10/13/11

Not All Who Wander Are Lost - Enjoying "The Hobbit" in Pre-Production

That's my favorite line from "The Fellowship of the Ring" and it's been on loop in my head for a few days now.

But that's because I've been sick. Like super sick. Like feverish haze sick. For a few months, I've been pining after the special features on the extended versions of "The Lord of the Rings" box sets. They've been sitting on my book shelf calling to me. They are mine...my own...my precious. But I've been so busy there just hasn't been time to pull them down and watch them. So I admit, I was almost glad when I got sick. Because it meant I would finally have time to indulge. (Let me put it this way, I've been so busy, I just keep my makeup in the glove compartment of my car and I searched for gel that sets my natural waves because taking the time to blow dry my hair every day seems absurd.)

Back when the box sets were rolling out in the Christmas seasons after each movie's initial theatrical release in the early 2000's, I can remember greedily tearing into them after receiving them as Christmas gifts. I would stay up all night long to watch them. (And I mean multiple nights, multiple viewings.) I was even taking all the books with me to my waitressing job at The Olive Garden in Muncie, Indiana and stuffing them in the plastic plants anytime I got a table. Sneaking a paragraph here and there. And I can remember feeling so fulfilled in my "Lord of the Rings" obsession that I actually didn't mind when I was kicked out of school for not being able to pay my tuition. I stayed out of school for a calendar year, waiting tables and slinging coffee at a local bookstore and just enjoying the books and films...



I've already waxed emotional about the start of "The Lord of the Rings" prequels, I've tried to prepare the world for the glory that is Martin Freeman, and I've tried to help others understand the obstacles the productions had to overcome in order to finally call, "Action!" I even had the chance to talk to Lord of the Rings producer Mark Ordesky in an interview with filmmaker Larry Longstreth, and consequently, there is still a valuable part 2 to that interview that's still on its way. (Any aspiring creatives will want to read it and it will be published here on BFG this month.)

All annoying self-promotion aside, suffice it to say, I'm a GIANT FAN.

So tonight at the tail end of my special features marathon, my husband surprised me by setting our laptop down in front of me and showing me the following videos from Peter Jackson and crew over at The Hobbit Blog. But I also haunt theonering.net and The Hobbit Movie on Facebook and I would encourage you to do the same.






But wait, there's more! (And how cool is it that Andy Serkis is now directing?)



Are you geeking out over "The Hobbit"? If so, why? I know asking a geek why they geek is like asking why the sky is blue. It's just sort of a part of who we are. But I'm older now and further down the road on my life and career and I realize now that part of the reason why I am so drawn to special features is that I want to write and direct. (I know...who doesn't?) But I can see now that my obsession with seeing behind the scenes on "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" has a lot to do with that aspiration. 

There's absolutely no better role model for an aspiring director than Peter Jackson, who is firm but kind, completely humble but not in a false way, and the work he creates is timeless and on some kind of higher artistic plain than most of us could ever hope to attain. He seems to get the best out of people even in terrible and punishing filming circumstances. But best of all, he brought the magic of film to his hometown, employing locals and managing to avoid the rumored scuzz and corruption of Hollywood and Los Angeles. 

Aside from the emotional connection many of us feel toward the material from the literature, Peter Jackson has become sort of a legend himself. He is as much a part of our obsession as all the details and timelines and characters we love to discuss from the books. He's one of us, a total geek. (And I mean that as a compliment.) And yet, he's living the dream and making the magic. He's become the accidental mascot of an entire generation of book nerds, proving that it's okay to obsess if you know how to spend your energy and time in a healthy and productive way. 

Watching the special features, you see that he hired a massive team of obsessive nerds. Artists John Howe and Alan Lee had spent years illustrating scenes for the books for personal and professional reasons and even legendary actor Christopher Lee has admitted to reading "The Lord of the Rings" once a year for most of his life. (That's not to mention the staff of WETA Workshop who are comprised of medieval armor experts, painters, sculptors, and more. The stunt people who probably all grew up obsessed with Bruce Lee movies...you can see the point I'm trying to make here, right? Geeks grow up to do all the fun stuff if they know how to withstand the criticism of people who think they're total weirdos.)

As for me, I plan to continue enjoying pre-production on "The Hobbit" in my own special ways. Visiting the websites, talking about the films with friends and just enjoying the anticipation of both Hobbit films. The day I went to see all three LOTR films in the theaters during a marathon in Fort Wayne when "Return of the King" was released was almost sad. I remember thinking, "I wish I had enjoyed the era when LOTR wasn't finished yet even more when I had the chance." It's fun when these things are in the zeitgeist. When the internet is abuzz and the books are being reprinted and everyone is talking about it. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. Revel in all my dorky glory. 

And you???

It's fun to spot Gloin! (You know, as in "Gimli, son of Gloin."


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