As some of you may have noticed, my March madness really was spent in Middle-earth! In the month I spent in New Zealand, I had the immense pleasure of visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata. Journey with me now to the Shire to experience your own adventure in Hobbiton!
And please feel free to peruse the photos below!
A quaint little home
Which way to go?
A vegetable garden
Barefoot in Hobbiton!
A very happy hobbit!
The tree atop the hill
The door is cracked… Bilbo must be in! Or is it Frodo?
Hmm, definitely Bilbo, since we know Frodo is out reading his book
MIRAMAR, New Zealand — The director’s tent. Inside a sound stage or outside on location, it is a constant and central fixture on a movie shoot. It is home base for Peter Jackson and his team.
It is sacred ground – well almost.
The decisions made inside it, by the team, under Jackson’s direction, are crucial to the project where it is determined what will later happen in front of the camera.
So every day, whatever happens to a set or a soundstage overnight, the tent is there set up and waiting for the core of the shooting unit.
Editor Jabez Olssen, Script Supervisor Victoria Sullivan and First Assistant Director Carolynne Cunningham call it home during the shoot. Cunningham is out a lot, Olssen and Sullivan less so and Producer Zane Weiner is always near. Jackson’s assistant Sebastian Meek is in and out at all times, bringing badly needed tea and watching the door from outside to eliminate distractions inside.
Jackson lives on tea and Meek has a talent for having it handy at the perfect moment.
SETTING THE SCENE
In April, 2012, as a representative of fandom via TheOneRing.net, to be on set during five weeks of the filming of the Hobbit films. At the time, it was still scheduled to be two movies and the production had just settled in to shoot in studio instead of on location. Much was unknown then, that now is completely familiar to fans.
When I first arrived at Stone Street Studios, the publicity team took me to set, showed me the ropes and left me to my own devices during the rest of my stay to meet folks and get interviews, which was great. No time and no need for babysitting.
I was there to be a good guest and to observe. Two weeks later I was definitely convinced I had no chance of talking to Peter Jackson, except for an occasional, “Hello, how are you getting on?” from him during my time there.
Fans world-wide know from production diaries, how exhausted Jackson gets during the shooting phase of filmmaking. It is important to really understand why.
Peter Jackson is a busy guy. Particularly when he is shooting, there is a lot to do in a day and a lot of people that need to understand his vision in order to do their jobs well; he is the hub of the great spinning wheel.
He is the director, a writer and a producer — each a big job on its own. Many films have one of each of those, or several of some, all working together. But Jackson was all of them at once and combining titles didn’t mean there was less work to be done. Just because he was reviewing shots didn’t mean the script didn’t need his touch or that the art department didn’t need his input as a director or the next day’s schedule didn’t need approval. Others were partners on all of these fronts but they also required Jackson.
In a day he might need to meet with the effects supervisor, set designers, concept designers, costume designers, the composer or see actual costumes for approval or changes to name just a few of the many things that require his time. He will confirm the schedule with his Assistant Director, producers and spend time with the Second Unit Director Andy Serkis to make sure all is to his liking. They need sets built, greens grown, sets decorated, concept guys working ahead, materials guys building everything, maximizing actors’ time, feeding all of those people, screening extras, bringing in the right number of prosthetic artists and on and on. In short, there is never a shortage of people who need Jackson’s input to work on his vision and it takes the logistics of, dare I say, planning a battle with five armies.
In short, he has to sign off on pretty much everything.
Those are the reasons “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and his other Hobbit movies are genuinely Peter Jackson movies. It also means he is booked.
THE FINAL HOURS
And so it was, the last day of my time on The Hobbit set, after several assurances that it would happen — it did.
Lunch happened and on the location set of Dale, up on a hill, I was invited to that director’s tent to sit and talk with PJ, just the two of us alone. (One editor asked me if we ate together in the tent but I don’t think so, but why many memories are crystal clear of that meeting, I just have no idea.)
I had been inside before, but not often. The day I shadowed him, I spent several hours, trying to melt into the background. This was his sanctuary and office.
