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November 20, 1999 - December 05, 1999


More Hobbiton Set Pics!
Dwane Dipply @ 11:10 pm EST
Super Ringer Spy Anono Mouse Sent in these great pics of the Hobbiton set. Seen from high above, it only makes me marvel at the beauty of New Zealand yet again. This IS the shire folks! No doubt about it :)


Confessions of a Hobbit Knocker
Xtem @ 1:16 am EST
Contact Newspaper,
December 2nd 1999

By Eddie McCarthy, "Rings" extra.

Here I was, standing outside the gates of the Stone Film Studios in Miramar, ready to help make a movie - Lord of the Rings.

Over the years I had worked in TV, radio and stage as a singer/actor, but I had never stepped on a film set. I was here to shoot a medieval pub scene with 20 other guys made up to look like unkempt, grotty pub patrons.
When I got the part I was so excited I told everyone I knew and even a few I didn't on the streets of Tawa - and in Woolworths. The doctor's surgery was a good place too.

I will never forget walking on to the set for the first time. It was like Hollywood. Huge monster trailers with plush interiors for make-up, trailers with cameras, lighting and technical equipment, hundreds of people moving quickly about. It was intoxicating. With my personal minder I was taken to wardrobe and dressed in a heavy medieval costume which was blackened to look grubby. My shoulder-length hair and beard were rubbed with dirt and my teeth painted gray.

When all the men had finally completed wardrobe and make-up we were herded together in a large room which was to be our green room between shooting. Photos were taken of each of us for continuity reasons; this was to make sure we kept our original appearance throughout the shoot.

The floor manager gathered us together and warned us not to wander around the studio as the sets and other things were highly secret. After we all nodded in the affirmative he took us to the studio where filming was in progress. We went from bright sunlight into total darkness. Blinded, some people tripped over secret things. Bugger! Curse! We were greeted with;
"Shhhhhhh, quiet please!".

As I entered that place I felt an emotion I find difficult to describe. I was in awe, this was my utopia. I was enraptured, besotted, in love. It was almost sexual. I stood there trance-like and almost missed getting on to the set. Everyone was given positions in the pub.

Someone called my name and I was quickly brought back to reality. I was the last to walk on the set and was seated alone in a corner somewhere. I looked around and studied my situation - where were the cameras?
There's one over there....Bugger, I'm not going to be in this shot. Never mind, light your pipe. Look slowly around the set. Look really mean. Camera or no camera, I was determined to play the part.

After final adjustmentsof lighting and technical matters, I heard the magic words;
"We are going to try a take."

From my great distance from the action I heard the clapper board go "whack" and the words;
"The Prancing Horse.....Take 1.....Action.....Cut." All this time I had been searching the set for a glimpse of the great man, Peter Jackson.

Then I saw him. Quite a large chap, a bit portly I thought, with black curly hair. He was busy repositioning some lights and talking to what looked like a little person. This was my first look at a Hobbit. Peter Jackson spoke. Hush descended.
"We are going to try another take," he said, "and this time I want a bit more noise, sound more like a pub."

I was a bit far away, but during the take I uttered a few arggh and rhubarb sounds, I tried my best. I was dwelling on my misfortune of being out of the frame when I heard someone ask;
"What's your name?"
"Eddie," I replied
"Well Eddie, come and stand over here and when I say action I want you to walk across the room on a collision course with that little Hobbit over there, who will be walking over to the bar. When you reach the Hobbit I want you to almost collide, looking down at him with a mean, angry look"
This is it, I told myself.
"Okay, let's do a practice run," I heard Peter Jackson say.

I strode across the floor toward the Hobbit with a mean look on my face, furiously puffing on the clay pipe - and missed the little bugger by about a foot.
"What's your name?" I heard Peter Jackson ask me. I saw every face on the set looking at me, everyone.
"Eddie McCarthy," I replied, trying not to show any nervousness by deepening my voice.
"Eddie," PJ said, "try to get the timing right this time, all right?". My God.....Peter Jackson spoke to me......he knows my name.

After completing the take, we stopped for lunch and were herded back to the green room by our minders, photographed again for continuity, then led to the canteen. We were the last to eat the last of the food, which by the time we arrived was sparse, but I was flush with adrenaline and on a high. Who want's to eat anyhow?

Later we waited just off the set for assignments when the assistant director called,
"Who was the gentleman sitting on his own in the corner this morning when we started shooting?"
I stood up and shouted,
"It was I, madam."
"Follow me," she replied. She asked me to sit down at the table, which was situated in an alcove that had bay windows with small, square panes of glass. Very quaint. Suddenly I was surrounded by lighting technicians and other production staff. The head cameraman with a huge camera that took two people to carry and operate, was no more than a foot from my face. He checked the lighting with his light meter and proceeded to measure the distance between the camera and my nose.

The make-up lady was checking to see if I was grotty enough, and wardrobe was checking my costume. Move this way Eddie, look up, look down, dribble the beer down your chin. I was getting the star treatment. Where am I? Is this the TV show "Make A Wish" and my wish was being granted? Stay cool, I tell myself, let it happen.

I spot the casting producer who auditioned me in a house in Willis St earlier in the year.
"Hello Eddie," she cries, "just do it like you did at the audition." Then the sound of that clap-board and the shout of "Take 1.....and Action".

Ten seconds of close-ups playing a crazy drunk, it was easy. The words "Cut and print" still ring in my ears, then walking off the set with people telling me,
"Well done, well done Eddie." My wardrobe girl giving me five and telling me I did a feature.

We filmed a few more scenes then wrapped up for the day around 8pm. My word, 12 hours, where did the time go? Went to wardrobe and changed into my street clothes and didn't bother to remove the make up. I had to show the children to convince them that I had actually worked on a film!

Before I went home I checked with production for the next film schedule and was told that since I was featured witha lot of close-ups that day I wouldn't be required the next day, they would be in touch later in the week.

Alas, that was a month ago. I think my filming day's are over as the crew are now shooting in the South Island. Hey, I heard they've started shooting Ivanhoe in Wellington!


The Queen Geek goes South.
Tehanu @ 6:56 pm EST
This isn't news as such, more of a justicfication for not being around much for the next few weeks.
I asked a friend of mine where he thought would be a good place to see NZ at its most Tolkienesque,and this was his reply.
"Alot of places that I tend to go to haven't got any tracks bar those made by animals like deer or chamois, so as far as the tramps go I am probably not the one to ask, however I do know of some likely places.
As far as Middle Earth goes, a dead ringer for The Gladden Fields would have to be from 'Sisters' swing bridge entrance to Lake Sumner park as it traverses an area that becomes quite breath taking in its vastness. There's the Hurunui (Anduin) on one side with the Misty Mountains beyond and the flat tussocky tundra on the other - only Mirkwood has a dirty great ridgeline through it but I doubt you'll care. Besides, the Mountains of Mirkwood do exist in the book somewhere, its just all in miniature. It ends up at Gabriels hut, an old cullers' shack hand cut with 4 bunks, and a couple more clicks brings you to Lake Sumner - fabulous! If you're looking for the Ent-moot style I'd consider looking towards the western facing slopes just east of the Main Divide as they get just enough
spill-over to produce some awesome blossom (yes blossom!) amongst the spring flush and yet sustain the gentle mosses.
Now, if you're looking for Fangorn!Well! You'll just have to become a 'bushman' for there. Ever get the creeps when you're moving through a particularly thick, dark piece of bush? The places where the supplejack and the boughs have the twisty turning sphagnum that hangs like dead birds, always at higher altitudes and never with any birdsong nearby? That's Fangorn quality and I've yet to see it anywhere near a track - these 'goblin forests' are pure residue. One place is the higher reaches of the Oparara basin, or another would be the Southern Arm of the 'Hooligan', or perhaps try the swamps North and South of Haast - but don't go alone into those, the quicksand'll get you...
Do go to Nelson lakes. I recommend it for the mossy stuff, and for views that aren't too crowded with loopys - but wear bright stuff if you leave the tracks.
There's a lot of hunters.
Have a go with Erewhon. The station is AMAZING!! Talk about dry! TAlk about big! Talk about views at the tops!
Right, well. I have enough places to go and look at without this...but....it's so tempting!!!!
So, look forward to my reports from the deep South, if I ever get back and bother to go online.


Set Report
Dwane Dipply @ 6:16 pm EST
I had the oddest thing happen to me recently, I was sitting here, enjoying my cup of Earl Grey, when suddenly a package came through my window (the odd thing is, it's cold as hell! Why is my window open!) so I opened the package and read the cover.

One Extras Trip on the Set

So, with great hesitation i peeled back the cover, and peered inside:

Last Friday 100 souls had to meet for fitting, from 6:30, we were then taken by bus to the set, where we waited for our moment.

