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October 24, 1999 - October 31, 1999


The Rumour that Refused to Die.
Tehanu @ 3:27 pm EST
Yep, Sean's back. I swear he'll be the Elvis of the next millenium: people will claim to see him everywhere even after he's dead. Here's the latest Connery-involved-with-LOTR rumour, and it's a really cool one:
"...But here's something else for you to mull over. I just got hold of it today. I got it from a UK TV Guide called "TV Quick". One section is called 'The Goss'(as in gossip) and has an interesting titbit about Sean Connery. Here it is word for word...
"Sean Connery could be joining an impressive cast in the new movie version of 'The Lord of the Rings'.
Alongside Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen and Sean Bean, Connery could end up playing Witch King, the leader of a band of undead henchmen. It would be his most villainous role yet - but then, he's always had a licence to thrill."
That tid-bit came from STEVE H, many thanks.

More on Tree Pulling
Dwane Dipply @ 2:15 pm EST
More from Nikki

Here is really all i know, For three nights they were filming pretty much the same scene over and over again. It was only supposed to be a two night shooting but i think they had some trouble in the first night so they ran behind. I haven't read any of the books so i will try to describe what was happening the best i can. There are two trees in the middle of a clearing that is surrounded by more trees and bush, there were at least half a dozen small artificial fires scattered around the around, some of which were actually set on fire during the shooting. The basic plot of the scene from what i can tell was that there were two groups of about half a dozen creatures, all with masks on that had elfish features and long hair, trying to pull these two trees down. This is what i think the problem was as on the first night no trees came down and on the second night only one tree came down. Also while this was going on there were about a dozen more creatures, that wore black and didn't seem to be as made up as the rest, with firey torches running from behind the action between the trees and around the clearing. These creatures were different to the others that were trying to pull down the trees. In front of the trees there were about another dozen creatures, some with awesome make-up on, fighting with axes. When they were rehursing it seemed that after the trees were down these creatures started fighting as well. The only lines that i could hear was the "one, two, three, heave...." coming from the groups trying to pull the trees down. The rest of the time the others were just yelling and screaming. During the final take the rain was over the set again and the smoke machine was back on so it was quite misty and had a really great atmosphere. The lights were on it again which made me wonder if it was supposed to be day despite the fact it was filmed at night.

More filming may go on in that area as there are still tents down there, 2 days after filming started. There are also rumors that there will be a shoot with the hooded horseman here and maybe the forest passageway to the castle. There is a quarry in Wellington that is being rumored to set the scene for some other shoot but i don't know what yet. All i know is that when the shoot is on, the security guards are everywhere. The must love throwing people like me out.

I will keep in touch, and write back when i have more news.


Smoke and Fire and Rain...oh my!
Dwane Dipply @ 11:19 am EST
Howdy! "Buzz" here...:-)

Well...here I am sitting at my desk in the front window of my Mt Victoria flat, when suddenly at the section of bush up the end of the road there's all these billowing white clouds coming out of the trees. Very much like the billowing white clouds of, say, a smoke machine. Okay, and now I can see the utility it's coming from. And suddenly a light has come on through the trees. The smoke seems to have stopped for now, and I can see some people moving around up there. Think I might take a wander and see what I can see. :-)

Well..I got a couple of hundred metres up the road and it started hosing down with rain. No jacket, so home I came. But I can make out what look like a couple of tents up there, presumably for behind-the-camera purposes. From the way the smoke was released much further down from where the lights are to drift up through the trees, I presume the smoke machine is for mist purposes. Haha....they appear to have had a visit from the fire service. Presumably a concerned local phoning in about billowing clouds of smoke. :-)

Y'know, I sure hope they want middle-earth to be rainy, because ever since filming started there seems to have been a weirdly disproportionate amount of rain. The first week featured probably some of the worst weather we'd seen in months. :-) Small wonder Alan Lee broke his arm....it's not exactly pedestrian friendly terrain in a lot if places up there.

Thanks to Buzz for the report!


Woo Hoo!!!
Dwane Dipply @ 11:23 am EST
Talk about your Spy Reports!! Check this action out!!

I live less than 1 minutes walk from Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt (20 miles north of Wellington). The park is wooded, surrounded by steep bush-clad hillside, is alongside the Hutt River, and sits astride a major earthquake fault line that has produced a series of clearly visible steps.

