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Old 11-02-2011, 07:37 AM  
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The Hobbit

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An Unexpected Journey: Quint on the set of The Hobbit! Part 1 - Concerning Hobbiton

Published at: Oct 31, 2011 6:13:46 AM CDT

SPOILER ALERT !!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here currently writing from the overgrown wilds of New Zealandís North Island. Iíve been rather secretive about my trip to the southern hemisphere and for that I apologize, but it had to be done.

Hereís the deal. Iím kicking off a new, temporary, regular column that Iím calling An Unexpected Journey because thatís exactly what it is. A little over a month ago an email arrived asking of my interest in embedding myself on the set of The Hobbit for the entirety of their location shoot, spending over 2 months in New Zealand rolled in with the crew and writing up their adventures, hassles, triumphs and tribulations as they traveled all over the country shooting bits and pieces from the upcoming two-parter prequel to Lord of the Rings. As Winston Zeddemore taught us all, the answer to this kind of question is always YES!

Calling The Hobbit a prequel doesnít exactly feel right, though. This isnít a film cooked up to cash in on an absurdly successful franchise. As most Tolkien readers and human beings over the age of 7 know, The Hobbit burst forth from the pen of JRR Tolkien first. There are many Middle Earth stories, but The Hobbit is the natural choice. Itís high adventure and lets us revisit some of our favorite locations and characters within its own, unique story.

Case in point, the very first location visited on this trip: Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand Ė North Island, also known as Hobbiton.









Gorgeous, isnít it? As amazing as it looks in those pictures or in the movies thereís something incredibly surreal and humbling to stand ON TOP of Bag End and overlook The Shire. I love (good) CGI, I have a lot of respect for the digital artists that toil away for hours and days and weeks and months in a dark room so we can go to Ancient Greece or Pandora or spend some time with Jurassic Park dinosaurs or Gollum or Caesar or those fookiní prawns, but if there was ever a shred of doubt that real wins it was obliterated as the sheep bayed, horses neighed, wind blew and smoke started pouring out of hobbit hole chimneys dotting the lush green landscape in the valley below me.





And when I say green I mean GREEN. The grass in this North Island New Zealand farmland is like Wizard of Oz Technicolor. Itís so bright it almost hurts the eyes.

But we all know New Zealand is beautiful. Thatís a given at this point. By the end of December youíll be given your fill of unbelievable scenery images as I travel from location to location (especially when I hit the South Island). Letís get into what was actually happening in Hobbiton.

Wake up time was 5:15am, which barely gave me enough time to get showered and presentable before making the 40+ minute drive from my Hamilton hotel to the location deep in the rolling green hills of Matamata.

Once past security I found myself driving along a small dirt and gravel road following signs to crew parking. Sure enough, the countryside was beautiful and Tolkeinesque, but it wasnít until I made a turn and saw the incredibly iconic stone bridge leading to The Green Dragon that it really struck me where I was.

That feeling intensified standing at base camp, perched on top of Bag End, looking over Hobbiton with dozens of Hobbit holes laid out over acres of green hills and the massive party tree anchored in the middle of everything.

The crew was setting up a crane out on the narrow walkway in front of Bag End for their first shot actually in Hobbiton in over 10 years. Because of the narrow and steep path down, the crew had to bring crane parts down and assemble much of it there. It took a little while, but before too long the familiar circular green front door of Bag End cracked open and out stepped an even more familiar face.

Munching on jellied toast, Frodo Baggins sauntered out and hopped down the steps leading to the mailbox, grabbed some mail and headed back inside.





Whatís Frodo doing in The Hobbit? I donít want to spoil too much, but I can say that Frodo is part of the connecting tissue between The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring.

In fact, the next shot was an over the shoulder on Elijah Wood hammering a sign up on Bag Endís front gate: ďNo Admittance Except On Party Business.Ē You guys should have an idea where that puts this moment in the timeline.

Martin Freeman stood in for Ian Holm, who shot all of his scenes and close-ups in London. They would sometimes play footage theyíve already shot to remind themselves of what they had done previously and to help them match up shots. Peter and crew did that for these reverse shots on Elijah and I got to see Ian as Bilbo once again. It was quite extraordinary, actually. Seeing Ian in close up, wearing the wig, the vest and the pointy ears just put a smile on my face.

While I didnít talk to Elijah about it, I bet it meant the world to him to have Martin there actually giving a performance for him to act off of. Freeman even adopted a little bit of Ian Holmís speech patterns for these scenes and was so good at impersonating Ian Holm that more than once I wondered if the voice I was hearing over the coms was Ianís on playback or Martinís in real life. Usually in these situations theyíll have the script girl or one of the dialect coaches read the lines and while that works a charm, thereís something extra special about a performer giving a performance. Like I said, I didnít talk to Elijah about it, but I bet he appreciated Martin doing that for him.

