The good folks at Newsmonitor Services Limited have given me permission to post thier interview with Barrie Osborne that aired on Tuesday.
Please note: The following is Copyright.
PAUL HOLMES: Now Lord of the Rings, they must, well they were tremendously happy at the reaction around the world really to that sneak preview of Lord of the Rings which they put on the website the other night and almost, I think, 1.7 million fans really of Lord of the Rings, 1.7 million curious people around the world accessed that website in the, in the first 24 hours, remember it was put on a website at 7 o’clock last Friday night. Anyway what about the making of Lord of the Rings. It’s produced by Barry Osborne who, or it’s being produced by Barry Osborne, Director Peter Jackson of course but produced by Barry Osborne who was also producer of the Matrix and Barry Osborne is with us, good morning.
BARRY OSBORNE: Hello Paul how are you.
HOLMES: Good where are you.
OSBORNE: Standing on top of Mt Ruapehu at the moment.
HOLMES: You could probably think of better places to be.
OSBORNE: That’s a lovely spot however it’s a little foggy.
HOLMES: Congratulations on the Matrix (thank you very much) do you say Matrix or four oscars for technical brilliance that must have been very heartening.
OSBORNE: Yes it was it was a lot of fun to make that film.
HOLMES: Is the technical stuff, are the special effects going to be very much a feature of Lord of the Rings.
OSBORNE: Ah yes actually you couldn’t bring this picture to the screen without relying on the recent increases in the capabilities of visual effects, technology yeah.
HOLMES: Are you going to be doing, do you call that post production don’t you a lot of that, are you going to be done that here or in Los Angeles.
OSBORNE: The entire films are being done here including all the post production and the visual effects are at WETA which is Peter’s company with several partners.
HOLMES: And so we must be then pretty good by world standards if Peter can do it here.
OSBORNE: You certainly are and they’ve got quite a facility in Wellington that they’ve built up.
HOLMES: You must have been, were you surprised by reaction to the 2 minutes on the website the other night.
OSBORNE: Ah yeah it’s really gratifying and I think it’s a tribute to both Lord of the Rings and the international cast that has been assembled to portray it on the screen and to Peter Jackson, yeah it’s really gratifying. We’re out here day after day slogging it out for 255 days up and down mountains and all over the country and it’s great to see that there’s such an interest in the work, it makes all that effort worth while.
HOLMES: Especially when you put about $360 million or when people, you know, when you’ve got backers who have put 360 million bucks in it’s nice to know there is tremendous interest.
OSBORNE: It certainly takes a little pressure off.
HOLMES: I bet it does. Of course yes up and down mountains as you say in all kinds of weather of course people forget that, you know, the making of a film is really, it can be a lot of drudgery can’t it.
OSBORNE: A lot of long hours and a lot of effort yes and a lot of hard work.
HOLMES: It’s a trilogy, you are doing it as a trilogy as Tolkien conceived the story, are you, I’m just intrigued by this because I haven’t been able to really find this out. Are you making them all at once.
OSBORNE: Yes we are, we’re going, we’re filming for about a 15 month period and we’re filming as I say all over New Zealand rather than going around the country several times. We’re doing whatever scenes are appropriate from any of one of the three trilogies in each of the locations that we go to.
HOLMES: All right that must make it very hard for the Director, it must make it very hard for the actors, you know, to keep an eye on where their characters ought to be in terms of development.
OSBORNE: Correct at least however we have the books and you can always refer to that, you can always refer to the scripts and keep in character. Yes it is though, it’s very difficult.
HOLMES: Are you going to release them all at once or are you going to tease them out.
OSBORNE: They are going to be released 6 months to a year apart and partially because of the amount of work in post production, post production and the visual effects that take quite a long time to produce after the films are finished filming.
HOLMES: Is that where the money goes really is it, I mean is that what eats the money the visual effects.
OSBORNE: Well it’s a combination but yes the visual effects are a huge chunk of our budget.
HOLMES: And also the sets, I mean you are building the most phenomenally elaborate sets.
OSBORNE: They are it sort of reminds me I did Apocalypse Now years and years ago in a huge compound, a scope I thought I would never see again I am seeing on this film.
HOLMES: What did you do in Apocalypse.
OSBORNE: I was a Production Manager.
HOLMES: What an amazing film to work on (thank you) eh.
OSBORNE: Yeah it was quite an undertaking it was quite an experience.
HOLMES: We’re talking to Barry Osborne, Barry if you will stay there just for a minute I will take a break and then we will come back to you is that all right.(sure) Barry Osborne, Producer himself of Lord of the Rings, he’s going to be with us. He’s up Mt Ruapehu at the moment in the fog. He’s on a cellphone we will come back to him in a couple of minutes. […] Our very special guest this morning is Barry Osborne, he’s the producer no less, the producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy being made at tremendous, hundreds of millions expense, here in New Zealand Barry Osborne is still with us in the fog up Mt Ruapehu. Who is playing Gandalf.
