We’ve just heard the sad news that Andrew Lesnie has died of a heart attack at the age of 59.
The filmmaker from Sydney, Australia, won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Peter Jackson‘s “The Fellowship Of The Ring” in 2002. He is most associated for his work with Peter Jackson on the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” trilogy and on “The Hobbit.” But his film catalog is much larger, including the just released Russell Crow-directed film, “The Water Diviner.”
He also served as director of photography for the Australian “Babe,” movies which led Jackson to him. In an interview with DigitalProducer.com, Jackson talked about the series of events, including Lesnie leaving “Mission Impossible 2,” to come to the Tolkien films. Said Jackson:
“I’d never worked with him or even met him before, but he’d shot the Babe films and I thought they looked amazing, the way he’d used backlight and the sun and natural light to create a very magical effect. And Babe had that larger-than-life feel about it that I wanted. So when we began looking for DPs in early 1999, I first decided to get either an Australian or New Zealand DP as they’d be used to the way we make films. Every country is slightly different in that way, and I immediately thought of Andrew. But he was shooting MI2 in Sydney, so I was a bit stuck then. But then after three weeks he left MI2 — apparently there was a lot of friction on the set, and we called him the next day and persuaded him to fly over to meet. Then we showed him all the designs and sets and he got very excited, and I liked him a lot.”
Jackson and Lesnie made the six Tolkien films together but they also collaborated on “King Kong,” and “The Lovely Bones.” Other notable films he worked on:
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and “I Am Legend,” among others.
He can be seen as a painter acting in the Sean Astin-directed short film, “The Long and Short of It.” He made a cameo in “Return of the King,” as a Corsair of Umbar sailing to battle. By all accounts and from personal observations, Lesnie was excellent to work with. He is immortalized through his work.
All of us here at TheOneRing.net send our best wishes and condolences to his family and friends.
Below is the video of Lesnie winning his Academy Award for “Fellowship,” where he is graceful, humorous and thanks many people person-to-person before walking on stage to accept the award. It is a fine example of his professionalism and good nature.
On March 28, 2015 TheOneRing.net livestreamed an interview with animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi to discuss the first-ever “The Lord of the Rings” film (1978), and to parse the differences between homage and rip-off (and the not-so-nebulous chains of inspiration from one artist to another).
Bakshi revealed to us that his Studio’s “LOTR” character designs and artwork were sent down to Three Foot Six in New Zealand; elevating the conversation of his impact on the live-action epic.
The subversive director has lived through numerous controversies, yet remains undervalued by Ringer fans and feels personally slighted by Jackson. He carries on vigorously at 77 years old with a new crowdfunded animated work, “The Last Days of Coney Island” and his intent to direct a “Wizards 2″ follow-up to his 1977 cult hit.(more…)
We know that many fans are in New York this week, enjoying the fabulous Lord of the Rings in Concert performances at Lincoln Center. For those of you who can’t be there, here’s a short video to enjoy, which captures the excitement of seeing these great films with live orchestra:
We hope that everyone who is there is having a great time in the Big Apple!
In the USA, from March 24th, the last in Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies will be available for you to take home. (It’s been available in digital version in many countries since March 3rd; but from Tuesday you can get your hands on a ‘hard’ copy.)
Many fans, of course, like to wait for the Extended Edition release before purchasing a copy; but speaking personally, my collection isn’t complete unless I have the theatrical cut as well. I was thrilled to get my hands on a review copy of the Blu-ray Combo pack, which includes copies of the movie on Blu-ray, on DVD and a Digital HD copy – as well as various extras. (more…)
We’re delighted to bring you an excerpt from Cinefex‘s forthcoming behind-the-scenes account of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Joe Fordham’s 26-page feature in Cinefex 141 includes in-depth interviews with the film’s effects artists — and Peter Jackson — and is accompanied by 28 behind-the-scenes photos and frame clips from the movie. Many of them are exclusive to Cinefex.
Here’s a teaser exclusively for TheOneRing.net readers: (more…)
WETA Digital director and senior visual fx supervisor Joe Letteri conducted an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit a little earlier. Letteri has, of course, worked on a slew of films such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, The Hobbit, King Kong, and Planet of the Apes.