On Wednesday 27 October a crew arrived and assembled the set. My wife spotted them while taking her daily walk.

I just couldn't believe that they were shooting part of one of the greatest film events in history (hopefully), based on my favourite book, right at the end of the street were I live - especially considering we live in a far off corner of the world, and definitely not Hollywood.

They wasted no time. That evening they rehearsed and shot the scene where the Orcs and Wargs have the Hobbits tree bound and proceed to burn down / pull down the tree in which they are trapped.

In reality, no-one was in the tree, and it was not set alight (special effects to be added later, I guess). There were 9 braziers of blazing wood spread out amongst the trees in the background, and a smoke generator with fan blowing down a long plastic tube that had small holes at metre intervals to vent the streams of smoke.

It rained intermittently all evening but no-one seemed in the least bit concerned. The Orcs wore large green hooded capes during the rehearsals and removed these for the takes. The furry Wargs just got wet.

I arrived at the set just after 9 pm and nothing much happened (visibly at least) for the first hour. Then the producer and the director (neither of whom was Peter Jackson, so I imagine they must have 'duty producers' etc for certain scenes) addressed the extras using a loudhailer and explained that they would be pulling down the tree using the eight or nine vine-like ropes that were attached to it.

For the rehearsals they were only to pretend to pull and not touch the ropes. For the first takes they were to pull at half strength. Then for the final take they would pull at full strength until the tree came down.

The director reminded the Orcs that they were all to move exactly as they had been taught at the Orc School they had attended !!! (Could you imagine advertising for an Orc Tutor - "must have demonstrable experience in teaching actors how to behave like Orcs")

He said each rope was to have a stuntman at the front with 2 extras behind. Half of the ropes were pulled by Orcs, the other half by Wargs. A group of Orcs with flaming torches moved menacingly across the set during the rope pulling, whilst some Wargs ran in an excited frenzy across the foreground.

After the briefing I decided I would dash home to put on some waterproofs and grab a cup of coffee, returning in time for the shoot. I determined I was going to see this quite significant tree come down, no matter what.

Just before midnight they had completed the four or five preliminary takes and were ready to pull down the tree. The take started, the action built to a crescendo, and then ... CUT ! One of the ropes broke!

The engineers came in to inspect the damage and within minutes the director called a lunch break and everyone went off to the Motor Camp adjacent to the park to eat. I went home to do the same and change into more dry clothes.

I was back on site within half an hour but it was still quiet. The engineers were putting the finishing touches to the rope repair, spraying it with a can of paint, then testing it.

I overheard 2 security guards talking - one was explaining that there was no more food because they had used up all the account. Overbudget already! ;-)

Everyone returned to the set, and they did another take for good measure before preparing again to pull down the tree. Finally, at 2 am the tree crashed to the ground with a brittle cracking noise that was much lighter sounding than I had expected.

After the director called "cut" a cheer went up (I believe in my excitement, I may have started it!). There were only 5 or 6 spectators left at this time, including my son and me, but most of the crew joined in the cheer.

Before going home to bed, I chatted with one of the security people. I asked where they obtained such a magnificent tree to pull down. He said it was an old tree that had been cut into sections and transported to Harcourt Park. It was then bolted back together and a hinge fitted to the bottom to allow it to be pulled over. The leaves were plastic and were wired onto the tree. There was a second tree in the background and I think he said they were going to repeat the whole process with that and use the best shots for the film.

They were filming again the following evening (Thursday) - the large bright lights shining through into our back garden. They had moved the perimeter fence farther out so there was less for spectators to see. The tree had been resurrected, but was only half the height - the top half of the branches having been removed. I didn't stay as it was still raining (we've had more rain this week than the last 2 months combined, I'm sure). On Friday they packed up and moved out.

There were none of the lead actors there as far as I could tell. The costumes and masks for the Orcs and Wargs were very authentic - the Wargs really were quite wolf-like creatures and were well cast. They certainly conformed to my personal image of the characters.

After seeing this scene shot, I have every confidence that the film will be in the true Tolkien spirit and will certainly meet at least my high expectations.

Thanks to Gordon!! Great work!!