The winners of last month’s Hobbit Fan Contest that got to go to New Zealand and watch an in-progress cut of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and experience the beautiful scenes of the north and south islands and the hospitality of Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand, won their spots by producing short films.
As reports from the experience suggest, there was a great bonding of the 75 winners and their guests during the week-long tour of Middle-earth. These bonds are on display in a “thank you” video that the group organized to give to Peter Jackson and all the many folks who helped make the trip amazing. There is even a nod to TheOneRing.net which honestly touches us.
Turns out that crew can make a pretty great video with parts from all around the world. Their sincerity and appreciation really comes through and will make all fans proud. Enjoy! #HobbitFanContest
Brisbane tabloid The Sunday Mail sent writer Neala Johsnon across the pond to New Zealand in June 2013 for a stint on the set of The Hobbit during pick-ups. This article finally popped up in the paper’s mag last weekend.
As The Sunday Mail — especially its longer, feature-style magazine articles — doesn’t really make its way online at all, here’s the article re-typed in full for TORn readers. Beware minor movie spoilers, there are a couple of new lines of movie dialogue below and more information about the situation in the ruins of Dale in the lead up to the final battle. (more…)
Our French friends Tolkiendrim today revealed a brand-new still of Gandalf and Bard conferring urgently within the ruins of Dale.
They also teased that they’ll be debuting a long set report (50 pages long, apparently?) on Monday with inside details and interviews from their staffer Benjamin’s time on set in 2013. We’ll be endeavouring to bring you translations of all inside goss. (more…)
This adorable video makes an excellent addition to Air New Zealand’s more lighthearted and fun approach to safety videos shown at the beginning of every flight.
Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi has taken two Middle-earth fans and placed them in the middle of an Epic Journey, surrounded by Hobbits, Dwarves, Orcs and Elves, and some of them are the actual actors from the films. All the bases are covered, seat belts, electronic devices, life vests, etc, but there is a very definite Middle-earth vibe going on. (more…)
We’ve seen lots of photos of the Dale set in that was erected at Maupuia bush on the Miramar peninsula not too far from stone street Studios. But I don’t think we’ve ever seen one from above. Until now.
Ringer Duncan sends us the below image that he discovered on applemaps (which, weirdly, redirects to googlemaps but yano whatevs).
As contests go, this is one for the ages. And it should be, since it heralds the beginning of the end of the final installment of Middle-earth movies at the hands of Peter Jackson and his movie-making team. It’s also the final cinematic trumpet blast from the director’s home country of New Zealand that has stood in as a real-world wonder for the fictional world of author J.R.R. Tolkien.
Fans from around the world will have a chance to win a trip to see New Zealand in all its glory if they win the trip that will take them eventually to Wellington to watch the first screening of “The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies,” with its director. Along the way they will stop at iconic locations the length of the island nation that helped create the cinematic Middle-earth. No doubt that will include a stop to the Hobbiton Movie Set on the farm where more than a decade ago, the literary village and home of Frodo Baggins left the imagination and books to became tangible as it was constructed for Jackson’s LOTR trilogy.
Many websites will help host the contest and TheOneRing.net will sponsor the portion of the contest that is for “the rest of the world.” Read on for details!
HOW TO ENTER
Entering the contest is a multi-step process (and this is not a replacement for the rules) but each entrant will need a Twitter or Facebook account to get things started. Then four challenges will be presented by each contest sponsor website but the primary judging is to be based on a video participants are asked to submit (two minutes or less). If you want to participate, we urge you to read the rules completely and to comply.
WHO CAN ENTER
Through TheOneRing.net, you can enter if you aren’t from one of the following nations: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom (including Channel Islands & Isle of Man), United States and any country to or on which the United States has embargoed goods or imposed targeted sanctions, such as Cuba.
So readers in Austria, Greece, Romania and the like (just picking off the top of the writer’s head), welcome to the show. For the readers from the nations listed above, your portal to the contest will be elsewhere. For example, those in the United States can go right here.
If you do enter from a nation that isn’t yours, you aren’t eligible so we recommend not trying it. Those wishing to enter TORn’s portal and are from the correct nation need only click RIGHT HERE!
