Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Worser Bay School (in Miramar) auctioning off Weta Collectible

Got this information from Miramar Mike
Mike Riversdale said...
As you probably know Worser Bay School here in Miramar is having it's annual fair on Sun 1st Nov (11am-2pm) and along with the circus theme there is a "silent auction". "So?", I hear you say - well, one prize (to be given out at 1pm) is: "King Kong Bookends personally signed by Richard Taylor" Thought that might interest you and your (local) readers :-)
Looks indeed pretty interesting. The fair is always a great affair - I remember that a few years ago one of the ROTK Oscar winners who had a child at the school was offering the opportunity to get photographed with an Oscar for $5 or something like that. Seemed like an excellent way to raise funds for the school!
I'm not quite sure what a "silent auction" entails but if you're local to the area, don't miss this chance to do some good for the community while at the same time running a good chance to pick up a fantastic collectible!

Unfortunately, I'm going to miss it as I'll be moving house that day, which will entail a lot of floor scrubbing if I want to see my bond back. Never mind - maybe next year!

There's more information on the school's website.

  - Jack M.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Stone Street Studio Stage "H" update

Referring back to my earlier post on this - I've heard a few more details through the grapevine - apparently the new indoor soundstage is costing around the $10,000,000 mark, and is currently about two weeks behind schedule, what with the bad weather we had earlier this month.

The front of the large concrete building has gone up, and some of the side wall panels have appeared as well.

I've put some more photos on the original post, and I'll post more as the building comes up. Exciting stuff!

  - Jack M.

Viggo Mortensen back in Wellington again, again?

Heard this one from a close source - apparently Viggo Mortensen has been sighted in Wellington again. The local NZ's newspaper site haven't yet though.
My source indicated that he had actually been back in the country for a few days. I can't (yet) confirm that, but it certainly is excellent news!

More details as they come to hand!

Update - it's been pointed out to me that the article I originally linked to was actually from 2008, which was TOTALLY my oversight. I stand by my source though - I heard the sighting report first, and then found what I thought was a recent article on stuff.co.nz. My apologies for the confusion, and thanks to "anonymous" for letting me know!

  - Jack M.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Star sightings in Wellington - Steve Coogan

Heard this one from a friend - apparently they were sitting in a restaurant right next to Steve Coogan a few weeks ago. I don't know what that means - he could have been on a short holiday here, or he could have been on some other business here.

OR, of course, he could have been in talks with 3'7" Ltd, about a certain height-challenged role in an upcoming big movie. Or two.

Am I spreading vicious rumours here? Hell yeah! I actually know absolutely nothing of why he was here, so I'm gonna let the readers make up their own minds. We don't see that many big stars here for no good reason, so I'd say there's at least a 20% chance he might have been here for talks surrounding The Hobbit.

On the other hand, I didn't actually see him myself, so maybe it was just a look-alike!

  - Jack, having a slow-news-day

Update : Chocolate Fish Cafe has re-opened!

Another "little" item I'd not yet written up was the fact that on the 16th of November, 2009, the world famous Chocolate Fish Cafe re-opened its doors. Or at least, found some new doors to open. The location is at Shelly Bay Airforce Base, as I previously mentioned.

View Larger Map

The relaunch was delayed several times - originally it was to be near the start of October, but that was shifted back to October 9th. On the 9th, however, all we found was a rather large green Thing, ...

...and a sign delaying the opening to another approximate date.

The approximate date thing no doubt was weather related - we've had some pretty horrible conditions in the last few weeks, although it looks like it's fining up again somewhat.

So we drove past again a few days later, but nothing yet - finally on the 17th we were met with success, and had missed the re-opening by a day or so. Oh well, so much for being the first through the doors! :)

The limitations of the place are immediately apparent - there's no proper kitchen so they are restricted for the time being in what they can prepare. Almost all the menu items are grilled or barbecued, and all the coffees are served in paper cups to cut down on dishwashing.

The coffee was great though - I don't know what it is about the coffee from there, whether it's the type of coffee they use, or the way they make it, or that particular barrista, or whatever, but I reckon I could pick out the Choc Fish coffee out of ten random coffees. Even in a paper cup.

And yes, they still serve the little chocolate fishies with selected coffees. They're not Aiko's favourites, so generally I get both of them, which my sweet tooth does appreciate.

Before I go, can I just draw your attention to the awesome chair that I "happened" to sit on? In case you don't recognise it (and shame on you if you don't!), here's the back of it as well...

Make sure you visit this awesome cafe when you're in Wellington next. Once you finish your coffee, there's a movie prop factory/warehouse just 30 meters away, and they do tours there as well, so it's all in keeping with the Wellywood spirit!

  - Jack M.

Update on Lothlorien Bridge - work is completed.