Set design detail...
Xtem @ 11:11 pm EST
Recently I spoke with an architect working in WETA. Although obviously cagey about disclosing confidential information (with penalties not unlike what was outlined in an earlier spy report), they did let slip one piece of info that might interest you.
They disclosed that Tolkien experts all over the world had faxed in (or by any other means for that matter) alot of Tenguar (Elven) writings, to incorporate within the set design. Personally I'm very happy to hear that they are covering such detail as this.

More Singing Dwarves
Dwane Dipply @ 4:45 pm EST
From: Dernhelm


A friend of mine lives close to Harcourt Park, and he says he also heard Dwarfes singing there. He wasn't quite sure what is was that they were singing but says he recalls the lines:

"Dwarfes we are, brave and bold,
we swing our axes and search for gold"

This is all I know I'm afraid,
I hope it can be of some interest.

Regards, Dernhelm

Not to sure about the lyrics, but you never know...


Singing Dwarves?
Dwane Dipply @ 3:05 pm EST
From: Underhill

i thought your readers would want to know that the dwarves filmed at harcourt park were SINGING! We could hear them clearly singing some medievel-sounding tune. It was little weird.



Teleri's Report
Dwane Dipply @ 10:32 pm EST
Teleri the newest Super Ringer Spy, just sent me the following concerning filming at Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt

If you have not been on a film set before they are a wonder to behold. The grounds are full of cranes holding lighting rigs, sound gear, Marquees for the staff/actors to be fed in, Portable ablution blocks, Caravans/mobile homes for accomodation and offices. Camera rigs and scenery. The scenery has been prepared over the last few weeks.

Forests have been built and the grounds altered. There is even a large satelite dish set up for various
communications. The weather here today is not the best it rained hard all night, the winds came this morning and the clouds are still on 100% cover. A little sunshine came around midday but not enough to dry the land.

I understand that filming will haopen during tonight but cannot confirm that as yet. Also I do not know the scene being shot but will find out even if its after it happens.


It all sounds incredibly exciting to me!! Woo Hoo!!

Harcourt Park Report!
Dwane Dipply @ 4:57 pm EST
From: Nikki L

i may have some interesting news for lord of the rings fans.

i live about 5 mins away from Harcourt Park where last night there were rehursing a scene. The basic plot was that about 3 or 4 dozen people (possibly hobbits or dwarfs) were pulling down two trees while at the same time there was some fighting going on. This was done at night with many spotlights and a very overcast sky, smoke machicnes and fires also added to the atmosphere. Any ideas as to what they could be filming? Remember Ian Mckellen is not there...


Who? What? Where?
Dwane Dipply @ 11:16 pm EST

In NZ the film is being shot over a lot of the country. Not just in Wellington. The main studio or headquarters is in Wellington city. The main Hobbitt city is around Matamata near Hamilton.

Next week filming will be happening in Queenstown. Thats about 1400 kilometers from Hamilton and 800 from
Wellington. Late last week a scene was shot on a lake at a small country village called Manakau (pronounced Man-a-cow). Only 100 kilometers from Wellington. It was of the Hobbitts escaping by boat.

Tomorrow (Thursday 28th) and Friday there should be filming at a park called Harcourt Park in the City of Upper Hutt only 20 minutes from Wellintgton. Then as mentioned off to Queenstown.

The scripts themselves are guarded with the holders lives. The have their name superimposed through the entire text on every page. To get one is nearly impossible. The secrecy and privacy contract signed says that the holder can be sued up to the entire cost of the film if information is divulged. That's about $NZ380 million or close to $US200 million.

Thanks to Teleri for the tip!

Win Amp Skin
Dwane Dipply @ 3:59 pm EST
Check out Julius' latest work. A 'TheOneSkin'. It's very good, check it out!

Click here to see the WinAmp Skin.

Yet More Toys
Dwane Dipply @ 3:56 pm EST
From the attatchment with the latest issue of SFX


And now...the South Island
Dwane Dipply @ 9:32 pm EST
News has reached me that filming will head on down to the South Island on NZ. Ringer Spy Gardin sends the scoop:

a few images from Central Otago

A friend, I know is going for a part as an elf and apparently they called him to say the first part of filming in the South Island will begin in November, probably in Central Otago, some where. He suspects that they are filming the prologue there. You know the big battle where they first take out Sauron and consequently where the ring is lost.

He also told me a bit about the second audition in Queenstown, but I won't go into that..

Could we be seeing Sauron and Isildur battle it out? Maybe....

Thanks to Gardin for the tip!

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