Their conversation is about Gandalf and if Bilbo thinks Gandalf will show up. Bilbo says ďHe wouldnít miss a chance to let off his whiz-poppers. Heíll put on quite a show, youíll see,Ē and Frodo grins, saying heís going to go surprise him and bounds off down the path like a kid at Christmas. When I say he bounds down the path thatís not an exaggeration for illustrative purposes. He was damn near skipping, a glimpse of that pre-ring Frodo we meet in Fellowship.

After Frodo leaves the frame is very wide featuring The Shire in all its glory; The Green Dragon and mill smack dab in the middle.





Itís my understanding this shot will transition to ď60 Years EarlierĒ with Young Bilbo sitting in front of Bag End contently smoking a pipe and casually blowing smoke rings as Gandalf comes along and presents him with his adventure.

At lunch I caught up with Elijah who was wide-eyed and smiling, obviously enjoying being back in Hobbiton with the furry feet on. He ran off and I said, ďWhere do you think youíre going?Ē His reply: ďBack to Bag End, my friend!Ē

I had to run over to wardrobe to get fitted for my cameo the next day, but soon made my way back to set. We had the same scene going and this time they had the camera tight on Frodo. While it was a tighter shot than before, it still captured the landscape behind him. I mean, thatís the whole reason we were out there in the first place, so I wasnít going to see a whole lot of close-ups and insert shots being filmed. In this case, it was a full on front shot of Frodo, the massive Party Tree behind him.

Seeing the footage of Ian as Old Bilbo was crazy, but nothing compared to seeing Elijah as Frodo in the furry-footed flesh. Iíve gotten to know Elijah pretty well over the last 13 years and it was the very definition of surreal talking to Frodo. Not Elijah. Frodo. I was literally not talking to a friend, but a fictional character, not to mention the magnifier of actually seeing him in Hobbiton.





I have to talk about the livestock. This will be the first time Iíve traveled internationally where I will have to check off the Yes box when asked if Iíve been near livestock on the arrival card. All forms of livestock were on set. There was even a runaway cow who decided she didnít like the film business on the first take and bolted right the hell out of Hobbiton.

It was quite funny, actually. I feel bad for the production having to pause, but from my high-up point of view (remember I was standing on top of the hill overlooking Hobbiton this whole day) it was very entertaining watching this cow haul ass along the path between the hobbit holes with a poor A.D. running about 20 feet behind her, desperately trying to catch up.

There were all manner of animals on the set ranging from goats to roosters, pigs, oxen, horses and all of them had handlers there to make sure they were fed, watered and safely munching on the lush green grass of Matamata. They would quickly duck out of frame whenever shots would go up.

Shortly after getting the shot on Frodo the unmistakable sound of chopper blades hit our ears. It was circling us. Obviously someone had hired it to fly above and take photos of the set.

An hour or two later a small, single-engine prop plane did the same thing, flying low and circling. Photos hit the net shortly after, I noticed. The crew was quite annoyed, not because Hobbiton was being exposed to the world, but because the choppers and planes were constantly getting in the shot and the sound of the engines was either ruining takes or making the production halt until they got out of earshotÖ which could be a long while if they are circling.

So, it was an unwanted intrusion, especially frustrating when you consider they were already waiting for the light to be right, to get behind a cloud or peak out from behind a cloud depending on the previous shot.

It got to the point that producer Zane Weiner asked me to take a photo of the plane so we can try to get its tail number. I had the 18mm-55mm lens on my camera (which means itís a shorter lens and doesnít zoom in too far), so I ran back to my bag, grabbed my 200mm lens and popped it on, but I was too late. The plane had already gone. Zane wanted me to let you guys know I failed at that particular task. And on my first day of location reporting, too.

That was one day of location shooting on The Hobbit. One day down, two months to go! Before I conclude this article, Iíd like to set up a little space where Iíll be featuring a member of the crew. God willing Iíll be able to do this with each of my pieces, introducing you to the fine folks who I spend my days with. These guys are the unsung heroes of filmmaking, so I feel they should be represented.

Kicking things off will be Kiran Shah.





If youíve watched the appendices on the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings films you should recognize Kiranís name. Heís a much loved character around the set. Heís an actor, stunt man and scale double. On Rings he doubled Elijah Wood, but before Lord of the Rings he had a massive career.

For instance, heís in Raiders of the Lost ArkÖ heís the guy who brings the poisoned dates into Indy and Sallah. He doubled Short Round in Temple of Doom, he was a character in Ridley Scottís Legend (Blunder) and even knew Stanley Kubrick.

The story he told me was that he got to know Kubrick a little bit, but even being on friendly terms with the maestro didnít save him when he popped in for a visit on the set of Eyes Wide Shut. Stanley spotted him and said, ďKiran, out!Ē We all know the stories about how Kubrick didnít like a lot of crew around and that was Kiranís little tale about it.