Since it was first announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego on 27 July 2014, upwards of 25,000 people have already registered their interest to participate. We at TORn expect that number to be obliterated quickly.
ABOUT THE PRIZE
Contest winners will land in Auckland, New Zealand, before embarking on a specially designed itinerary to iconic filming locations–the highlight being a special visit to Hobbiton, the famous home of the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Fans will enjoy a private tour through the 12-acre site, with a close-up look at the 44 Hobbit homes. (We have been and maybe its time to trot out those photos and video!)
The Hobbit Fan Fellowship will also visit other key film sites throughout New Zealand’s Middle-earth chosen by Sir Peter Jackson and end in Wellington for the ultimate film fan’s dream – a private screening of the final film, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” with Sir Peter Jackson.
About The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies features a screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers. Production took place at Jackson’s own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.
For more information and to enter The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest visit
For Tolkien fans, 2013 was the year of anticipating the dragon, as fans worldwide grew ever more enthusiastic between the final shot of the billion-dollar “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and the opening of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” in December. The staff of TheOneRing.net has been privileged to participate in many related events, by fans and for fans, and this ‘year of the dragon’ was more exciting than anyone expected! Take a walk down memory lane with us and peruse chapter 2013 of the “fan book of Westmarch” below:
Tolkien Forever “Toast To Tolkien.”
Fans in Los Angeles met at the Cat & Fiddle pub to share a drink and stories of all things Tolkien. The Tolkien Toast is a tradition started by the Tolkien Society to celebrate professor Tolkiens birthday on January 3rd. On that day, fans around the world lift a glass to “The Professor” at 9:00 p.m. local time wherever they may be.
Billy & Dom live fan chat – Merry & Pip reunion special
Our weekly webcast TORn Tuesdays had an exciting January as host Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway snagged an exclusive “reunion” chat with Billy Boyd and Dominic Monahan. Dom discussed the launch of his new series on BBC America: Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, and Billy filled us in on the new album, new album, Blue Sky Paradise, released by his band Beecake.
Dylan Sprouse on TORn Tuesday
Another great TORn Tuesday in January included an interview with guest Dylan Sprouse, star of the hit Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.” A Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award-winner and T.V. star, Dylan chatted about his own, personal love of Tolkien and how generational love of J.R.R. Tolkien is handed down to kids , inspiring them to great things! We hear you, Dylan!
Sylvester McCoy live fan chat
TORn Tuesdays spent a full hour with Sylvester McCoy and he even played the spoons! Of course, he also touched on his role as Radagast, the wizard, in The Hobbit movies. Have a look (or another look) at this great interview.
Kiran Shah live fan chat a week later! (Archive not available)
In early February actor and stunt man Kiran Shah joined us for an exclusive live chat on . Kiran shared his experiences as a scale scale double for all 5 Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Bilbo) in the LOTR Trilogy and his return to Middle-earth in The Hobbit movies.
Unexpected Art Show – Los Angeles
To kick off TORn’s Oscar Party weekend, TORn held ‘An Unexpected Art Show’ at Lot 613, a blank-canvas special events space in the Historic Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. The show was a unique celebration of artwork from over 30 artists around the world inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Attending in person, and exhibiting their art, were Tim Kirk, who illustrated the 1975 Tolkien Calendar — the first by an illustrator other than Professor Tolkien, and Jerry VanderStelt, an artist producing licensed reproductions for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films. Additional artists include Donato Giancola, Stephen Hickman, and Jay Johnstone.
One Expected Party w/ Dom & Billy and Beecake
Once again, TORn returned to the American Legion in Hollywooed to host the party of all parties on the night of the Academy Awards. Attendees were treated to a live broadcast of the Academy Awards, a photo booth, fabulous food an drink, an amazing auction of LOTR and Hobbit collectibles and the company of Tolkien fans and friends from around the world. Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin, Air New Zealand., Sideshow Toys, The Tolkien Shop, The Noble Collection and Empire Magazine. World-class entertainment at the party included music ensemble Dorian Mirth, Celtic band Emerald Rose, Sir Ian McKellen impersonator Hunter Davis and a grand finale by Billy Boyd’s band, Beecake. Needless to say, a fabulous time was had by all!