It know it looks like I've been a lazy little blogger these last few weeks, but in fact quite the reverse is true - I've been a bit busy with tours lately (or more accurately, I've been run off my feet with tours lately), and haven't had a chance to do much of anything else at all.

Apart from the already crazy busy week, I got called in for tours from the first of the (expected 52!) cruise ships which came into Wellington last Saturday, so I didn't have much of a weekend either! All good fun though, and I met up with some great folks off the big boat. The weather wasn't great but we managed to avoid the worst of it by strategically rearranging the order of the location stops around the region, and the hot chocolates at the morning tea location certainly helped keep the spirits up!

I do have a quick update to report on the storm-damaged Lothlorien bridge though - it has been completely rebuilt, and all work has been finished.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like the damage was covered by insurance since the bridge was not a "vital structure" (I know a few LOTR fans who would happily argue that point!), but the good folks at Fernside have just jumped ahead and rebuilt it regardless - and a big thanks to them all from myself, and everyone reading this, I'm sure!

  - Jack M.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

LOTR 10th Anniversary, Day One of filming

fter all the discussions I had with the various "official" organisations, the huge 10th anniversary I had hoped for didn't end up eventuating. So instead, a few of us got together for a lovely hobbit afternoon tea (assuming hobbits would eat pizza, that is).

My good friend Brian Reeve called me a week beforehand and announced that since nothing else seemed to be happening, the day should be celebrated in a less formal setting instead, so he graciously offered his Upper Hutt residence for the event. Brian often gives off quite the hobbit vibe, something confirmed by the "Bag End" sign on the side of the house.

 Brian Reeve

I had emailed a few local people who'd been in touch with me in the previous weeks/months about this, and we all headed over there for a beautiful afternoon. Everyone shared a common interest in Lord Of The Rings, and in Wellington in particular. Grant found me through this blog, Erica is one of the good folks over at TORn, and Tyellas is a Tolkien based fan-fiction author I met a few months ago. Erica brought her husband Thomas and baby Charlie the resident hobbit, and of course Brian's wife suzie and son Harrison were there as well - all excellent people.

 Josh, Grant, Jack, Erica, Aiko and Tyellas. (Photo by Brian)

The weather fined up unexpectedly, and towards the end of the afternoon we took in a local LOTR sight/site - Harcourt Park, or The Gardens Of Isengard. It so "happened" that I'd taken the precaution on bringing my tour material with me, so I took everyone around the gardens where Gandalf met with Saruman to discuss what should happen to The One Ring.

All in all, a fun day after all. Especially the lunch was great - a big thanks to Erica who baked her world famous 6 minute Chocolate Cake, to Grant who brought a fine drop of wine (which, me being the driver, I always miss out on!), to Tyellas who brought the healthy fruit option, to Aiko who baked her amazing Apple Crumble, and most of all to Brian and Susie who, apart from providing the venue, outdid themselves with the excellent homemade Pizzas.

From now on there will be a number of 10th anniversaries - last day of filming, release of the three movies (one after the other), etc. Let's see how many hobbit afternoons we'll be able to set up!

As an aside, I heard of a few other cities with their own celebrations - New York had one I believe, and somewhere in India, one of my readers known as Eorl the Young organised one as well?

Did anyone else do anything? Leave me a comment here!

  - Jack M.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Stone Street Studios renovating?

I've been hanging onto this story for a little while, to see if I find some more details about it but I've got nothing so far.

In short, I was up on top of a certain hill last week on the 18th of September, and couldn't help noticing that one of the large sheds on Peter Jackson's Stone Street Studios (where LOTR was filmed) has been pulled down, and the concrete floor seemed to be being repoured or something. I took a quick photo of it at the time, and was looking for information about what was going on there, but I've been drawing a blank so far.

This photo faces East, for reference to the Google Map, which faces North

As you can see from the Google Maps satellite photos taken earlier this year, the big white shed was still intact not so long ago.

View Larger Map

It's getting a little hard to ignore though. I was driving towards Miramar today, and saw a rather large crane, parked on what I assumed must be the top of the hills surrounding Miramar but which turned out to be actually at ground level behind the hill, making for a rather large crane indeed. So I drove around the front of the studios again, and here's what I found:

As you can see, one enormous crane, apparently (according to one source) the largest currently in New Zealand. The four struts on the right are large concrete pillars, and look like they will be the support pillars for a huge new sound stage perhaps.

The large concrete building behind the pillars is Stage "K", at one time the third largest sound stage in the world, fully soundproof, and custom built for "King Kong" (which is what the "K" stands for - a smaller one not in this picture is called stage "R" for "Rings").

I don't have any solid facts yet - it looks like vast sums of money are being spent in preparation for a big movie - I'm assuming it's for The hobbit obviously. Perhaps it will be called Stage "H".

Let me know your thoughts - or better yet, if you have the facts, let's have those!

  - Jack M.