The scene was Daytime Ext, beside an old ruin of a building

Aragorn, tells frodo to run, then is set upon by 20 Uruk Hai, he starts to get the better of them, when a seemingly endless swarm of Uruks comes over a hill towards Aragorn (viggo Looks great, so do the Bad Guys). Aragorn retreats with all in pursuit, when the Uruk Hai Band leader forces through yells "Find the Hafling!!"

The band splits into 2 or 3 groups then ran off in pursuit, it was mucho fun.

We did 4 takes the first time, with cameras behind, that nearly killed us, the heat was intense in costume, particularly I was in full Prosthetic.

Lunch Reset camera's 3 takes from in front

A full day for mabye 20-30 secs of film.

PJ was there, Viggo was cool, 1st AD was there WETA were amazing help.


Helms Deep Pic
Dwane Dipply @ 7:33 pm EST

Caption: PREPARING FOR WAR - A fortress, believed to be for the Helms Deep battle in The Lord of The Rings, takes shape in a quarry in Haywards Hill, PICTURE: CRAIG SIMCOX


Rumours about armour.
Tehanu @ 3:56 pm EST
Way back when this film was first announced and Peter Jackson gave his first interviews on the subject, he mentioned that a Wellington knitting club was making the chainmail that the background extras would wear. Once sprayed with metallic spray, it would look great from a distance...at the time I thought that was pretty inventive.
A while ago I was talking to somebody in a pub who rather demanded attention, given that he was leaning on a sword that was longer than I am tall. He and his mates had gone in to an electroplating workshop here to get their armour done and there they saw racks and racks of plastic armour.
The guys at the workshop admitted it was for Lord of the Rings, and that they were going to chrome it. It would be worn by the extras in the background. My informants scoffed at the notion of plastic armour but had to admit that it looked very good and would certainly pass muster from a distance. It was made in India, according to one person I asked.


'The Hobbit' Stay Play Review
Dwane Dipply @ 3:35 pm EST

There be DRAGONS...

and goblins and elves

The Hobbit

Theatre Royal, Sydney

There's nothing to beat the thrill of a shivery, skin-prickling fright when you're a kid. My childhood fascination with scarifying literature ranged from the sadistic cautionary tales of Strewelpeter, which make the Grimm Brothers' stories look like the work of a pair of sissies, to the Victorian Gothic of Edgar Allan Poe.

And then there's nutty, Norse saga-loving John Tolkien and his gang of dwarfs (sic), elves and trolls. "Warning," runs the tongue-in-cheek advertising for this stage adaptation of Tolkien's The Hobbit, "parental guidance is recommended. Contains giant goblins, scary spiders and dangerous dragons." Woo hoo!

As much as I enjoyed this visually stunning production, which combines superb puppets (small, large and extra large) with amazing lighting effects and a strong musical score, the highest praise I can offer is that I wish I could see it again through the eyes of a 10-year-old.

Not that I had difficulty being transported to Tolkien's Middle Earth (sic), Henri Szeps, hidden behind a lengthy grey beard, plays the wizard Gandalf, who narrates the story as well as proving to be quite handy with a "goblin cleaver"

Bilbo Baggins, pint-sized Hobbit, is recruited by Gandalf for his band of crotchety dwarfs (sic) and they're off in search of Smaug the dragon, a huge pile of gold and along the way some "nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable" adventures.

If this rough outline sounds overly familiar, then it's because the same mythology Tolkien drew on continues to be reworked by his imitators, In the space age Bilbo would be Luke Skywalker, Gandalf Obi-Wan Kenobi and the dragon's lair the Death Star. What's missing, regrettably, is a princess, because there's no much in The Hobbit to temper all that masculine energy.

Guest reviewers for the evening, Joshua (nine) and Eliza (12), loved it. Josh couldn't decide whether he like the dragon (which is spectacularly huge, has fiery red eyes and belches smoke) the best or the lumbering, dim-witted trolls. Eliza was particularly impressed by the fine detail in the look of the dwarfs (sic) (Philip Millar designed the puppets).

And as their mother pointed out, when the 11 puppeteers step forward to take their curtain call after two-and-a-bit hours of goblin bashing and giant spider slaying, this is one fantasy that's clearly over. There'll be no need to check what's hiding under the bed when you get home.

Director Christine Anketell, playwright Gilly McInnes, set designer Mark Thompson and lighting designer Philip Lethlean have crafted a seamless piece of imaginative entertainment.

At $140 for a family of four, parents may hope they too had a share of the dragon's gold: a special pre-holiday treat perhaps.

Playing to December 18

(Sun Herald, Australia. Sunday November 21, 1999)

Thanks to Trufflehunter for the article!

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