Reports from MrCere in New Zealand on the filming of ‘The Hobbit’
LOS ANGELES — The contest has ended for the winners to be the ultimate Hobbit fans and watch the in-progress “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” film with Peter Jackson. That happened Thursday in Wellington and by Friday fans were traveling home, slowly spreading out away from Middle-earth and back to the four corners of the globe. Friendship ran deep among the group and the late night Auckland to Los Angeles flight still contained a decent share of the group that saw New Zealand in a whirlwind. The plane was also the famed Smaug-decorated jet and that surely seemed appropriate.
Jackson is back to work on the film, fans are spreading back around the globe, going home after an unforgettable week. TORn has been very busy collecting photos and experiences and will get a big report and maybe some other stories out this weekend. For the rest, three weeks remain until the the world premiere in London. Three weeks for Jackson and his editing team to make final decisions about the film. Three weeks for hundreds or likely thousands of hands at Weta Digital to finish hundreds of shots. Three weeks for Warner Bros. to ramp up its publicity machine and three weeks for actors to get ready to promote the film at red carpets and premieres on several continents.
The ultimate fan contest to bring hardcore fans together to see the final film in Middle-earth was a massive undertaking for Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Warners. While not every single detail was perfect, there is little doubt for those who went, the week was the trip of a lifetime. Besides the screening there was an incredible day at the Hobbiton Movie Set, the cultural welcome at Rotorua, all kinds of adventures in Queenstown and then a dash through Wellington with glimpses into Weta Workship, Weta Digital and the rarest of movie experiences with Jackson and company.
HOBBITON — A visit to Hobbiton Movie Set for winners of the Hobbit Fan Contest had, all-in-all, a pretty amazing day — and then they saw the trailer.
For readers who don’t know, the shooting set for exteriors of the Shire in Hobbit trilogy is preserved for visitors on the farm where it was originally used for the “Lord of the Rings,” films. It provides a fully immersive environment that fans worldwide agree is singularly special and it runs tours daily.
So besIt also didn’t hurt that actors Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow and Stephen Hunter surprised visitors at a feast inside the full-service eatery on site: The Green Dragon. Nor did the flowing drink, the plentiful food, the expertly guided tours, but what else can be done to delight 150 of the most die-hard fans in the world?
Have Peter Jackson, by way of recorded video, introduce the just-finished, and last, trailer for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” It brought the house down.
In the very Hobbity party tent behind The Green Dragon all the gathered fans and media were clearly and repeatedly instructed to turn off our cameras so it was obvious something different was happening. Even the most honored guests, the actors were placed in the front but looking forward with the audience.
Matthew Dravitzki, an Associate Producer on the trilogy and a key figure behind Jackson’s team who usually escapes the spotlight, spoke to the fans and introduced the video. He also required that we viewers not share the details, especially the specifics, so you will not read them here. But I think its okay if I say, it’s serious as a heart attack, gloomy as a storm front and as epic as battle of five armies.
And wow, do my fingers itch to type more.
Afterwards the groups of fans, split up for logistical purposes and took the new (to me) night tour around the set. Under the party tree the groups gathered to finally end a pretty amazing day. In fact, it may be difficult to match during the rest of the trip. To say fans were ecstatic is no exaggeration. There were, at several points, tears of joy and disbelief.
The day started in the rain at the Skyline Rotorua. Fans and reporters were generously offered the opportunity to enjoy various activities that included wine tasting, a zip line, a luge and a skyswing. Then it was off to the movie set for a day that was absolutely packed.
TORn interviewed the four actors together in a group with hilarious results. We will post it at a later date, depending on how quickly we get the video and quickly I can possibly post it but it’s great fan service from four classy New Zealand gentlemen.
The owner of the sheep and cattle farm the set sits on and his son who run it, Ian and Russel Alaexander, were on hand for interviews as well. TORn didn’t catch up with them, but plenty of media outlets did. In the late afternoon, in the guise of introducing The Green Dragon, fans were led into the room where the actors and executives were enjoying dinner and where media was stationed to grab reactions. As anticipated, tears where shed, hugs were shared and memories were made. Staff working on the event expressed a lot of tender emotions while watching fans enjoy the surprise so much.
I was pleased to have time to mix and mingle with fans — and I met a lot of them and enjoyed it every time. Before long it was trailer time. Despite this group’s appointment this week to screen the actual film with director Peter Jackson, the trailer announcement was greeted with great excitement.
