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[icon] MEMORIES ~ SUMMER IN THE SHIRE - NotAlone
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Subject:MEMORIES ~ SUMMER IN THE SHIRE
Time:11:24 pm
Current Mood:nostalgicnostalgic
I will never tire of browsing through all the behind-the-scenes LOTR stuff that I have, all the details involved in the making of these films will never fail to fascinate me, but I particularly love Elijah's story in becoming Frodo, this 18-yr old boy landing the role of a lifetime, leaving home for the first time and travelling across the world to shoulder this huge responsibility. I wish he would write a book about his LOTR experiences. I've always loved the report by Tehanu from TORN - the 'spy' who eventually got herself invited to spend a day on set. When I read this I am there, in Hobbiton on a hot summers day, and I can almost smell the Shire. For anyone who has never read it or would like to reread it, I have copied it out and added some pics. One thing that occurred to me when I was reading through this yet again - all that talk about the pronunciation of nicotiana and yet we never saw any of that scene, not even in the EE. Just reminds me of how much we never got to see. *Wants more*

“After spending months being a stone in the film company’s shoe, I was sick of it. Perhaps they weren’t enjoying it either, because when I asked to meet the producer Barrie Osborne he agreed. Two days later I was at the Wingnut production headquarters in Matamata, boggling at a selection of concept art pinned up on the wall. Scary castles, bits of Hobbiton, things I couldn’t recognise. Spy heaven, in short.
‘Some people at the set want to meet you,’ said Barrie.
‘Who?’
‘Peter Jackson.’
‘Um, that’s nice,’ I said, or something equally alert. I don’t remember, because my brain checked out instantly leaving only a hastily scribbled note to say that it would be back as soon as I could offer it a bit more realism in life.
Not long after, we were driving along the familiar road to the Hobbiton set; only this time when we got to the gate it was open and the gate-guard waved us through, and we headed along that tantalizing dirt road that went out of sight over the hill.

First impressions: It’s a circus. Tents and marquees everywhere, pens of horses and cattle at full and half-size, and a Clydesdale horse being led past which would make anyone look hobbit-sized next to it. People wandering around in and out of costume. A fake Gandalf went by in a dark grey robe, followed by a hobbit double, or maybe a real hobbit actor– even the film people weren’t always sure unless they were up close.





The large marquees had their sides rolled up to let the air in and I looked into some that were set up as workshops and fitting rooms. The wig people worked in one, surrounded by racks of hair and piles of foam head moulds. They had thousands of wigs now, since every character had their double and their stunt-double to be fitted out, and the very tall and very small people had sets of wigs so they could double anyone. Another tent held the Feet; stacks of prosthetic hobbit-feet, filed for identification. The footpeople were busy cleaning and disinfecting the hairy feet for their next outing. Billy Boyd was in the makeup tent with his hobbit-feet on; he let me have a close look. They were very realistic. I touched them – the cool rubber felt odd and the soles were very thick. I asked if they made up for not having shoes on and he said they did.

In the trailers people were tapping away on computers, hooked up via satellite with their cellphones and earphones connecting them to all parts of the sprawling set and to Wellington. It was a contrast with the Hobbiton set outside, with its rustic implements lying about and old-fashioned architecture already weathered into the hillsides.

We walked over Hobbiton. Everything is exquisitely detailed, with gently curving rooflines, leadlight windows, carved wooden beams and round wooden doors. The gardens by now are full-blown with the summer heat. Convincing-looking fruit was tied onto some of the trees to add to the sense of idyllic plenty. I overheard discussions about the watering, how long they could afford to keep the grass green. The set is noticeably greener than the surrounding farmland.

Further on down the hill we saw some of the extras in rustic-peasant gear getting set up for a shot that looked like a harvest festival. Wicker baskets overflowed with fruit and vegetables. All products of a Shire that must stand for simplicity, comfort, abundance and peace. The crew is filming in brilliant summer weather, and Hobbiton is going to appear like a rural paradise. Even if the film’s whole coverage of the Shire is distilled into these few bright images, we will have a strong sense of what Frodo is leaving behind and what the hobbits are fighting to preserve.