He also mentioned that LOTR and Hobbit illustrator/designer Alan Lee did the character designs for Legend and even drew the character that Shah ended up playing to look just like him. Shah attributes getting the role to Lee because he remembered auditioning for it and seeing Ridley Scott do a double take when Shah entered the room, looking back at the character design and up at him again.

In The Hobbit, Shah is up to his usual shenanigans, making the crew (and visiting movie geek reporters) crack up in-between takes and doubling hobbits. In the above picture heís waiting to double Martin Freemanís Bilbo, which is why his eyes are reverse raccooned in his picture. Thereís an eerie silicone mask of Bilboís face that heíll put on when Bilbo is needed to be seen in a close to correct proportion.

Shah will also be a Goblin in the film and is just an overall joy to be around and as such he is this columnís inaugural featured crew member.

The next report will cover my cameo appearance during a Hobbit market in front of The Green Dragon. There is a particular actor in this scene named Leroy that Iím especially excited to tell you about. He has huge talents and thatís even an understatement. I expect that report to land in a few days, but taking my own pictures means a bit of a clearance process.

I know the watermarks are annoying. I hate them, you hate them, so I made them as unintrusive as possible. If I see a bunch of sites take these images without credit and a linkback future pictures will have bigger watermarks. So, donít be a dick. I donít care if you use the image, just give a link back here, will yaí? Donít ruin it for everybody.





More soon! This is going to be a crazy couple of months! Oh, and Happy Birthday to Peter Jackson! Thanks for letting me join the circus for a spell, sir!

-Eric Vespe
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:37 PM   #301
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I don't know if it's in your copy but it's in mine. I have all three LOTR books collected in one volume + appendices. Its under "The Tale of Years."

If you wanna know about it, just read wiki though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauron

Quote:
Around the year 1050,[37] a shadow of fear fell on the forest later called Mirkwood. As would later become known, this was the first sign of Sauron's remanifestation, but for many years he was not recognized. He was known (as in The Hobbit) as the Necromancer. He established a stronghold called Dol Guldur, "Hill of Sorcery", in the southern part of the forest not far from Lůrien.

Shortly after the shadow fell upon the forest, the Valar sent five Maiar to oppose this growing power. They took the form of Wizards, the most prominent being Gandalf and Saruman. By about 1100, "the Wise" (the Wizards and the chief Elves) became aware that an evil power had made a stronghold at Dol Guldur. Initially it was assumed that this was one of the NazgŻl rather than Sauron himself. About the year 1300, the NazgŻl did indeed reappear. In the ensuing centuries, the chief of the NazgŻl, the Witch-king of Angmar, repeatedly attacked the northern realm of Arnor, first in 1409 and finally overrunning and effectively destroying the realm in 1974. Though driven from the north in the following year by the Elves and forces from Gondor, the Witch-king retreated to Mordor and gathered the NazgŻl there. In 2000, the NazgŻl issued from Mordor to besiege the city of Minas Ithil in the mountains bordering Mordor. The city fell in 2002, and became known as Minas Morgul. With the city the NazgŻl also captured the palantŪr of Minas Ithil, one of the seven seeing stones that Elendil's people had brought with them from Nķmenor at the eve of the Downfall.

In this same period, the Dwarf kingdom in Moria was destroyed by a Balrog, who slew King Durin VI and his son NŠin I and drove the dwarves away. In the centuries that followed dragons attacked other settlements of dwarves in the north. (Whether Sauron had any part in these attacks on the Dwarves is unknown.) In this time many of the surviving Noldorin Elves became weary of Middle-earth and departed for Valinor.

As the power of Dol Guldur grew, the Wise came to suspect that the controlling force behind the Witch-king and the other NazgŻl was indeed their original master, Sauron. In 2063, Gandalf went to Dol Guldur and made the first attempt to learn the truth, but Sauron retreated and hid in the East. It would be almost 400 years before he returned to his stronghold in Mirkwood, and his identity remained undetermined.

Sauron finally reappeared with increased strength in 2460. About the same time, the long-lost Ruling Ring was finally recovered from the River Anduin, found by a Stoor Hobbit[38] named Dťagol. Dťagol's friend and relative[39] Smťagol coveted the Ring and killed Dťagol to get it, and was eventually corrupted by it, becoming the creature Gollum. Banished by his family, he took the Ring, which he called his "Precious", and hid in the Misty Mountains.

In 2850, Gandalf made a second attempt to spy out Dol Guldur. Stealing into the stronghold, he was finally able to confirm the identity of its lord, later reporting to the White Council of Elves and Wizards that Sauron had returned. Saruman dissuaded the Council from acting against Sauron, hoping thereby to acquire the One Ring for himself.

