TheOneRing.net brings you the first exclusive interview with Indie ANCANAR dircetor Sam R. Balcomb.
Sam and I recently spoke via Internet regarding his project and his plans to involve the fans!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
One of the first memories of my life was my father reading from The Hobbit & LOTR to me once a night every night before bedtime. That had a tremendous effect on me in many ways. The most profound being that I fell in love with storytelling from the get go. Since then I’ve always looked for ways to take the stories that I love and share that experience with others.
So you’ve been a Tolkien fan since then?
Absolutely! I can’t read his work now without being drawn back to those times. It’s perfect, really, since Tolkien’s work connects with the inner-five-year-old in us all — that we’re taken to distant lands, mighty kinds and terrible monsters. Some of us lose that perspective as we get older. Tolkien reminds us that we can still dream.
What other filmwork have you done?
We’re having a major update at Ancanar.com later today — I think there’s some info on my previous work to be posted. But since you asked I wrote/directed an indie flick in Boston three years ago called Under Oath. I’ve done work for Kodak, and right now I’m also working on a commercial for KCRW, an LA radio station.
When did the Ancanar project start to take form?
Ancanar was a story that I wrote a few years back after reading the Silmarillion. I fell in love with the book — a hundred movies could be made from that thing… But after Elessar was (abruptly) canned, I took it out and blew off the dust. I liked what I saw, so I took the next two months to write a shooting script. I showed to my producer Raiya Corsiglia and she flipped. It was a go from then. Ancanar is on a much larger scale than Elessar, but we are willing to make it the kind of movie Tolkien fans can be proud of.
Can you tell us a bit of the Storyline?
Here’s what I can tell you: Ancanar is a young woodsman, the heir to the Rammoth household. He is obsessed with the Elves, and grudges the fact that they live in eternal bliss while his father ails on his deathbed. Through a series of events he learns of a hidden Elves city closeby in the mountains. To speak of it warrants death, but he chooses to find this city, somehow, and restore his family name. That’s all I can say right now… and that it might involve one of Shelob’s ancestors…
How many people to do you have working with you on the project?
We have a fantastic crew so far, and more are on the way. There are about twenty people on what we call the “primary crew,” not counting pre-production staff. Once the crew list is finalized you can see all the bios and pics of each member on our site.
Why did you decide to get the fans so involved?
Because they really deserve it. Especially Tolkien fans. When something has impacted your life the way his stories have, you want to become a part of them. Film is a fantastic storytelling medium, a way to really be enveloped into a world. We wanted to have a forum for people to become a part of the process — and for those who don’t know the first thing about filmmaking, here they get a chance.
What stage are you at with the production?
We’re location scouting right now — that place in the trailer where I was sitting, that was one of the locations. And now that the site is set up we’re going to begin the casting process soon, so everyone can watch. We’ll post the sessions, along with Quicktime clips of the screen tests. We’re also hiring our makeup FX team, who will be making the prosthetic masks and so forth. Today I’m going out with our sound guy to test microphone quality out in the forest.
Any other details about the project you can give us?
Well, we’re very excited about the DragonCon convention, where I’ll be doing a live tele-conference call, along with airing the 5-minute version of our trailer. Also, I warn people ahead of time — there are lots of secret hidden pages on our site that will be added and deleted constantly. They’re hard to find, but have cool stuff on them. We’re very sneaky.
Besides being on a smaller scale than Peter Jackson’s film, what are the other major differences between the two projects?
The major difference is that Jackson’s LOTR is a story we all know and love. With Ancanar, Tolkien fans can enjoy watching a story that they won’t know the ending to.
What do you hope to get from the fans?
All through this process we want the fans to speak out as much as possible and let us know how they want to interact with us. We’ve gotten a tremendous response so far, and I thank everyone who’s participated. But we won’t shy away from problems — our motto is that if there’s a glitch in production, people are going to hear about it; why not hear about it from us? Overall we want fans to enjoy the ride as much as we are, voice their opinion, and learn more about Hollywood. We hope that we can keep professor Tolkien’s spirit alive in what we do.
How will you be using the internet to promote the film?
The Net gives us opportunity to reach people across the globe, and it’s not something to underestimate. Blair Witch blew open the venue for web-based promotion. It showed the studios that you don’t need their help to get people excited about a good film. Expect lots of chats with the cast and crew, contests, Quicktime, streaming, and the most interactivity possible with the production.
Any other forms of off-line promotion in the pipeline?
We’re waiting until we’re a bit more down the line in terms of production to start major off-line promotion (TV, magazines, etc). Since this is an internet event we want to establish our internet fanbase, which is, to us, the most important.
Do you have distributors yet?
Only in the LA area. As production moves on we have plans to broaden the distribution circle as widely as possible. We’d love for everyone to see this in a theater, but if they can’t, we’ll ship Ancanar to their door.