In the News: Jackson snaps up Nat Film Unit - The Evening Post

In addition to the information on the technical aspects of the LOTR production in this article (sent in by Susan W.), it also mentions in passing that Christopher Lee is now in Wellington, New Zealand filming scenes between Saruman and Gandalf (I'm sure the "Sauron" comment was a slip by Jackson)...

Jackson snaps up Nat Film Unit
by Tom Cardy
The Evening Post - February 8, 2000

Movie director Peter Jackson made a rare public appearance yesterday to promote new hi-tech facilities at a film studio in Lower Hutt. But he couldn't escape questions on progress in filming Lord Of The Rings.

Jackson held the launch at The Film Studio, formerly the National Film Unit, which his company WingNut Films bought from Television New Zealand.

Guests included Prime Minister Helen Clark, Speaker Jonathan Hunt, Hutt City Mayor John Terris and film industry representatives, including director Vincent Ward.

None of the film's stars, including Sir Ian McClellen, Elijah Wood or Christopher Lee -- who is now in Wellington -- attended the launch. Jackson told guests he had a reason for not preparing a speech.

"Spending all day with Gandalf telling Sauron the ring must be destroyed . . . over and over again. My head's in a different space at the moment."

"It's always very exciting, it's a very famous book. It's a provilege to be involved in Lord Of The Rings. You wake up every morning and plan to do that [film the book]. It's like a large military operation."

He had recently been checking areas around Mt Ruapehu and confirmed it may be used as the location for Mordor -- a place in the novel which included the volcanoe Mt Doom. "It's a strong possibility."

At the heart of the new hi-tech facility at The Film Unit is a machine called a Y-front telecine. The machine copies film on to a digital format for editing and special effects. It's the only one in Wellington and the newest in New Zealand.

The machine was being used for commercials and New Zealand films, along with overseas films including The Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, and The Vertical Limit, being filmed in Queenstown.

Jackson said he watched each day's shooting of The Lord Of The Rings on film, but he also got the film copied using the machine so he could check it again at weekends.

Miss Clark praised Jackson for investing in the former National Film Unit. She said the Government and New Zealand Film Commission were considering a film development fund to help new film makers.

The Government could put in about $10 million over the first three years to help film makers with their second film.

A further funding pool of about $50 million could also be developed, of which most would come from film industry investors.

A final decision on the fund wouldn't be made until closer to the Budget, later this year.

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