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February 06, 2000 - February 14, 2000


Spy Tells All!
Xoanon @ 23:34 EST
This I honestly do love, when Precious came to me and told me what he did I told him it makes me feel better that he placed his honesty as more important than getting the 'shot'.

We all love the spying came, but when it can honestly give away 'too much' it's important to weigh the pros and cons :)

Precious, the spy that never was.

Well seeing that I got busted, or at least, I busted myself the other night, I guess the best I can do, is give you the written version of my night of adventure at the Helms Deep set.

Last Friday night Precious completely possessed me and made me launch a sleazy night time spying sortie into the bush and scrub just to the north of the Helms Deep set.

Around 6 PM I decided it was all go, so into my backpack went my cameras and survival gear. My partner, who is used to living with a nut case, dropped me off.

No amount of climbing and tramping experience, (and I’ve had lots), could have prepared me for the amount and ferocity of the Gorse and Blackberry I encountered. It was extremely dense. 5 minutes into the bush, I had to stop and put on all the clothes and wet weather gear I was carrying to try and shield myself from the millions of nasty spikes and prickles. It was a warm night, it was extremely vigorous exercise, and I was dressed up like a bloody Yeti!.

2 hours of painful, hot stumbling around later, I was standing next to the trig at the top of the hill. I was still completely surrounded by Gorse and Blackberry, but at least now I could stumble down hill for a bit.

I reached the first of a clump of Pine trees that I had pre determined would be the best spot to shoot from. I stripped down to my shorts and T-shirt, I was completely soaked with sweat, (not to mention blood), from the thorny journey, but I was buzzing! I climbed the tree and surveyed the situation. I could see everything – not just the Castle facade, but a whole range of sets.

Anyway, this spot was good, but I could do even better. I headed down the ridge towards the quarry. I left my tripod there, as it wasn’t going to be much good to me anyway. The head had come off in the Gorse and Blackberry, (ouch! spying can be an expensive business).

As I got closer, I could hear the cast and crew talking, I could hear their conversations.

I was just positioning my self to see if I could get some nice dusk shots of the various sets, when all of a sudden Pachelbel's Canon started ringing out loud and clear across the valley…it was my cell phone! I leapt on it, madly pressing buttons as if I was fighting for my life on a Play Station.


I whispered tersely.

“What’s the matter mate?” my friend asked. “Man I’m really freaking out, I’ll call you tomorrow!”

(luckily my friends are used to odd behaviour from me). I chucked everything in my backpack, turned off the cell phone and got ready to flee. I sat and listened, and peered through the bush. I sat and I sat. - Now let me tell you, I have slept on mountains tied into my Bivvy bag so I wouldn’t fall to by death in my sleep, and I have crossed swift deep rivers floating on my pack, but I have never been as scared as I was then.

After about half an hour, I had calmed down and it was getting dark. Things were beginning to happen down at unheavenly creature’s ville. I unpacked my gear again and started getting ready for the show. And what a show I was in for!.

After another hour or so, I really began to feel the full truth of that old film maker’s adage, Hurry Up and Wait!. I got really bored, so I decided to climb the tree I was stationed behind. OH Wow, how could my view get any better?. I know, I could go and ask the Director if I could pull up a chair beside him!!??
I guess I already knew by this stage that I had the 2nd best seat in the house and that there was no way I would feel OK about using any of the material I shot that night. I was able to get so tightly framed on the action, that I could completely exclude the crew and various apparatus being used, allowing me to focus on the action alone.

So I guess your wondering what I actually did manage to shoot?. I signed the pledge of honour, so all I can say is..Some storming of the castle ramparts scenes, some sword fighting scenes, some fly wire scenes, sets, cast and crew members, the workings of the set, pretty much the whole 9 yards really.

One thing that will really stick in my mind, are the sounds of the creatures storming the castle. Helmeted roars and grunts echoing around the rock faces of the quarry and surrounding valleys. Those scenes were wicked!. The actors were so into it, and they were making so much noise, that the Director was having a great deal of trouble making himself heard. They had to deploy an air horn to signal cut.

After a bit of a set reset and some camera position changes, I was treated to choreographers and stunt coordinators rehearsing the various actors for some sword fighting scenes and on and on it went till it started getting light. I thought about sticking around to get some daylight shots of the various sets, but I thought it was pointless as I was just going to hand it all in anyway.

