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. Wed spent almost
a year already following news of the film as it was revealed. But no cameras had actually rolled,
and we didnt know where they were going to start.
Wed like to celebrate the story of the film as its 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 citys 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.
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.
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.
Principal photographys 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 thered be a ferry-crossing built on somebodys farm for a few nights of filming, and itd 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 .
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.
And, persistently, Liv Tyler was always there too. We still dont 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. Weve seen shots of her on horseback, and heard of her misadventures with weapons. When Aragorn weds Arwen in the last film, were 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 Queenstowns economy. During work hours, they were off out of sight, using helicopters to reach remote peaks.
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: