Tuesday, 29 November 2011

One more update on Manapouri rumours

I received one more update from my source down south (previous reports here, and here).

Apparently while he had some spare time in Te Anau he drove around to one of the lodges, where the Hobbit headquarters were rumoured to be.

He noticed a bunch of markers and roadsigns pointing the way - I've seen the same signs here in Wellington, pointing to various filming locations. They are designed to get a filmcrew, often unfamiliar with the local roads, effeciently to the set without getting lost.

If anyone knows what "LR" stands for, drop me a line? They are most likely the inital letters of the working title of The Hobbit project, whatever that happens to be. For instance, with King Kong the letters were "BPP" (Big Primate Productions).

Now before you all start following the signs to Hobbit paradise, keep in mind that just before you get to the good bits, you'll meet the security crew, who are paid to keep you out, and they're very good at it. I wouldn't suggest tangling with any of them - they are there to make sure the production doesn't get distracted by a thousand onlookers - so PLEASE stay out of their way!

My contact mentioned that the "hired goon" was friendly but looked like he meant business. When asked if all this was to do with "the movie" he replied "it's only a gate". They're happy to talk about the weather but you won't get any Hobbit details from them. I've tried for years here in Wellington - they're very good!

When the "spy mission" was completed, he drove off back home, but was unsure if the large white SUV suddenly behind him was the same white SUV that was parked at the security checkpoint. Quote :
I think I lost him just past the local Bar and Grill where I did a sudden right turn. Recon he might have stopped there as a safe place for a “steak out”.

I reported my story to some locals and heard of a local lady getting frisked at a check point near the Te Anau Helicopter Hanger [JM: presumably to avoid aerial photography of the sets].

All very exciting!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Update on yesterday's Te Anau spy report

I've had a small update on yesterday's report about Te Anau as a Hobbit location - additional material has come to hand that they're looking at Manapouri - several of the Hobbit crew members are reportedly staying there.

My source informs me that "two non-local Jet Rangers Heading South a couple of days ago
in the Direction of Mt Titiroa (our most unique Peak)". Of course, just because they're "non-local" doesn't mean that they are Hobbit crewmembers, however, he went on to say that "There are some Hobbit Crew staying in Manapouri. Word is there are two locations mentioned.. the Mavora Lakes and Te Anau Downs".

I love this James Bond stuff.... Where's Q when you need him!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Brief spy report from Te Anau

I just got the briefest of reports from one of my spies down south:

Te Anau just has been over-run with PJs Film Crew. No word of any battle scenes or the like in the wind.
The information came from the same source as my earlier report, which turned out to be spot-on; the dates are completely accurate.

Te Anau is located close to Queenstown, on the way to Manapouri. Large amounts of LOTR were filmed there, including the Dead Marshes, and parts of the great River Anduin.

He's trying to get some more details from whoever is talking, and hopefully some photos as well. I'll post them when they get here!

- Jack M.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Back from hiatus

It's been a busy few months. I haven't managed to get a lot of blogging done lately, only a few facebook and twitter updates. We've had a few birthdays here at home, and we've had other family staying with us, which always take precedence.

At work, our busy cruiseship touring season has begun again. By the time I come home from a full day tour, I'm usually pretty bushed, and my online activities are generally restricted to be read-only.

In all honesty though, there hasn't been that much to report. The Hobbit production is in full swing but none of it seems to be here in Wellington at the moment - Peter Jackson's various film teams have left Wellywood, and have headed further north and further south. I've seen the occasional celebrity in town but generally they were already reported by other sources.

I don't mean to imply that I've been sitting still - far from it! I've been working on a myriad of LOTR related projects, some for my own pleasure, some for work, and some for the online community. I'll try to get some of the projects online, as soon as I can (or in some cases, as soon as the cloak of secrecy comes off them).

I've also formed a very exciting alliance with fairly new forum - Middle-earth Network. I joined them a few months ago, and it looks like I'm in great company - people like the wellknown artists Ted Nasmith and Jef Murray, and the Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen. Frankly I feel like a hobbit at an Elven dinner party! Still, any excuse for a banquet...

The Middle-earth News/NZ Noldor alliance means I'll have some better resources behind me to get on with some very exciting LOTR related projects - some of which are already underway. I hope to have some announcements about some of them soon - patience!

What I will also report a bit more often, is reports from the field that are not necessarily Hobbit related, but more general stuff. Earlier this year another tree blew over in Isengard (Upper Hutt's Harcourt Park), unfortunately it was a "reference" tree (ie, it appeared in FOTR).

It's been replaced by two new young ones. If there's call for more reports like that, let me know - I'll pop some photos on a bit more often.

Also, is it time for another Welly-moot? I'm keen! Anyone else? Drop me a comment, here or on Facebook!

  - Jack

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Wellywood sign - vote now!

Now is the time to cast a vote for the "Wellywood" sign. Cast your vote here. The vote closes on Friday, November 18 and the winner will be announced on Monday, November 21.

The sign will be located at the entrance to the Miramar suburb. Elsewhere in Miramar you will find Park Road Post Production facilities, the Stone Street Studios, the Weta Workshop, Weta Digital, the Weta Cave, the Roxy Cinema, and huge number of other film industry companies.

There's been a lot of local debate for and against the sign. Personally, I'm totally in favour of it.

The Wellywood sign would be perfect - it yells "film industry", which none of the other options do. That was the whole point of the sign in the first place. Currently, if you are a visitor to Wellington, there is nothing to photograph as an iconic "Wellington film industry souvenir" photo. Paris has its Eiffel Tower, Sydney has the Opera House, New York has the Statue of Liberty. And of course, Hollywood has its sign as well. Our little town isn't important enough for a tower, but a simple sign on the hill would be perfect.

Some of the early options included a giant Weta (a NZ insect), or the phrase "Middle-earth". All cool signs, I'm sure - but Wellywood is more than the Weta Workshop, and certainly more than the Middle-earth films. Even in Wellington, there are lots of people who don't realise the Weta Workshop has been involved in more than 120 movies since the LOTR trilogy; including such huge franchises as Narnia, and the X-Men movies, and of course Oscar nominees Avatar and District 9, and more recently the new Spielberg/Jackson production of Tintin.

The two other options - the Taniwha (a sea-monster from Maori mythology), and the wind-blown Wellington sign - are interesting choices, but neither say anything about Wellington's huge achievemnents in the world's film industry.

"Wellywood" celebrates it in one iconic and easy to recognise sign. Vote now, and lets get this going viral among Wellington's many fans outside the country! Please repost this message elsewhere too!

Again, you can cast your vote here.

  - Jack Machiela, from the NZ Noldor blog

PS - in case this is reposted and the hyperlink is lost - the voting link goes to  http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellywood-or-what/wellywood-poll/5927480/Vote-now-The-final-Wellywood-vote