth, but how we can develop a culture of innovation to save it for future generations.”

The former physicist had a long-held dream to be a film-maker, but it was while using his old footage to test equipment during the filming of Lord of the Rings in New Zealand that his opportunity came.

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Director Peter Jackson’s team were fascinated, declaring it the best footage they’d seen, and urging Mr Neeson to boil down the hundreds of hours of recording into a feature film.

“They restored it at mates rates,” he says.

WA author and environmental activist Tim Winton launched the sell-out Australian premiere of a film that’s been changing lives.

“People have got back to us saying they are setting off on a new path because of the film,” Mr Neeson says.

A special screening at Fremantle’s Millennium Cinema is a fundraiser for Surfaid, whose founder David Jenkins turned a youthful passion for adventure travel into a humanitarian health organisation in Indonesia.

Last Paradise, with a Q&A with Mr Neeson, is on Wednesday November 16, 7pm.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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