After countless delays, directorial confusion, and assorted other issues, Peter Jackson is finally shooting The Hobbit. JRR Tolkien’s beloved story of Bilbo Baggins and his grand adventure to meet the dragon Smaug paved the way for The Lord of the Rings – so it seems only natural that the film gets the big screen treatment too. With the tale set to be broken into two parts (which is all the rage these days…), Jackson and crew are hard at work in New Zealand shooting what is one of the most anticipated films on the horizon.
Along for the ride is Eric Vespe, better known as Quint to readers at Ain’t It Cool News. Vespe was invited to “embed” himself with the production as it shoots its way across the New Zealand countryside. To say we’re all jealous is a monumental understatement. Once our envy subsided, we took a look at the first of what promises to be many set reports (complete with pictures) from Vespe – if the rest are as good as the first one, readers are in for a real treat.
Vespe’s first entry chronicles his first day on the set and arrival at Hobbiton, which is really located at Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand – on the North Island.
This was where they shot the Hobbiton footage for Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films as well, so it’s sort of like a Middle Earth Mecca. New Zealand is a beautiful location, and we suspect that Vespe’s pictures of Hobbiton don’t really do it justice – not because they’re bad photos, but because the way he describes the scenery and location seem to indicate that it’s a place that has to be visited to be truly appreciated.
Vespe spends much of his first day on a hill overlooking Hobbiton while Jackson and crew shoot some early scenes with Frodo (Elijah Wood). Yes, Frodo is in The Hobbit. While he may not have turned up in the original Tolkien book, he is in Jackson’s film – most likely to provide a sense of continuity between this film and his earlier trilogy. As a fan of Tolkien’s novel, I’m not sure how I feel about this – but I’m trusting Peter Jackson for now.
The day’s shooting involves a scene wherein Frodo must speak with Bilbo, but since Bilbo actor Ian Holm isn’t on location, Martin Freeman stands in for him and Wood delivers his lines. It seems, according to Vespe, that Freeman does a pretty good Holm impersonation.
The rest of the day is filled with the mechanics of filmmaking. Figuring out positions, waiting for the right lighting, matching current shots with footage of previous shots, and waiting for the circling planes of curious fans to pass overhead takes up a large chunk of time. Still, this is the magic of filmmaking.
While Vespe’s set report is fascinating stuff for anyone interested in The Hobbit or filmmaking in general, what will really get the Internet buzzing is a new photo of Elijah Wood as Frodo. Taken from a distance and at an angle, the new shot shows Wood outside in The Shire while a cast and crew scurry around him. Since we’ve all seen Frodo before, this isn’t a “stop the presses” type photo – but it does certainly bring a smile to our face seeing Wood back in the land of Hobbits. At the very least, it proves that after all the pre-production drama and fear, this project is really happening at last.
Vespe is scheduled to spend two months with the crew, so this is just the first of what promises to be many updates on The Hobbit. If the rest are as cool and informative as this one, we can’t wait to read more. Head over to AICN for the full report.