2011
10.21

Big Ozzy: photo by Rick Jackovich

 

‘Last Paradise’ …. the amazing premiere of the directors adventure cut

F­orty years ago, Clive Neeson and his mates started exploring the adventure playgrounds of New Zealand and the world.  Along with their adventures came the realisation that these paradises were not always going to remain untouched. There were indeed going to be global issues to come.

 

The film ‘Last Paradise’ covers the journey of a group of maverick adventurers who, whilst the rest of the world were worried about the cold war and the atomic age, opted to drop-out of the mainstream and explore a road less travelled. An adventure they took to by surfing, snowboarding, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, skiing and mountaineering.

 

In fact, they invented much of the equipment and pioneered new sports. A concept that is disappearing from our culture. “The progenitor of innovation is rapidly disappearing from our culture with the availability of ready-made toys, solutions and the consumer economy. Where necessity was the mother of invention, the necessity has gone.”

Poster for Last Paradise

Neeson’s love of adventure, outdoors, film and his motivation for thrill seeking was inherited from his cinematographer parents. In fact he spent his early childhood with his parents in East Africa as they filmed the wildlife there.

This was then juxtaposed by a move to the sleepy town of Raglan in the ‘60s. Life in New Zealand back then was pretty conservative but Neeson and his friends found escape from this in the stunning natural surrounds.

 

Using ingenuity, they created their own fun and improvised the filming of it along the way. This not only set the path for an entire industry of thrill-seeking fun amongst the likes of AJ Hackett, but it also started off an entire archive of adventure footage that would create the basis for Neeson’s ‘Last Paradise’ four decades later.

 

The process required five years of going through over 60 hours of film and narrowing it down to 10 hours of the best quality film, which was then mastered from a variety of formats to 35mm quality.  It was while working at Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Production that Neeson was encouraged to turn his archive of footage into a feature film. “I was invited by Jon Newell to trial my footage for big screen conversion. The results were amazing and I decided to work with them to create the film. It was a great experience, the best technology in the world, but of course it doesn’t come  cheap.”

 

The budget estimate was a million but the prospect of recouping his financial investment was not so much of a factor for Neeson. “The true meaning of wealth is clearly defined in the film itself. For sure I will recoup my investment. I made the film to profoundly change the world. Now the film is working whilst I’m sleeping.“

First snowboard 1970's Photo Richard Palmer

“To capture a wide audience you need to provide both entertainment and thought provoking content. Intrigue is the seed of education. Last Paradise uses subliminal education through the hook of the exciting Kiwi adventure story. There is never a feeling you are watching anything but fun entertainment. Yet you have enlightened and inspired on many levels. The film leads you to work the answers out for yourself and that is the most effective and enjoyable path to enlightenment.

The film has garnered much critical including: Best Eco-Adventure at XDance in USA (the Academy awards of action sport films), Selection for the ‘Best Of Banff’ Canada 2011 and Most Popular NZ Film, at the last NZ International Film Festival. But it was in California, at the Santa Barbara International film festival and a special event screening at the Arlington Theatre where it was really recognised as a “new genre.”

 

Over 45 years, we witness on film full undeniable evidence of climate change. And Neeson hopes that this isn’t a message lost. “The loss of paradise is an insidious process. During the last five years of making of Last Paradise, politicians have already set the scene for the demise of the ‘last paradise’ which features in the film. One feels not hope but despair. A key aim of the film is to show why this occurs and to create value of what is left. As for my greatest hope, it’s that the key politicians get to see the film.”

 

Excerpts taken from an article in M2magazine.co.nz

SteepEdge is showing a special directors adventure cut of 40 minutes. The full feature film can be seen in cinemas worldwide from autumn 2011. SteepEdge plans to bring you the full 90-minute feature film online in 2012.

 

Further details on www.lastparadisefilm.com

 

Whale & Sailor Photo Margareta Engstrom

 

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