AUJ released on DVD
We knew the Extended Edition was coming but fans still bought AUJ on DVD… because we just couldn’t wait to invite Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves into our homes!
DVD press junket (Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Martin Freeman)
While we were all waiting for the release of the AUJ DVD, TORn staffers were able to get exclusive interviews with Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt and Martin Freeman. In these great interviews, the four talented actors shared their experiences preparing for their roles and filming The Hobbit movies If you listened to them before, they’re well worth another listen. If not, what are you waiting for?!
WonderCon – Anaheim – Panel
On March 31st, at the 2013 Wondercon convention, staffers Garfeimao, Josh and Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway presented a panel titled: “TheOneRing.net’s Unauthorized Sneak Peek: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Upwards of 600 people attended as our staff showed excerpts from the WB DOS sneak peak gave their insights to the latest Hobbit news and rumors. Feedback from the attendees was mega-positive.
Tolkien Reading Day
On the 25th of March, the same day of the destruction of the Ring of Power in The Return of the King, fans gather worldwide to celebrate the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and read favorite passages to each other. Tolkien Reading Day was started by the Tolkien Society and celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. TORn coverage here and here.
MTV Movie Awards hosted a fan-voting contest for “BEST HERO” and when we first discovered it, Kirsten Stewart, of Twilight and Snow White fame, was so far ahead of Bilbo it seemed hopeless. Beginning in last place, #VoteBilbo captured the hearts of twitter users around the world and, one by one, Bilbo overtook The Hulk, Batman, Catwoman and Ironman and finally led a heated battle with Snow White herself. An alliance was formed with LOTRProject to track voting in real time and while the battle was epic, and Bilbo came out ahead, the biggest reward was the many new friendships forged over twitter.
C2E2 – Chicago – Panel
TORn staffers were crowd-pleasers once again at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in late April. Staffers entmaiden and Corvar offered a presentation and discussion of all things Hobbit and were a big hit!
Adam Brown live fan chat
TORn Tuesday did it again with an exclusive interview with actor Adam Brown who plays dward Ori in The Hobbit movies.
The Fall of Arthur published – New Tolkien book
A rare and exciting thin happened in April of 2013: a previously unpublished work of J.R.R. Tolkien was released: The Fall of Arthur. Like too many of his works, the narrative poem, edited by his son Christopher, was never finished. Still, as it is, it covers much of the Arthurian legend including Arthur’s expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, Guinevere’s flight from Camelot, the sea battle on Arthur’s return to Britain, Mordred and the tormented Lancelot.
Phoenix Comic Con – Panel
Hitting the con circuit again, staffer Garfeimao brought ‘The Desolation of Smaug: Sneak Peek’ panel to Phoenix.
Trailer 2 released
#Hobbitception Elves reaction video
All the Happy Hobbits, Fili and Kili, set out to do was quickly record their reactions to the 2nd trailer for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” So, still in their pajamas, they set up their camera and started recording their sheer, geeky delight over what they saw. Little did they know that their little recording would be picked up by mainstream news outlets like Entertainment Weekly and Stuff.co.nz. The production and actors also got a kick out of their enthusiasm. From Stuff: “Jackson saw the video and posted it to his Facebook page saying it was “pretty cute”. He then filmed Hobbit cast members Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, and Lee Pace watching their reaction, saying “here’s what I guess you’d call a sequel to that fan video”. More than 20,000 people liked his video of the video, with many applauding Jackson for satisfying The Hobbit’s avid fans. Way to go, Hobbits!
Emporium of Goods launched
Fans worldwide submitted t-shirt designs for TheOneRing.net Emporium, and we had a tough time keeping up with demand!
SDCC – San Diego – Panel & Booth
San Diego Comic Con was just as epic as TheOneRing.net shared booth space with the fine folks at WETA Workshop and Badali Jewelry. Cosplay was out in full force, impression the likes of Evangeline Lilly, Manu Bennett, and Richard Taylor.
