I just got back from the pro-Hobbit rally here in Wellington at Civic Square, which was attended by thousands of people. There was a nice positive feeling from the crowd, which was a great change from all the negativity from the last few weeks surrounding the Actors Equity boycott of the Hobbit movie.
There were many famous faces in the crowd - some took a turn at the microphone while others were there simply to support Sir Peter Jackson.
A good turnout from the crowd, too. I estimated around 3000-4000 people or so but I was in the middle of them so didn't get an accurate picture. Let's see what the newspapers and TV reports say about it tonight.
Here's a few photos I took (if you follow me on Twitter you may have already seen some of these - if you don't yet, you probably should consider it).
12:26pm - The first Hobbits have arrived
Pokarekare Ana is sung, and the first speech is from the newly elected mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown.
Sir Richard Taylor, head wizard at Weta Workshop, gives a rousing speech, and reads a prepared letter from Sir Peter Jackson.
Liz Mullane speaks next. She's the casting director from LOTR, and also for The Hobbit.
1:06pm - A good friend of mine and fellow LOTR tourguide, Ted Guise from Wellington Movie Tours, talked about tourism, and The Hobbit's impact on it.
Unfortunately I missed photographing some of the speakers at this point - one of them was Chris Guide, Ted's brother. Also a number of others - crew members, designers, a producer, technicians, etc. (my apologies to those I missed!).I was a bit too busy spotting faces in the crowd. Although Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh weren't there, I did spot Katie Jackson with some friends. I didn't photograph her - I gather she doesn't like the limelight as much as she used to when she played "cute hobbit child" in Fellowship of the Ring. :)
Gino Acevedo, SFX wizard extraordinaire (and incidentally Liz Mullane's partner - they met on the set of LOTR, apparently)
1:22pm - Wait, is that Barry Osborne in the crowd (producer of LOTR, and Matrix as well)?
After Gino's speech, Sir Richard Taylor got up once more to address the crowd. Sir Richard is always a welcome sight - people here adore him. He's one of the most gentle people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, with the most contagious sense of enthusiasm. The crowd loved him today.
Peter Lyon (sword smith) and Alan Lee (artist/designer) continue to mingle while the crowd disperses.
After the speeches, the microphone was switched off, and people started to drift away, although slowly. There were a lot of groups of people who hadn't caught up with each other for a while, seemingly. Lots of anticipation from different groups eager to get started. TV crews will no doubt have lengthy reports tonight, but it was the individual stories they won't catch. Everywhere I looked I saw hopeful people wanting to get started on this film.
This gathering was truly a show of unity aimed at the Hollywood executives, who are expected in the next few days. Let's hope it was enough.