Here’s just a few of his answers. Click the link at the bottom to see the complete thread.
Q: How is Peter Jackson in person?
Peter’s great in person. He’s really collaborative, really open to ideas. And he’s got a LOT of energy. And I think one of the things that motivates Peter, which I think applies to everyone at Weta, is that you don’t give up on the film until you have put every ounce of effort you possibly can into it, to try to make it as best as possible before it goes out the door.
Q: What’s your favorite pre-cgi movie? Have there been any movies that you thought, “Wow, I wish we thought of that?”
There’s 2 that really stand out, pre-CGI – they would have to be 2001 and STAR WARS. Because 2001 was just visually stunning, with its portrayal of space and how you could use FX to take you INTO space, and STAR WARS just applied that with a whole idea of an action movie sequence that just really opened up a whole world of storytelling.
Q: How was your experience working on the hobbit:battle of the five armies movie?
The experience working on those films was great, because we got to really spend another 3 years in Middle Earth, which is a fantastically open environment for us. We had the ability to not only walk through this fantastic landscape of Middle Earth, but help to create large parts of it, and as the series went on, we got to create more and more interesting characters. So it was great in the first film, to be able to bring Gollum back again, because he’s a favorite character of mine. It was great to be able to create Smaug, because he’s such a fantastic character. And, in the end, we created about 130 different characters for those 3 films.
Q: You mentioned that gollum from lotr and hobbit is your favourite character; how did the idea come about to use an actor for the portrayal of gollum rather than use cgi? And what did you think of Andy Serkis as gollum? I thought he was amazing, really brought the character to life!
Well, Gollum is a CGI character. What happened is that Andy was brought in, to record Gollum’s voice. But Andy, being an actor himself, worked with Peter to come up with this idea of having him perform in front of the camera with the other actors.
And that brought a whole new level of drama to the performance, because that meant that the actors could work with Andy as if Gollum were really there with them.
And so we then recorded Andy’s performance, and used that as a guide for creating the Gollum character, on top of the performance he gave on the set.
Now, when we did RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, we made a technical breakthrough where we could use the performance capture at the same time that Andy was performing onset.
And so that really allowed us then to do Gollum the same way for Hobbit, which was fantastic because it really kept Andy’s performance in the moment. And then we were able to take that one step further with DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, because then we were able to take all the recording gear to a remote location. So it’s given us the ability to work with actors to create these characters anywhere in the world.
And obviously, a huge fan of Andy. He’s a fantastic actor, and we’ve been fortunate to work with him all these years.
Hey all, MrCere here. We have a friend in Italy who has been great at promoting some J.R.R. Tolkien related stuff and has been also providing TheOneRing content and ways to reach readers and Tolkienites in Europe.
Gabriele Marconi sent in the following info, I think, with the idea that I could shape a post for TORn from it. Instead, I love his energy and style so and am presenting the info as he provided. It is long compared to many posts, but there is a lot of useful info. And, if this doesn’t want to make you go to Milan, you might not be a Tolkien fan. This is an astounding collection of art with all the names you hope might be included. Anyway, go read!:
One thing that isn’t great about being a fansite: Other outlets and readers treat anything we write as if it were written from a fan perspective. Sometimes that is true, sometimes it is false. As a result of this, we didn’t complain about Oscar Nominations; It just sounds like whining anyway.
For the record, while we are here, there are a few categories that are head scratchers though. The technical category omissions, in my opinion, are a mark against the awards. Films that win these categories generate buzz and these Hobbit films didn’t do that in the right way to win awards. All the folks who work on the film would say they didn’t get into the business to win awards and they are only a bit of extra icing anyway.
But WIRED, not a fansite, has a video series about special visual effects and the series is highly watchable, educational and interesting. (Special effects are things that happen on set.) Staffer Justin pointed out this video from the series where the host expresses real surprise that BOTFA didn’t get a nom. He has some wonderful details about the attack on Lake-town in particular (a favorite set piece of mine, burning or not) and the advancement of the computer program MASSIVE created for the battles in the LOTR films. The folks in New Zealand were pushing boundaries as they do every single time.