As I could now see my way back through the nest of thorns, I started negotiating my way back. 2 hours, 4 billion prickles and about half a dozen over grown ex dope plots later, I emerged from the scrub back onto the road and headed back down towards the quarry.

As I approached the security guard with what remained of my tripod slung over my shoulder, he asked me if I had been taking photos. He reached for his VHF radio as I told him that I had 40 plus minutes of broadcast quality video and a roll of closeup film shots taken from up on the hill and I wanted to hand them in.

“Ah.. You’d better send the boss down”, he grimaced into his hand set, “he’s got blah blah blah”… a minute later, I was surrounded by giants on quad bikes and various management types in fancy four wheel drives. “How about a job?” I said, my timing as never been great.

Thank you very much for being so honest and understanding Mr..? Introductions, pledges to replace film and tape…”Er this tripod carries many secrets too, perhaps you’d like to repl…or perhaps not. “Can you sign this?..hmm…”As an employee of… “, Hey great!, they do want to give me a job. Terms and conditions.. Shut up and no pay. Oh, well, not quite what I had in mind, but yeah, OK. Offers of a ride home and more thanks and that was it, all over. It all seems like a dream now.

Filming in the South Island
Xoanon @ 21:06 EST

From: Envinyatar

According to my contact there has been some filming done about a fortnight ago in Central Otago near a little town called Gore. They were most likely filming scenes with the Riders of Rohan.

Also he/she said he/she shot some scenes at the Hayward Quarry, which according to Tehanu is the same as the Dry Creek Quarry were the Helm's Deep set is built. I'm not sure if there were any special sets like buildings or such being build near Gore, I asked him/her, but he/she didn't answer. I'll be in the Queenstown/Glenorchy area in a few days, so I'm gonna take a look around. I'll plan Gore in the schedule as well.

Link: More info on Gore

The Hobbit Stage Play Reviews
Xoanon @ 14:30 EST
Reviews from 'The Hobbit' stageplay have been flowing in:

From: Andy

I went and saw this production when it was in Birmingham.

It was quite good, they made really good use of the stage with scenery.

The bloke who played Bilbo was quite good. Gandalf had a northern English accent and I didn't like it very much. The dwarves were just men, they didn't have any beards, and there weren't 13 either, only about 5.

All in all it was an enjoyable night out. If you want any more info on it let me know. I've got the programme still.

There was an article in the paper over here that they are recruiting over here for stuntmen who can ride horses for LOTR. Apparently the trouble in E Timor has meant they couldn't use riders from the NZ army. I meant to scan the article and send it to you but I left the paper on the train.

From: Alex

I caught the play here in Brisbane, I don't know if it will be the same cast, but it was brilliant, even from way back on the second balcony. Well worth gettting in early for this one.

From: Paul

Just letting you know that I've been to see the Hobbit stage play in Blackpool, and it was superb. Everything is there that you want - except maybe Gandalf was a little "timid" for my liking. They make good use of a two tiered set for all the "scene transitions". The ending battle of the five armies was excellent - certainly put a chill down my spine! (I'm easily scared!!!)

I would recommend it; but there are only five dwarfs!!! Never mind - you can't have everything I suppose.


Yes, more pics of Helms Deep
Xoanon @ 12:18 EST
Thought you'd seen the last of these? Not yet, Ringer Spy JG sends in these great pics from the Helms Deep set.

Click on each image to enlarge them in our Scrapbook

Bat Ears heard that....
Tehanu @ 02:17 EST
I deployed my Bat Ears to hear pick up the answers to some of Xoanon's questions. WHO'S climbing up the wall of Helm's Deep? (See the last picture of the series below)
Aragorn, or his double.
WHAT is the set that's being built, see below, picture courtesy of Kevin R.?
Think Elvish, said my contact. Think ....not Rivendell (there's a well-kept secret) but....?
So, my (strongly supported) guess: window surrounds and architectural detailing for Cerin Amroth...I also heard from folk in Karamea that somebody further down the West Coast was commissioned to make stained glass for LOTR, so that might be what fits into the woodwork we see in the picture.
(D'OH! Cerin Amroth? Caras Galadhon, sorry. Thanks to Trufflehunter for pointing that out!)
Oh yeah, and Christopher Lee is in Wellington. And his wife.