#ThankYouPJ fan video project
The final day of filming on The Hobbit trilogy inspired fans worldwide to say “Thank You Peter Jackson” for creating films we love.
Tauriel “It IS out Fight!” poster
Evangeline Lilly supported our efforts for a 5 Army Solution with an amazing poster designed by Badali Jewelry artist David Powell.
Road To DragonCon
New adventurers Doug, Ryan and Katalena joined the 3rd annual Road To DragonCon, meeting Tolkien fans across the country.
The blurriest pic to ever fire up Tolkien fandom.
S.H.I.R.E Project (Sharing The Hobbit to Improve REading) is a new charitable effort started by TheOneRing.net to provide needy schools with copies of Tolkien’s literature. The inaugural drive exceeded all our expectations so look forward to more book-giving efforts in the future.
Dragon Con – Atlanta – Four days of programming, celeb panels, a booth and an Epic 80’s Dance Party
DragonCon 2013 was yet again, the most Tolkien-centric event in the nation with four days of wall-to-wall programming from the track “Tolkien’s Middle-earth.” With TORn staffers MrCere, deej, greendragon, and Thorongil running the track, running the fan table to sell shirts and to see folks face-to-face and hosting big stars, this year’s edition also drew new attendees from Twitter and social media. The presence of stars was bigger than ever with Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, William Kircher and Manu Bennett delighting fans at multiple panels. In fact, the two dwarf actors appeared on a large-room panel every single day of the convention. But one of the highlights of the week was the first annual Middle-earth Dance Party that created a big stir at a convention with endless entertainment possibilities.
Dragon Con video dance night highlights
Dragon Con ‘Tolkien’s Middle-earth’ track highlights
Baggins Birthday Bash – Los Angeles
TORn’s LA staffers hosted their 11th annual Baggins Birthday Bash in Griffith Park where close to 150 fans ate like Hobbits, drank like Dwarves and generally celebrated Bilbo and Frodo’s September 22 birthdays.
TheOneRing.net was once again the only Hobbit content at the New York Comic Con and we’re always proud to represent Tolkien fandom! Our booth (complete with a ‘ring’ of dwarves mounted on the top), staffed by Calisuri, deej, Earl, greendragon, ImladrisRose, Justin, and Thorongil drew many folks eager for some Middle-earth goodies, and we were able to satisfy their craving with our own t-shirts and buttons, as well as Weta collectibles.
Sean Astin live fan chat
Sean Astin recalled his time on LOTR and updated us on his life and his projects since.
November brought the long-expected “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” fan event hosted by Anderson Cooper in New York. The event was held live in major cities around the world and also online. Per Anderson: “this global fan event is for fans around the world to ask questions of their favorite Hobbit actors and also to see some never before seen footage from the upcoming film. Go here for the video and a full transcript of this exciting event!
AUJ DVD Extended Edition Bluray release
The release of the extended edition of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Blu Ray format had fans around the world scratching their heads in confusion: “So, what version is available where and what is included on how many discs?” TORn to the rescue! Our staff put together this comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide to help fans zero in on exactly what they wanted.
TORN Book Club – Show launch
November brought about the debut of a new weekly live streaming video chat show for Tolkien Fundamentalists and all book lovers. Sundays 3pm PT at http://theonering.net/live
Premiere – Hollywood – pinch seen ’round the Tumblrs
Although Berlin got the bigger premiere, fans watching Hollywood were most delighted to see a fun moment between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Only TheOneRing.net cameras caught this, inspiring legions of tumblr gifs and validating shippers worldwide.
As part of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’s premiere festivities, Air New Zealand graciously invited TheOneRing.net to the red carpet reveal of their new Smaug plane! Joining the Happy Hobbits at the event were TORn staffers Quickbeam & Sarumann, who shared a brief moment with director Peter Jackson and actors Aidan Turner (Kili) and Dean O’Gorman (Fili). Check out the pics and video here!
Press Junket – Beverly Hills
Check out our exclusive “Playlist of Desolation.”
William Kircher live fan chat
Bifur himself stops by and gives the scoop on our favorite Dwarf with an axe in his head.
FORTH EORLINGAS INTO 2014!
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