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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Grip, grab! Pinch, nab!
And down to Welling-town
You go, my lad!

Far over the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ‘ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.*

Again, I am miles away from breaking this story in any way shape or form, but I must write about how excited I am that Peter Jackson and (presumably) Weta Studios got the final go-ahead to start filming The Hobbit here in New Zealand. All is basically as it should be, with Jackson and partner Fran Walsh behind the scenes as executive producers. One of my favourite directors has been appointed to the helm, one Guillermo del Toro, he who also directed both Hellboy films, Pan's Labyrinth and Blade II. (In related news, del Toro is also signed up to do a remake of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness in 2010, so I am very keen on this as well). Also, two key re-signings for this next Middle Earth movie are the actors Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis, cast again as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively.

But then, you probably already knew all of this! Since I am lucky enough to live in Wellington, that means I'll be in "Hobbit Central", at least as far as where most of the cast and crew base themselves for the 18-24 months it'll likely take them to shoot these films. You see, and this is something else you also probably already knew, they're actually doing two films, not just the one. At first I thought they were going to split the Hobbit story itself into two films, which in my opinion could be easily done as there's lots of story to go around. Rather, they are doing all of The Hobbit in the first film (hopefully it will clock in at four hours - bring it!), and then they are going to do a second film that covers the gap of 60-odd years between the end of the story of The Hobbit until the beginning of the story of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Now, I'm no avid student of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, having only read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit a few times over the years, as there is a staggering amount of further material Tolkien created regarding his Middle Earth, including the entire language of the Elves to say the least. I do not think there exists a book that was written by Tolkien to cover this particular gap between his stories, so it will be very interesting to see where they go with it.

I'm sure that the most die-hard of Middle Earth fans have more than a few strongly held opinions about what should and should not be included in such a work, and I hope that the producers and directors involved in these film projects pay them some attention. After all, if nothing else, this is the very fan base they are courting and counting upon, albeit to less of a degree than they were prior to the release of Fellowship - now that these films set in Middle Earth have a wider fan base than they ever did. Plus, I think The Hobbit has always been the most popular and accessible of the famous works of Tolkien. So I guess they could cut a little fast and loose with the story-making for this second Hobbit film and damn the consequences regarding Tolkien's staunchest fans' opinions on the matter.

No matter what, I know I am eager to see how it all plays out and I am going to do my best to see as much of the movie sets as possible, once the film-making begins. While much of the location shooting for the LOTR trilogy occurred in and around Wellington, obviously not all of it was shot here. Among other things, I am very curious about what will serve as Lonely Mountain, one of the most compelling locations described in anything I've ever read. I am also thinking they will go back to the original Shire, which was up in the Waikato, specifically in Matamata. It's only a few hours away so no matter what, if and when the Shire becomes open to the public for a viewing, then I'm there! Can you say 'road trip'?

One of the nurses I work with rode her horse and was in costume for one of the many battle scenes in one of the LOTR movies, and her dad actually made it on screen a few times as an extra for Peter Jackson's King Kong. Andrew and Pete, two vets I work with, both served as on-site veterinarians for a day of filming for Peter Jackson's films in the past, so if I am even luckier than I already have been, I may be able to land a spot as an extra in one of these Hobbit movies. If I don't - and I don't expect to! - it certainly won't be for lack of trying.

But as your faithful man on the street here in Wellywood, I will endeavour to get you some good bits of goss regarding the filming of the two Hobbit movies, and maybe even a picture or three of a set, should they allow it! There's bound to be more than a few celebrity-sighting opportunities downtown, but I'm not going to be an obnoxious tourist should I see anybody famous.

All I can say is that I will try and emulate this guy’s devotion and tireless efforts in regards to finding his lost wedding ring. I'm so glad this particular story had a happy ending, and I thought it was a natural and humourous tie-in to the recent news of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Weta Studios landing the Hobbit project.

Well, I'll put in the same kind of dedication and focus as he did finding his ring to covering the filming. But I ain't spending no $1500 for anything!

That is, unless you count up the number of coffees and train tickets I'll have consumed along the way ...
* Used without permission from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Do yourself a favour, and buy a copy today and read it before the movie comes out!


Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

As one who some folks thought of as a Hobbit when I was in college—no longer: I now have hair on my head and little on my feets—I really look forward to seeing the film.

Brooksie, when you go to see those movie sets, could you maybe please take a camera and share the sights?

11:20 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Like you, I can't wait to see these films either Nick. So much so that I'll do my best to get out and visit some of the sets. If they are open to the public I'll be there with the camera, don't you worry!

10:37 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

That’s great, Brooksie. I wish that I could see/explore those sets with you.

BTW, do you know if any of the sets from the Lord of the Ring films still exist?

10:55 PM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Yep, Nick, there are a few bits of the original sets still standing, although if I'm not mistaken, that one 'Sample Home' in Hobbiton/the Shire is the only real deal still left. There are countless organised tours that will take you to shooting locations, and I had the good fortune to see a really cool one while jetboating on the Shotover River in Queenstown last March!

5:59 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

If you’re around those sets, Brooksie, carry a camera. Please.

7:13 PM  

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