OSBORNE: Gandalf is played by Sir Ian McKellern.
HOLMES: Sir Ian McKellern himself. What kind of approach is he taking Barry.
OSBORNE: You know he’s studied the books, he knows the books quite well and he’s got a sense of humour in the role and a sense of dignity, he’s great.
HOLMES: And Frodo.
OSBORNE: Frodo is Elijah Wood.
HOLMES: Did you get good response to the Hobbits by the way, all the extras, how many extras have you got.
OSBORNE: We have 350 extras on Ruapehu actually (how many) 350 (that’s a lot of extras) we do have a lot of extras yes.
HOLMES: In the fog feeding them soup.
OSBORNE: Exactly, actually the fog is starting to lift it’s gratifying.
HOLMES: That’s very nice. The, did you get over your Department of Conservation worries, can you use choppers there at all.
OSBORNE: No we can’t use helicopters which we felt it would have been actually less impact on the land had they allowed that but for whatever their internal policies are they didn’t but they’ve been very cooperative and we are very gratified to have that.
HOLMES: Were you a little bit out by that though. Here we are spending $360 million of overseas money and we couldn’t use a chopper in a national park.
OSBORNE: Well they have the right to determine, you know, I understand the need to protect the land. I just and I would never weigh the amount of money we’re spending against the need to, for conservation. I was a little surprised because I actually thought we would have had less impact by using helicopters than we’ll have by trudging everything in by foot.
HOLMES: Tell me about Peter Jackson as a Director. I understand he’s wonderful with his stars, he’s wonderful at getting the best out of his key actors.
OSBORNE: Yes he is, he’s always, he works very closely with them and encourages their input and spends a lot of time doing rehearsal. Peter is a tireless director, he works on Sunday often with them and having them over at the house and doing research for the work coming up the next week, gives them a lot of time on Saturday so it’s great.
HOLMES: Where do they rehearse, I mean where would they, so at his..
OSBORNE: Well they might rehearse at his home or sometimes go to the sound station if there’s a set up and rehearse on set it depends, various.
HOLMES: So how many people up the mountain have you got at the moment. You talked about 650 extras, 300 what did you say (350) 350 extras and then of course I mean you’ve got the catering teams as well, you’ve got, how many people would you have up there.
OSBORNE: Well I would guess and this is just a guess, it would be between A and B we have two units up here so we probably have another 300 people so we’ve employ about 650 all told maybe 700.
HOLMES: And are the stars in trailers, you know, like they are in Los Angeles. (yes they are) In trailers, so you have got to cart the trailers in as well.
OSBORNE: Yes we do.
HOLMES: What are trailers like, are they just big caravans.
OSBORNE: They are big caravans, they’re about, I think our caravans are about 32, 36 feet long.
HOLMES: And did you have to, like do they have to be imported, do they..
OSBORNE: No we got them from various places within New Zealand.
HOLMES: And do they have to have special star things in them.
OSBORNE: We try to make it comfortable for the actors, the actors are pretty cooperative with us, you try to give them a comfortable place to go and relax between scenes especially when you are filming all night so they will have a stereo and they have a TV and a video player and (and a heater) and a heater and they have air conditioning when that’s appropriate.
HOLMES: Do you try and heat the sets at the moment because it’s pretty chilly I imagine.
OSBORNE: It is chilly but no that would be impossible, we do have warm up tents and that sort of thing when it’s appropriate.
HOLMES: Yeah the special effects you are going to be using. Of course you just won the four oscars of course or the film won the four oscars your film Matrix but are these special effects we’re going to see in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are they very much state of the art.
OSBORNE: Yes they are, yeah they are. In fact some of what was on in the internet tease areas was really proof of concept stuff not really finished effects but it gives you an indication of direction that we’re going in.
HOLMES: Speaking of the internet there were on a negative note some reservations expressed by the, you know, the purist Lord of the Rings purists and nutters around the world are you worried by reaction to that because the book, you know, people, so many hundreds of, probably millions of people around the world feel they own the book.
OSBORNE: Of course then it’s an incredible responsibility to bring Tolkien’s work to the screen but we have taken great care to actually honour what we believe his intent was and in fact we have his, the two main Tolkien conceptual artists, Alan Lee and John Howe have been our conceptual artists and have worked on this film from day one helping to design the sets and helping to design the look of the film so that we would actually be true to Tolkien’s image so some of those comments I think, although we take them on board, we hope people reserve judgement till they actually see the finished film.
HOLMES: Just very quickly, how long did Peter work on the film.
OSBORNE: Well Peter has been working on this for over four years
HOLMES: Yeah, hey well listen Barry thank you very much indeed for your time and all the very best with the progress of the film and it’s going to be a beauty.
OSBORNE: Thank you very much. (goodbye now) Appreciate the time, yeah bye bye.
HOLMES: That’s Barry Osborne the Producer himself the man really in charge of the spending of the hundreds of millions of dollars on Lord of the Rings.