Dravitzki promised a triple showing and delivered. All three times fans hushed each other at the start, not wanting to miss any dialog.
Then it was outdoors for the night tour when fireworks were triggered. Then, off to buses and tomorrow, Queenstown.
ROTORUA — The first full day is in the books in a historic gathering of Middle-earth fans from around the world. And while there were some tired eyes there were lots more genuine smiles and the excitement of anticipation of a fan’s trip of a lifetime. Along with 150 Hobbit fans, about 30 or so journalists met on the tarmac at Auckland airport to get a photo with the pride of Air New Zealand’s fleet, its Thorin-and-company-emblazoned carrier.
The logistics of making just that happen means many buses, many credentials, many places to store luggage and quite a lot of hustle and bustle.
Tourism New Zealand is out in force to get everybody where they need to be as is Warners Bros. and just some of the many faces behind the many travel details that had to come together to bring this world-wide collection together.
The winners are divided into groups that help everybody keep everybody else organized. Credential lanyards are color coded to signify who is who and where they are from. If you arrived from the Americas, including winner Rori Griffith and her father Derek from Barbados, you are signified a Hobbit and get a green lanyard. Australasia are yellow wizards, Asia are blue elves and Europeans are red dwarves. Anybody else instantly transported to the video game Gauntlet? Oh and the media are signified as white orcs. Oh yes, we media are villains! We find our bus with signs and banners with CGI Azog himself and yes, that is me down in the photo gallery taking a self-portrait to demonstrate our similar haircuts. Staff are purple with the ever-present black “staff” shirts. The very helpful and cheerful staff will be present and recognizable in many, many photos I have no doubt. Continue reading “New Zealand gives Hobbit winners a grand cultural welcome”
Peter Jackson held a a world-wide contest for fans with the ultimate prize of traveling to New Zealand to watch “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” with the director. Fans world-wide responded and as promised, winners were announced from the four corners of the globe.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Ever wonder what you gave Luke Evans for his birthday? Few realized it, but the staff and readers of TheOneRing.net gave him a present back in April of 2011.
Evans celebrated his 32nd year with a party at Gas Works, a bar and grill just walking distance from Stone Street Studios, the movie lot where Peter Jackson makes movies, including the forthcoming “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
In the mess tent of that set, on the white refrigerator that holds cream and milk and sundry items, near the always playing iPod, there hung a solicitation for all eyes to see: An open invitation from Luke Evans to celebrate his birthday on a Saturday night. (Regrettably I didn’t take a photo of the fridge.) The invitation was right there in perhaps the most trafficked spot on the lot, available for all, specified for none.
Part one of this spotlight on Evangeline Lilly and her character Tauriel was published yesterday. Click here to read it.
In the first part of this story, Evangeline Lilly discussed her childhood love for “The Hobbit,” and her decision-making process that led her to move her family to New Zealand and work with director Peter Jackson as a character not found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s 75-year-old classic. She plays an elf in the forest kingdom of Thranduil where his son Legolas also lives.
How does an actor differentiate her character in a set of films stuffed full with grand, immortal elves?
“Somebody asked me, ‘Did you study a lot of the other elves? The performances of the elves from Rings to do this role?’ I said distinctly ‘no.’ I intentionally didn’t re-watch the movies because I was afraid of trying to copy someone’s performance and I wanted it to be original.”
“All the other elves you’ve ever seen in these movies are at least twice my age, at least twice Tauriel’s age, so they are very wise and they’re very well established in their power and their understanding of the world. I’ve intentionally tried to demonstrate that she’s not there yet. She’s young, she’s only 600 years old and in elven terms, that is so young. She’s just a baby.”
Lilly is even playing some layers of the role in a way she wants those diehard fans to understand.
“I like the idea of playing with a young elf, how would they behave? How would they be different from the aged elves? And I hope that it doesn’t come across as wrong, you know what I mean? I hope it doesn’t come across to people who really know the world as she’s not quite got it down. Because that’s my goal, to not quite have it.
“She wants to be as wise, she wants to be as much of a presence as all of her elders but she’s not. She’s a kid and there’s a part of her that is always a little too excited about things or maybe a little too engaged in the world, the way kids can get. And I think that was something I wanted to tell the really diehard fans.