Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gandalf and Gollum arrive in Wellington

Warning: Heavy use of NamesDropping(tm) in this post! You have been warned!

In case you missed the news, Bilbo and the 13 Dwarves have arrived in Wellington last week, and are currently on some sort of Dwarven Boot Camp, whatever that may entail. Of course, a few other big names are expected to arrive in Wellington, so I've had my beady little eyes open and my not-at-all-pointy ears flat to the ground.

I've been doing alright - I was out with a LOTR tour group last Saturday and we ended up sitting at the table next to Andy Serkis! He graced us with a quick talk but it looked like his minder was rushing him along to the next meeting. I basically had a chance to welcome him back to Wellington and wish him well for what sounds like a long shoot for him - he usually ends up doing three times the amount of work just to get his physical and digital personas to match up on screen. He remembered me from the last time we met, which would have been close to five years ago, just after the King Kong release.

One of my sources told me later that he met up with Sir Ian McKellen at a local theatre on Saturday night, so Gandalf is back in town as well. I had assumed he was still on his Indian holiday but apparently that has finished now.

After Saturday lunch, and during our Weta Cave visit I ran into Sir Richard Taylor as well, who promptly told me off for calling him "Sir Richard", hehe ("just Richard, thank you!"). He mentioned a few other people who'd been at the workshop in the last week, including Seth Green. He didn't mention why Seth was here - I got the feeling it was just a friendly visit rather than anything official. Still, Seth is always very conscious of his (lack of) height - perhaps he's faced it and is applying for a Hobbit role? (email me, Seth, and I'll apologise for that one!)...  :)

It was quite a full-on day - Rivendell was still being used for that video game being filmed by Lee Tamahori (called "Cardinal", apparently although that may just be the working title), although that didn't interrupt our  LOTR tour. Apparently Shane Rangi was there as well although I didn't spot him. Having said that - there was a bunch of people in some great costumes, including one who looked like a humanoid lion/cat person - it might have been Shane in the suit! No photos sorry - their security looked stronger than me.

Isengard was full of people attending the Jousting Tournament, and on Sunday we briefly ran into LOTR's Sword Smith Peter Lyon who told us that this year he didn't take part in the Jousting but ended up relaxing from the sidelines for a change.

To top it all off, Mount Victoria and its famous "Get Off The Road!" scene was virtually inaccessible due to an all-day mountain bike race happening, which happens occasionally. I think we had enough famous people to make up for the missing location!

All in all, quite a day! I'm expecting more days like that in the next few weeks, so now is a good time to book on a tour!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Official Casting Call for Elves!

Wellington's official call for Elven extras has appeared on TORn and TradeMe (NZ's auction and jobsearch site).

Applicants have to be between 17 and 40 years old, and women have to be at least 175cm tall (5'9"), while men have to be slightly taller at 183cm (6').

To apply, just turn up to the address listed, and get in line - I'm sure most of Wellington will be there (at least those tall enough).

Alternatively, if you can't make it there on the day - there's an "Apply Online" button on the TradeMe site, they will send you an application form instead. Please though - they will have LOADS of applications to deal with - only apply if you actually pass the height test! There will be other calls later for different races (I'm hoping for open calls for Men and Dwarves later).

Note also, that this is just the Wellington call - there may be others later in NZ cities closer to you; at least if you're in New Zealand. If you're not - perhaps that working holiday visa is becoming a good idea? (NB - having a visa is not a guarantee of getting into The hobbit, obviously! But NOT having a visa is a guarantee of NOT getting into the movie).

On a personal note - annoyingly, my son can apply although I'm too short. I expect that it will be years before he'll let me forget that. Maybe I'll get in as an Orc or something later, and we'll fight on opposite sides of the Battle of Five Armies. Let's see his pointy little ears then! Kids! Pah!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Filming of Cardinal seems to have begun

Driving through Rivendell today, we passed a large ancient stone structure and an old tree that I'm sure weren't there yesterday. It looks like the filming of the video game has begun, as I blogged about a few days ago.

To the left, an ancient stone clearing. To the right, a tree being moved into the forest. All perfectly normal.

 Building up to an ancient ruin of some sort. Made from Styrofoam.

It also looks very much like the name of the game will be "Cardinal", and not "Monk" or "Abbott", as I'd previously reported. After work, just before I got home, I noticed a few new signs around my own suburb, marked "Cardinal", with the distinctive look of the film industry's directive signs.
The bottom sign is new

Cardinals turn left?

From the sounds of things, the filming at Rivendell will be from the 16th to about the 19th of February, however, these signs I photographed are closer to Wellington City and probably point towards Makara, where a lot of filming was done as well - notably parts of Black Sheep, and of course a few scenes of our very own Lord Of The Rings. Specifically the part where Sam, Frodo and Gollum walk past the old statue of a king with its head removed, when the evening sun reveals the blossom on the king's head.

I'll keep my eyes open in the next few days, there might be some LOTR people about - or perhaps even Hobbit people?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Welly-moot #2 - Second Coffee Meetup in Wellington

After the resounding success of the first meeting last month, I've decided we're going to have another one early in March. I'm hoping everyone can make it to Floriditas Cafe again, at 2:00pm on Sunday the 13th of March.

A "Fluffy" for little Hawk, meticulously made during a previous visit to Floriditas

The other decision I made about it is that we needed a name for the meetings, and I got a lovely idea from Haldirriel. She's a big Tolkien fan from Auckland (original from Pittsburgh) who I had the pleasure of showing around Wellington some time ago. She suggested "Coffee-moot" but I wanted something more specific, so from now on, as you can see in the title of this entry, the meetings will be referred to as "Welly-moots".

Alas, I have no big announcements to make, but so close to day#1 of filming I'm sure we'll have heard other cool stuff by then. If anyone wants to use it as a sort of grown up version of "show and tell", please do! I might have a few cool things with me as well (as long as my current project is finished by then)!

Drop me a line for more detail if you need to, or better yet, ask questions here!

If you can't make it, don't worry, I'll post a report about it afterwards. We're not looking at using Skype just yet, as it was all a bit tumultuous last time, but perhaps in the future that may change. There are places with free Wi-Fi around town, so maybe that's a viable option at some point!

  - Jack

Monday, 7 February 2011

Filmset in Rivendell, (not Hobbit)

I've heard from a few people that there will be some filming going on in the Kaitoke Regional Park, aka Rivendell. Although apparently swords will be used, it doesn't sound like it will be The Hobbit. I've pieced together some details, weeded out the stuff that sounded too fantastical or unlikely, and this is what I think is happening:

- Being filmed are the short movie interludes for a video game, to be shown between advancing levels of the game
- The game is called "The Monk", or "The Abbott", or something similar. I couldn't get anyone to tie that one down
- The park location will be used between the 16th and 19th of February
- The director will be Lee Tamahori, of James Bond and Once Were Warriors fame
- There will be swords, medieval tents, and horses
- Weta is involved, although I have no idea if that's Weta Digital or Weta Workshop, nor do I know at what level they'll be involved

And today, while on tour, we met up with Shane Rangi at Rivendell, who was doing some "reccing" (recconaissance) with some studio crew. He was very friendly, but appropriately tightlipped, of course :)  He did let slip that he'd be a part of the filming next week.

I have blogged about Shane in the past - check out this entry from March last year, where he was also scouting around the Rivendell area with a group of execs. Possibly it's about the same filmshoot?

If I see anything worthwhile next week, I'll be sure to post some pictures!