The Hobart

Local People: Tim Noonan

by Hobart Magazine
Local People: Tim Noonan

A journalist and documentary filmmaker, Tim Noonan has journeyed from the wilds of Tasmania to the far corners of the globe and back again. His latest project, Hunt for Truth: Tasmanian Tiger, on SBS, is an ongoing project that explores the mysteries of his homeland.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?I grew up in Hobart, then took off to live interstate and travel for 20 years – but like so many Tasmanians returned to have kids. It’s like you’re born with a magnet in your heart here and the place just pulls you back.

Tell us a little about your work. I’m a journalist and documentary filmmaker and I’ve always been kinda addicted to loading up my life with extreme experiences, rather than material things. I realised really early on in my career that filming solo and self-shooting my own stories gave me freedom to create incredible opportunities without having to rely on anyone else. It meant I could get better access to people and places that were ordinarily off limits or too expensive for traditional TV crews. I started self-shooting by accident about 20 years ago because I had no-one to film me for an audition at Channel Nine and got hooked on the thrill of being a crew-of-one. 

Tell us about your role on Alone Australia. I was asked to be what’s called the DOP (or Director of Photography) on Alone Australia from the inception of the show because I’d self-shot my own extreme adventure TV series. I had the skills they needed to both teach the participants how to film themselves and shoot the cinematic nature shots and aerials that you see throughout each episode. Before the cast are dropped in the wild to survive, I do an intensive filmmaking bootcamp to take them from zero to hero in just four days. Some people have no idea how to push record on a camera, so for some, it’s a steep learning curve. Our mantra is to film everything – all the highs, lows, excitement and fear. 

Your latest project is Hunt for Truth: Tasmanian Tiger. What motivated you to make this show? I’ve filmed cultures and creatures all over the world teetering on the brink of extinction and after moving back to Tasmania, I couldn’t resist wanting to untangle the mystery of the Tasmanian tiger and attempt to uncover the truth for myself. 

You’ve filmed in extreme places globally. What are the unique challenges of solo filming in the Tasmanian wilderness? Yeah, I’ve shot everywhere from the Amazon, to the Arctic to scorching deserts in Africa and the Tassie wilderness takes the cake. The terrain is so intense, so unforgiving – it feels like it’s this fortress keeping our jewel in the crown (the tiger) hidden. I’ve been on several expeditions for this show that have brought me to my knees. I’ve followed intrepid researchers from the University of Tasmania to the furthest reaches of the island to set trail cameras to monitor wildlife. It means carrying all my provisions and camera equipment which is as physically and mentally testing as the search for the Tiger itself.

What’s next for you? I’m off to shoot season 3 of Alone Australia in a secret location, then I‘m diving right back into the Tasmanian Tiger mystery to reveal some answers to the public, hopefully before we have another baby in September.

Who do you admire? My partner PJ! She is an unsung hero and the rock that keeps our family together.

Favourite podcast or tv show ?My wife and I are quietly addicted to a Youtube series called The Why Files at the moment.

Secret vice? Although I hate to admit it, getting a good coffee seems to be a daily ritual that I associate with getting the day started.

What are you reading now? An epic, unpublished book written by Tigerman – one of the Thylacine eyewitnesses I interview in my show. He’s chronicled his own 20 year search for the creature and written more about the history of the animal than anyone else I’m aware of. Hopefully he’ll release it to the public one day.

What was your first job? Stacking milk at the Mt Nelson store, then drive-thru at Sandy Bay Maccas. Classy.

Your favourite place for…

Breakfast: Bear with Me, South Hobart.

Lunch: Blue Eye, Salamanca.

Dinner: Sonny, in the city.

Dream holiday destination? I often fantasise about sitting on a remote tropical beach with my family without a care in the world – any will do. For solo travel, Papua New Guinea still offers old-school adventure, laced with a little danger that gets me excited.

Favourite Tasmanian secret? The South West wilderness. It’s one of the last great frontiers left on earth.

 

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July 2024

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