This I honestly do love, when Precious came to me and told me what he did I told him it makes me feel better that he placed his honesty as more important than getting the ‘shot’.

We all love the spying came, but when it can honestly give away ‘too much’ it’s important to weigh the pros and cons 🙂

Precious, the spy that never was.

Well seeing that I got busted, or at least, I busted myself the other night, I guess the best I can do, is give you the written version of my night of adventure at the Helms Deep set.

Last Friday night Precious completely possessed me and made me launch a sleazy night time spying sortie into the bush and scrub just to the north of the Helms Deep set.

Around 6 PM I decided it was all go, so into my backpack went my cameras and survival gear. My partner, who is used to living with a nut case, dropped me off.

No amount of climbing and tramping experience, (and I’ve had lots), could have prepared me for the amount and ferocity of the Gorse and Blackberry I encountered. It was extremely dense. 5 minutes into the bush, I had to stop and put on all the clothes and wet weather gear I was carrying to try and shield myself from the millions of nasty spikes and prickles. It was a warm night, it was extremely vigorous exercise, and I was dressed up like a bloody Yeti!.

2 hours of painful, hot stumbling around later, I was standing next to the trig at the top of the hill. I was still completely surrounded by Gorse and Blackberry, but at least now I could stumble down hill for a bit.

I reached the first of a clump of Pine trees that I had pre determined would be the best spot to shoot from. I stripped down to my shorts and T-shirt, I was completely soaked with sweat, (not to mention blood), from the thorny journey, but I was buzzing! I climbed the tree and surveyed the situation. I could see everything – not just the Castle facade, but a whole range of sets.

Anyway, this spot was good, but I could do even better. I headed down the ridge towards the quarry. I left my tripod there, as it wasn’t going to be much good to me anyway. The head had come off in the Gorse and Blackberry, (ouch! spying can be an expensive business).

As I got closer, I could hear the cast and crew talking, I could hear their conversations.

I was just positioning my self to see if I could get some nice dusk shots of the various sets, when all of a sudden Pachelbel’s Canon started ringing out loud and clear across the valley…it was my cell phone! I leapt on it, madly pressing buttons as if I was fighting for my life on a Play Station.


I whispered tersely.

“What’s the matter mate?” my friend asked. “Man I’m really freaking out, I’ll call you tomorrow!”

(luckily my friends are used to odd behaviour from me). I chucked everything in my backpack, turned off the cell phone and got ready to flee. I sat and listened, and peered through the bush. I sat and I sat. – Now let me tell you, I have slept on mountains tied into my Bivvy bag so I wouldn’t fall to by death in my sleep, and I have crossed swift deep rivers floating on my pack, but I have never been as scared as I was then.

After about half an hour, I had calmed down and it was getting dark. Things were beginning to happen down at unheavenly creature’s ville. I unpacked my gear again and started getting ready for the show. And what a show I was in for!.

After another hour or so, I really began to feel the full truth of that old film maker’s adage, Hurry Up and Wait!. I got really bored, so I decided to climb the tree I was stationed behind. OH Wow, how could my view get any better?. I know, I could go and ask the Director if I could pull up a chair beside him!!??
I guess I already knew by this stage that I had the 2nd best seat in the house and that there was no way I would feel OK about using any of the material I shot that night. I was able to get so tightly framed on the action, that I could completely exclude the crew and various apparatus being used, allowing me to focus on the action alone.

So I guess your wondering what I actually did manage to shoot?. I signed the pledge of honour, so all I can say is..Some storming of the castle ramparts scenes, some sword fighting scenes, some fly wire scenes, sets, cast and crew members, the workings of the set, pretty much the whole 9 yards really.

One thing that will really stick in my mind, are the sounds of the creatures storming the castle. Helmeted roars and grunts echoing around the rock faces of the quarry and surrounding valleys. Those scenes were wicked!. The actors were so into it, and they were making so much noise, that the Director was having a great deal of trouble making himself heard. They had to deploy an air horn to signal cut.

After a bit of a set reset and some camera position changes, I was treated to choreographers and stunt coordinators rehearsing the various actors for some sword fighting scenes and on and on it went till it started getting light. I thought about sticking around to get some daylight shots of the various sets, but I thought it was pointless as I was just going to hand it all in anyway.

As I could now see my way back through the nest of thorns, I started negotiating my way back. 2 hours, 4 billion prickles and about half a dozen over grown ex dope plots later, I emerged from the scrub back onto the road and headed back down towards the quarry.

As I approached the security guard with what remained of my tripod slung over my shoulder, he asked me if I had been taking photos. He reached for his VHF radio as I told him that I had 40 plus minutes of broadcast quality video and a roll of closeup film shots taken from up on the hill and I wanted to hand them in.

“Ah.. You’d better send the boss down”, he grimaced into his hand set, “he’s got blah blah blah”… a minute later, I was surrounded by giants on quad bikes and various management types in fancy four wheel drives. “How about a job?” I said, my timing as never been great.

Thank you very much for being so honest and understanding Mr..? Introductions, pledges to replace film and tape…”Er this tripod carries many secrets too, perhaps you’d like to repl…or perhaps not. “Can you sign this?..hmm…”As an employee of… “, Hey great!, they do want to give me a job. Terms and conditions.. Shut up and no pay. Oh, well, not quite what I had in mind, but yeah, OK. Offers of a ride home and more thanks and that was it, all over. It all seems like a dream now.