It was odd looking at the camera monitors, and seeing this rustic idyll, whereas if I looked up at the real scene it was framed by about twenty people in t-shirts holding gear, microphones, cameras, computers, lighting and camera cranes, radios and cellphones…
We followed a narrow winding lane into a field where the main action was. PJ and Elijah Wood were sitting in a tent full of monitors and computers, watching Sir Ian McKellen and the small Frodo double do a scene in a horse-drawn cart. They had to drive down a little hill, chatting. So far so good; the horse behaved and everything went well once Gandalf’s hat managed to stay on in the wind.







Then I got a chance to see the same scene in forced perspective: Wood and McKellen in a larger cart cunningly made so that the two of them would appear to be sitting side-by-side from the point of view of the front-mounted camera. Because in fact Wood was sitting further back than Mckellen, he appeared smaller. It worked fine so long as neither of them moved so they overlapped. The complexity of building props for every single scene using this technique was a bit mind-blowing.









Two hours of real-time and a half-minute of film-time later, I could admire the sheer stamina of these actors. It was a hot, humid mid-afternoon, and Gandalf was wearing his thick felt hat and heavy robes. Frodo’s costume was lighter, but still heavier than what anyone else could stand to wear The crew were in t-shirts and staying in the shade of the tents as much as possible. I was collecting a new sunburn.





Wood and McKellen came down into the tent to look at the rushes of the scene and see why it wasn’t working. There was a bit of easy laughter, no tension. I’ve been on opera sets a fair bit during rehearsals, and often enough after three hours in costume under lights the air is sizzling with ill-will between the performers, lighting crew, mechs, director and producer. This set couldn’t have been more different.



I asked if there was going to be a bloopers and outtakes movie, and Jackson said yes, it would be part of the DVD release.
McKellen looked stoical about the heat; PJ suggested another take and Wood absolutely bounded off up to the cart without a second’s hesitation, depsite all the uncomfortable waiting he’d done already.
I don’t know how some people stand all the waiting around. One person’s job involved standing in the sun holding up some aerial thing, basically being a human telegraph pole. At least the director doesn’t suffer from monotony. In the time I was there Jackson directed the cart shots, looked over the rushes from the other crew and suggested some improvements that would make them funnier; looked at Alan Lee’s designs for the saddlery that Theoden and the other Riders of Rohan would be using – there was some discussion of how practical the stuntriders would find them – looked over some stuff from Fran and Philippa, which I assume would be something to do with scripts…it went on and on, everything going on simultaneously. I could see that the whole production plan was so clear in Jackson’s mind, and yet it wasn’t rigid, and there was room for spontaneity.
I looked at Lee’s sketches, of which he was justly proud. We’ve all grown up with his and Howe’s images of Middle-earth; so a lot of what we see in the movies will be familiar in the way the books are familiar, yet at the same time new. There was a beautiful sketch of the Grey Havens. Lee explained which bits would have to be built and filmed on, and which bits would be painted in later. Using composite backgrounds means that there is no limit to the size and complexity of the architecture, and what I saw was fantastic.
There was every kind of expert on the set. I talked to the dialogue coach and the linguist. They’ve been working with tapes of Tolkien himself reciting in Elvish, as well as consulting with Tolkien language experts in the States. I heard a bit of Elvish; it sounded like Welsh to me, but with clear vowels like Spanish. As well as dealing with the Elvish they’re sorting out what kinds of English accents the different races would use. For instance, the Elves speak English as a second language; as do the Rohirrim. The hobbits differ among themselves because they’re from different parts of the Shire, and Frodo’s accent is different again as he’s more educated. Everything is thought about. The scene being filmed had Gandalf talking to Frodo about pipeweed, I presume, for he mentioned its Latin name. The linguists worried about whether he’d use a Latinate pronunciation or not. "Nicotiana." Gardeners say it ‘nic-oe-chana,’ but Gandalf, being ‘learned’, could be expected to say it more precisely, ‘nicoteeahna.’ The linguists beat the subject into the ground, made phonecalls, established that the accepted pronunciation was changing with time…..later on I heard them riffing on a North Country accent they’d picked up from the movie ‘Brassed Off,’ which made me appreciate how versatile they were. You could have sworn they were from ‘down pit.’