Eventually, the Wise put forth their might and drove Sauron from Mirkwood in 2941. During the White Council's delay he had, however, prepared his next move, and was willing to abandon Dol Guldur.

Just before Sauron fled Dol Guldur, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, on an improbable adventure with a party of Dwarves, stumbled across the Ring deep within the Misty Mountains. After his quest was over, Bilbo brought the Ring back to Hobbiton in the Shire. Decades later, he passed it on to his heir, Frodo.

By then, Sauron's power had recovered to the point that he was able to extend his will over Middle-earth. The Eye of Sauron, as his attention and force of will was perceived, became a symbol of oppression and fear. Following his expulsion from Dol Guldur, he returned to Mordor in 2942, openly declared himself nine years later, and started raising Barad-dŻr anew. In preparation for a final war against Men and Elves, he bred armies of monstrous Orcs, the Uruk-hai.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:47 PM   #302
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I don't think I'm nerd enough to see this....because I will have no ****ing clue about anything that's going on in the movie.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:53 PM   #303
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Originally Posted by CoMoChief View Post
I don't think I'm nerd enough to see this....because I will have no ****ing clue about anything that's going on in the movie.
That might make it better, to be honest.

When you know what's gonna happen shit isn't as cool. My excitement for these movies has always been seeing shit I read about realized on the big screen.

Somehow Peter Jackson managed to do it, almost every time, in a way that effected



So I can't imagine what it'd be like for someone who didn't know the next scene.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:58 PM   #304
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Yeah, when you knwo whats coming and it still jacks you up, touche.


PS, I really wanna get a ****ing Eagle and ride around Middle earth ****ing shit up. Or a nasgul
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:01 PM   #305
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I'm a big pussy, but I still get choked up EVERY TIME watching Fellowship of the Ring when Gandalf slips off into the abyss and Frodo screams.

That scene is so perfect.

Don't even get me started on Sam on the slopes of Mt. Doom.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:02 PM   #306
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I love the part in ROTK, when Merry saves Pippin. Those two crack my shit up.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:03 PM   #307
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And the previews for that movie, were awesome.


The Man of Steel might have the biggest compilation of badass actors ever.
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:25 AM   #308
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Originally Posted by Cassel's Reckoning View Post
Amazing that any idiot would not want to see Radagast or Tom Bombadill. I was just playing LOTRO last night and it was so cool seeing Bombadill and watching him save my ass at the end of a quest.

If you don't like those characters, that's your prerogative. Tolkien fanboys love them.
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In the end you can bitch about it as much as you like, but seeing the assault on the Necromancer is something Tolkien fans ABSOLUTELY want to behold on a movie screen, so you can just shut up about it.

This is our movie, not yours. Now **** off.
AND THESE!!!!!!
They arrrggg true.

I came so hard after watching this. Gave my lady friend a mountain of a mouthful after this movie. A mouthful in her butthole, I mean.
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:28 AM   #309
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heh.. This made me chuckle..


It was funny i was in the theater when that scene came up i chuckled loudly because i forgot about it. My family and others were glancing at me like WTF?
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:32 AM   #310
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Amazing that any idiot would not want to see Radagast or Tom Bombadill. I was just playing LOTRO last night and it was so cool seeing Bombadill and watching him save my ass at the end of a quest.

If you don't like those characters, that's your prerogative. Tolkien fanboys love them.
Yeah, I liked that too, about 30 levels ago...

I was STOKED when I fist got to see the inside of Moria...now that is JIMP worthy! Can't wait to see the bridge at Khazad Dum, and Lothlorien!
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:37 AM   #311
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I've completely lost my mind.

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Old 12-19-2012, 10:51 AM   #312
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When is that talked about?

I figured, putting two and two together when reading the Hobbit that the Necro was Sauron.

I'm also curious if Sauromon knew what was going on when he is at the meeting with Gandalf at Rivendale.
You get the idea he does from the film.
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KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.KCWolfman would the whole thing.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:56 AM   #313
keg in kc keg in kc is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassel's Reckoning View Post
I've completely lost my mind.
I might still be playing lotro if my account hadn't been hacked and all my characters completely emptied a year and a half ago.

(that actually happened at least once to everyone that I ever played the game with - they all got their stuff back though. i didn't)
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keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.keg in kc is obviously part of the inner Circle.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:56 AM   #314
O.city O.city is offline
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Originally Posted by KCWolfman View Post
You get the idea he does from the film.
The way he acted, I got the idea that he did know that.
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O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.O.city has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:04 PM   #315
Setsuna Setsuna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keg in kc View Post
I might still be playing lotro if my account hadn't been hacked and all my characters completely emptied a year and a half ago.

(that actually happened at least once to everyone that I ever played the game with - they all got their stuff back though. i didn't)
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Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.Setsuna is blessed with 50/50 Hindsight.
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