Jump to main content Go to our Sponsor SideshowWeta.com
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[ Email this Page to a Friend ] Email to a friend!

Page 01 One Year of Principal Photography

One Year of Filming
 Page 01
 Page 02
 Page 03
 Page 04

On this day one year ago, principal photography began in Wellington for the Lord of the Rings trilogy after months of mysterious preparation both visible and invisible. We’d spent almost a year already following news of the film as it was revealed. But no cameras had actually rolled, and we didn’t know where they were going to start.

We’d like to celebrate the story of the film as it’s appeared to us since that first day, including some of the most memorable images.

On October the 11th, NZ time, principal photography began as it has continued: Unpredictably! Nobody expected that the film crew and the four main hobbits would quietly invade a corner of one of the capital city’s parks for a week. Suddenly an area of the hilly pineforest on Mt. Victoria right near central Wellington was fenced off by security guards, and the hobbits’ flight from the Shire began.

[ Hobbits Escape! - Click to see the Image in our Scrapbook ]

Soon we received reports of a Black Rider and his horse — such things are difficult to hide in a city — and we knew beyond doubt where in the story the filming started. At the same time, the four Hobbit actors began the long process of becoming the inseparable friends that they are today. If this dynamic comes across in the film, that will be something that Tolkien would have applauded.

 [ Hobbits at Mt. Vic - Click for image to open in a new window ]

The opposite happened with Aragorn actor Stuart Townsend; a week into the shoot he left and was replaced by Viggo Mortensen.

Next up were the scenes in Bree, (Really Fort Dorset, in Wellington) which we were lucky enough to get photos of before action started up there. Extras spoke of dramatic scenes in the pouring rain in filming that went on all night.

[ Pics of Bree from Scoop - Click to visit the Scoop Story ]

Principal photography’s carried on around the country with three separate crews in different places, linked by satellite when necessary so that Peter Jackson can view the results on each location and the crews can exchange ideas in situ. So we heard they were shooting in a bewildering number of locations around Wellington. Suddenly there’d be a ferry-crossing built on somebody’s farm for a few nights of filming, and it’d be gone. Singing dwarves and an exploding tree and lots of smoke and strange lights would entertain residents round another local park, until the scene with the Wargs was done….

 [ Harcourt Park filming ]
See Report on this Harcourt Park filming: click here

I called it guerrilla filming. There and gone as soon as you knew it was happening.

That served as a warm-up for cast and crew, and in November the whole lot relocated and based themselves in Queenstown and Te Anau, in the alpine region of the South Island.

By now the actors for the entire Fellowship were in the country — Sir Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Jonathon Rhy-Davies, Orlando Bloom and Sean Bean as well as the four hobbits.

[ The whole Fellowship - Click to see Larger Version ]

And, persistently, Liv Tyler was always there too. We still don’t know what she does that requires her to be here for months and months, though we are fairly sure that her character Arwen takes the role of several minor characters in LOTR — such as Gildor for instance. We’ve seen shots of her on horseback, and heard of her misadventures with weapons. When Aragorn weds Arwen in the last film, we’re going to know a great deal more about her than Tolkien ever showed us in the books.

Once the film crew were in the high country they were a lot more difficult to spot. Murchison locals saw them up at Mt. Owen, messing about with caves and mountains.

In their time off they joined the cast and crew of ‘Vertical Limit’ in revving up Queenstown’s economy. During work hours, they were off out of sight, using helicopters to reach remote peaks.

 [ Mt. Cook - Click for image to open in a new window ]
Click for full image and story

Jetboat crews were able to tell us about some scenes that were prepared on the Kawarau river, where a landing stage was built that we think was the end of portage around Rauros on the Anduin. The whole lot was swept away by massive flooding. The film crew and cast who were in Te Anau at the time were trapped by the flooding for a few days.

One of the locations they intended to use round Te Anau was the Keppler Mire, which we think were the Dead Marshes. However we heard that it was just too wet and the Marshes ended up being shot elsewhere:

 [ Keppler Mire ]

next page


home | contact us | back to top | site map | search | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2007 TheOneRing®.net. TheOneRing® is a registered service mark with exclusive right to grant use assigned to The One Ring, Inc. Unique Design by DesignHeroes.com