I looked up to find myself being filmed. They are making a ‘making of’ movie, and they film everything every day. I talked to the ‘making of’ woman until the absurdity of reporting on the making of the ‘making of’ got too much. The caterers were in anxious contact with the film crew, trying to time their operation to perfection. Lunchtime was declared at 3pm and everyone headed up to the base camp. They’d been filming until late most days, and were looking forward to some great cloudscapes and sunsets later on. Regretfully, I had to leave them to it and head home.”

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shirebound
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Time:2005-06-11 10:51 pm (UTC)
Oh my, thank you. I never read that before. Ohhhh, what a wonderful journey it's been for all of us.

I was hoping that every single member of the cast and crew was keeping a diary, and would publish it as soon as the movies were all released. HOW we would rush to buy them!

Thank you again. I love reading this, and letting the pictures take me back in time.
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:08 am (UTC)
I was hoping that every single member of the cast and crew was keeping a diary

That thought had occurred to me too!! I know Dom kept a diary but don't know if he's ever said anything about publishing it. We've already had books from Sean & Andy, of course, and Ian M. kept his web diary - but Elijah has never said anything on this subject. If I ever get a chance, I'm definitely going to ask him if he intends to write a book!! I just can't get enough of this stuff:)
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merylmarie
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-11 11:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this report! I never read it, but it sounds like a dream come true. I don't think there has ever been such a lovable film, and such a lovable group of people making it. *hugs them all, with extra hugs for Elijah*
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:11 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed Tehanu's report - the amount of envy I have for her is limitless! And 'lovable' is certainly a very apt word when applied to that film, those people & especially Elijah:)
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mother2012
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-11 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hadn't ever seen it either. Putting it to pictures makes it very alive.
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:12 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it - its so evocative, isn't it?
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peripety
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 12:08 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this, and adding the pictures. It made such a lovely journey for my evening.

*hugs you*
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:13 am (UTC)
Thank you - glad you enjoyed it:)
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plaidpjs
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 12:51 am (UTC)
Wow, what a treat. I found your post while checking my friends of list and couldn't be more glad I decided to stay home this Saturday night.

Thank you so much.
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:25 am (UTC)
Thank you - glad you enjoyed it - I enjoyed putting it together too. Feel like I've been to Hobbiton again:)
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ink_gypsy
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 01:17 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for posting this, and adding the photos. I had never read it.

I asked if there was going to be a bloopers and outtakes movie, and Jackson said yes, it would be part of the DVD release.

Hmmm....I wonder what DVD he was talking about because we're still waiting for those.
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:30 am (UTC)
Hmmm....I wonder what DVD he was talking about because we're still waiting for those.

I'm sure PJ once said the bloopers would be part of the super boxed dvd set - don't know when we can expect to get this but at least its something else to look forward to:)
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:32 am (UTC)
There was never a lovelier character in a movie than Frodo as portrayed by Elijah. He was pure magic in every frame.

So very true. Glad you enjoyed the report & pics:)
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primula_baggins
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 03:34 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for posting this. I had never seen it either. So touching to go back and reminisce about it all.
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:35 am (UTC)
So touching to go back and reminisce about it all.

It is lovely to reminisce - I shall be posting some more 'memories' on my LJ soon:)
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elfellon111
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:11 am (UTC)
I don't know exactly *how* you knew it was time for such a trip down memory lane, but it absolutely *was*. And then those gorgeous pictures to go along with it. Eighteen and bouncing... *sigh* Thank you - I positively adored this, and now I will spend my Sunday watching FotR, which is always a good thing!

:)
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:41 am (UTC)
Eighteen and bouncing... *sigh*

*sighs with you* Tehanu's report is so descriptive, isn't it? I envy her that experience so much:)
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annwyn55
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 09:02 am (UTC)
What a lovely report. I think I read part of it on TORn, but it's more immediate with the pictures somehow. I really regret that I didn't join the fandom until after FOTR. The making of the movie was a magical time.

Thank you for posting this. So many beautiful memories...
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 09:22 am (UTC)
I really regret that I didn't join the fandom until after FOTR. The making of the movie was a magical time.