It is well worth a watch and it lights a fire under me, at least, to get annoyed that Weta Digital didn’t get an Oscar nom for Best Visual Effcts — except they did get one for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” That does mean Gentleman Joe Letteri will be in Los Angeles so on Oscar night, after he attended previous parties, we will be sure to invite him to our celebration this year. (more…)
An anonymous benefactor has offered to give $5k to this campaign, IF we increase our total by $5k by 12noon EST TOMORROW, Jan 9th.
That means we have 27 hours to go from our current total ($123,470) to $128,470 – if we make it, we’ll get a matching donation of $5k from our generous supporter!
If you’ve been pondering getting that amazing Movie Guide signed by SIX cast members (Thrain perk), or snapping up the last Mirkwood Elves VIP ticket, or snagging the poster with TWELVE signatures (and which INCLUDES a VIP ticket – Gimli perk), then now is the moment!
(And of course, every pledge received will be entered in the draw to win the amazing Dragon Bodice – see below!)(more…)
There are just 12 days left in our Indiegogo campaign and we have passed the 60% funded mark and are very pleased at this point. We know our goal really is within reach, meaning we will get to throw a Party of Special Magnificence for this wonderful fan community. Here are a few little updates, with more to come in the next couple of days.
1) We are very proud to debut the design for The One Last Party attendee shirt. This shirt will specifically be for everyone pledging for one of the ticketed perk levels. This joins the supporter shirt we debuted two weeks ago, designed exclusively for the 4 T-Shirt pledge levels. The final version of these shirts might look a wee bit different, the design is being finessed in order to print properly, but this is pretty much what you are going to get.
2) The very happy winner of the ‘Children of Hurin’ book signed by Christopher Tolkien and Alan Lee goes to Patricia M. up in Northern California. Our thanks to everyone who participated in the lottery by pledging during J.R.R. Tolkien’s Birthday celebration this past weekend. Please look for a new Prize draw starting very soon.
3) The ‘Mirkwood Elves’ VIP ticket perk is back on the list, but just a few of them, we are trying to keep the VIP perk as exclusive as possible. Also, the ‘Gimli, Son of Gloin’ perk with the signed DOS poster does include the ‘Mirkwood Elves’ VIP ticket as part of the perk. So there are currently 5 tickets at this level available, and then 2 more ultra VIP tickets available at the ‘TORn Star’ level, which includes VIP tickets and Sponsor status at the party.
And finally, we really do want to thank everyone who has pledged at any and all levels for your support. We know not everyone can attend and we truly do hope that you value some of the other perks we have been offering, and will continue to offer. There are some exciting new items coming down the pike in the next few days, so keep your eyes on our website and social media channels and maybe you can take advantage of some awesome opportunities.
One Last Party fundraiser passes the 60% mark!
Our One Last Party fundraiser on Indiegogo has just passed the 60% funded mark and we’re pretty stoked!
If you’d like to join us as a Party of Special Magnificence in Hollywood in February — a toast to all SIX Middle-earth movies, then now is the time to throw in your support! Even if you can’t make it to Hollywood (or if you’ve already contributed), you can help out by retweeting or sharing our fundraiser across social media to get the word out. And there is some cool swag you can get if you are unable to attend.
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.
As you know, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies had its world premiere in London last week. Members of the cast and crew gathered in the city, with some of them seeing the film the night before the premiere, but many heading down the red carpet to experience the completed movie for the first time.
TORn Senior Staffer greendragon was there to catch up with the folks in Leicester Square that night. Amongst those who stopped by to chat with her were stars Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen and others, as well as director Peter Jackson and screen writer Philippa Boyens. In addition to hearing what they thought of the film, and how it felt to be at the end of their (long expected? unexpected?) journey, greendragon made sure to invite them all to celebrate at The One Last Party in Los Angeles next February – which, of course, YOU can attend too. (Click here for more information.)
Enjoy this footage from that star-studded night in London:
[Special thanks to cameraman and editor Matthew Rodriguez; should you be looking for a film maker in London, you can reach him at rodriguezrmatthew at gmail.com]
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