Orcs Attack!!!
Xoanon @ 17:44 EST
This is amazing, this is the ultimate piece of coolness available today. A set of great spy pics from Precious showing the Orcs/Uruk Hai attacking a castle! And who can that be climbing up the castle wall!

Click on each image to expand in our scrapbook.

Late Night Filming
Xoanon @ 09:00 EST
The folks over at the quarry set have been keeping late hours. This photo was taken during the night at the Helms Deep set, or whatever they're using it for now :)

Click on the image to enlarge

Thanks to Precious for the scoop!


Caught This?
Xoanon @ 20:06 EST
Well, if you're a frequent visitor to the 'Neoplanet Official LOTR Club' you know that there is a bar right on the top of the page with links to the official site, but not much else.

Well just this moment I've seen the bar change, and it's become....sleeker :) Yet it still does link to nowhere :(

Check it out, I'll try to get the older one for you to compare.

Great things are afoot!

Great looking props!
Xoanon @ 08:57 EST
Super Ringer Spy Kevin R sends in this great picture from a New Zealand carpentry factory, seems they are creating some great looking set pieces! Anyone have any idea what they could be for? Drop me a line!

Click to enlarge


Official LOTR Browser!!!
Xoanon @ 21:14 EST
Now you can surf the internet, with the wonderful colors (and sounds apparently) from the LOTR Film!

With the shipment of 'The Astronaut's Wife' DVD, there was a little surprize hidden in the DVD. If your computer has a DVD ROM drive, you can simply click on 'Newline', 'Rings' 'LOTRsetup' and within very little time, it's yours!

It's got some great little goodies, with some Hotlinks to TheOneRing.net and our counterparts.

With the opening of the official site soon, this browser promises to come to life!

Download the official New Line LOTR browser now!

British Airways Flight 3893 to Middle-earth departing Gate 59....
Tehanu @ 18:02 EST
I got this email from a friend who's just arrived in London:
"On my trip from LAX to London on B.A., I browsed through the inflight magazine "highlife", as you do when you have 9 hours stuck in a seat just that exact width to be perfectly uncomfortable. In such mags, they typically do articles on a number of travel destinations. I was a little suprised to read in the little highlights-strip on the bottom of the cover:

PLUS: St Moritz, South Carolina, British Columbia, Middle-Earth

Woa! I don't know what they put in the drinks on BA, but transporting you to Middle-earth would be a feat.

Anyway, there is a small article - lovely glossy photo of hobbiton, still under construction(!). Title is "Will Middle-Earth cost the earth?" Stupid title, they don't talk about cost-overruns or anything. Oh well. Pretty std article, the only things picked up that I didn't know about (but you probably already do) was:
- it said PJ "has experimented with the idea of digitising the entire movie, so details such as cloud formations could be changed and sunrises and sunsets could be added, or enhanced." I noted the past tense - I guess that means they AREN'T doing it??(Doing some I think, not all - T)
- He has hinted that he may be filming extra battle footage for a non-PG 13 version for later release on video and DVD.
- I didn't know that after the 36 minute executive screening of battle scenes, it was New Line that requested 3 movies instead of the 2 because they were so impressed." This info taken mostly from the 1998 Jackson/AICN's '20 Questions' interview, I think - T)

More of Helms Deep!
Xoanon @ 09:12 EST
Super Ringer Spy Kevin R sends in some amazing pics from the Helms Deep set! Take a look at all the finishing touches! Amazing :)

Click on each image to enlarge


Hobbiton Fire!
Xoanon @ 09:11 EST
TheOneRing.net brings you Exclusive images from the Hobbiton set!

As written earlier not all of the Hobbiton set has been burned down, read on:

From: Evan

I took a look-see at the set on Saturday. There were only a few vehicles left (only one big-shot-star-trailer). The reported fire damage is limited to one building. There is a semi circular structure with courtyard at the other end from the stone bridge from the mill which has been substanially damaged by fire. It looks as if there is a pole set in the middle of the courtyard which may be a flag pole or a burning stake (as in Joan of Arc)


Finishing up in Hobbiton
Tehanu @ 14:36 EST
A number of different sources (including the two aviators) have confirmed that Hobbiton was not all burned down as we reported last week, and filming has continued in the remainder of it. It may be that only one or two buildings were destroyed for the purposes of the story.
Anyhow, filming is due to wrap up in Hobbiton over the next few days.

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