Oh, so do I - I would love to have been in at the very start of all this - the first I knew was when I saw an FOTR trailer & knew I'd want to see that film. Perhaps if I'd read the books before then it would have been different.
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frodosweetstuff
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 09:12 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. Never saw it before.

Btw, is there some sort of law that only people with Frodo icons may comment? Not that I mind... *giggles*
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 09:25 am (UTC)
Btw, is there some sort of law that only people with Frodo icons may comment? Not that I mind... *giggles*

Tee hee - hadn't even noticed that until you mentioned it!! But I think that would be a very good law - although Elijah icons would be allowed too. Love yours, btw:)
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ladysunrope
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Time:2005-06-12 09:40 am (UTC)
I remember reading this. I was one of those people when the rumours about Elijah as Frodo came out who had a moment of'WHAT???' How wrong I was and so pleased to be wrong too. I remember sitting in FOTR thinking 'Bloody hell, he IS Frodo.' The only film ever I've watched that when it was over, caused me a real ache of loss.

I met Tehanu when I was in NZ. She was about to move to the US, she was marrying an American. Very intelligent, sometimes abrupt lady but my goodness loves her LOTR. It was very gracious of her to have dinner with 14 LOTR geeks all desperate to ask her about the film.
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 01:28 pm (UTC)
I wish I'd been in at the very beginning but its been fascinating to trawl through all the various archives - I remember reading all the posts at Aint It Cool News when Elijah's casting was announced - many there had the same reaction as you and Lij has even talked about that in some interviews. I'm sure their fears were all dispelled as soon as they saw him.

How great that you met Tehanu - must have been quite an experience:)
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janejanejane
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 12:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for posting this, dear friend! Don't think I've seen it before so I'm printing it out to enjoy repeatedly at my leisure ;)

I'm missing LOTR so much I can't tell you... And there's still lots more I'm sure that we could learn and share in from behind the scenes, as you say. Thanks for adding the pics - all much appreciated!

I too wish Elijah would write his own book about becoming Frodo and his personal experiences to do with LOTR, I'm sure it would make fascinating reading!

I found a very interesting "Quotespam" on Woodlust, I think it was, where Kindling had put together various quotes about Lij's acting in different movies with pics from those films. Thought you might like to read it so here's the link -
http://www.livejournal.com/users/_kindling/55680.html#cutid1

*hugs*
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 01:39 pm (UTC)
I'm missing LOTR so much I can't tell you... And there's still lots more I'm sure that we could learn and share in from behind the scenes

I'm missing the excitement of having another LOTR film to look forward to, or another extended dvd, but as Elijah said, there is something nice about having the complete thing to look at whenever we can and there is just so much behind the scenes material on those dvds, and in the film books, and the various tv documentaries that you can always discover something new. I will never tire of it, I love it so much - but that doesn't mean I'm not greedy for more and wondering when that super- duper box set dvd is coming out!! I really wish Lij would write a book, I'm definitely going to bring up that subject should I get a chance.

Yes, I did see Kindling's post - it was lovely:)
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ourdramaqueen
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 12:42 pm (UTC)
I'm yet another one who never saw this report before - thank you so much for putting it up! *hugs*
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 01:42 pm (UTC)
I'm quite surprised that so many people had never read it before - but then, it does go back rather a long way. I just love trawling through the archives on the various LOTR sites - every time I discover something new, even the smallest snippet, it makes my day:)
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evening_emerald
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-12 08:38 pm (UTC)
And YET ANOTHER ONE who never saw this report before -- thanks so much for posting! Like several others here, I regret that I didn't join the fandom until about midway through. Looking back, I would so loved to have been around when it was all just beginning -- I adore all the clips about the making of the movie. Tehanu was the luckiest person in the world! *sigh*
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not_alone
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-06-13 09:44 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it, and yes, she was so lucky!! I wish I'd been in at the very beginning - I only became aware of all this when I saw a trailer for FOTR in 2001 - started reading the book later in the year and finally got to see the film 26 Jan 2002. The rest, as they say, is history:)
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[icon] MEMORIES ~ SUMMER IN THE SHIRE - NotAlone
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