In the News: Tolkien film-makers begin talks with businesses - Otago Daily Times
Tolkien film-makers begin talks with businesses
by David Williams
Otago Daily Times - December 17th, 1999
Queenstown: Film-makers are talking with caterers, technical crews and construction managers in the Southern Lakes as the countdown continues towards the biggest cinema production in the southern hemisphere.
News of Peter Jackson`s $264 million, three-movie deal for Lord of the Rings broke in August, accompanied by word that locations in the Southern Lakes and Central Otago would be used.
Producer Tim Sanders, of Wanaka, said from Wellington yesterday that discussions were tentative at this stage. Crews were not expected to be working in and around Queenstown until February and filming work would start later in the year.
"We don`t need lights or catering until we start the filming process but we have had discussions [with suppliers]."
Initial approaches had been made to construction companies but set design work had not been completed so more detailed negotiations were still "a few months away", he said.
Queenstown was still likely to be the southern base for location shooting, he said, some- thing that would be decided in February.
From past experience and the budget of the project, he said "a lot of money" would be spent in the area.
"We will be bringing large numbers of people into town, so all the accommodation has to be taken care of. We`ll also be hiring lots of local people to help . . . and there`s always the entertainment side - everyone spends all their money in town," he said.
Mr Sanders said making the Lord of the Rings was a "gigantic" undertaking.
"There are bigger budget films made in Hollywood and very occasionally in the UK, but I can`t think of anywhere else," he said.
"They have this massive infrastructure in which to do their work - thousands and thousands of suppliers, scores of different camera rental places - it`s a true industry in Hollywood but it isn`t anywhere else, and when we`re doing it down here we have to invent what they`ve already got."
Everything from quaint villages to costumes, castles and hand props, had to be manufactured before filming could start.
Mr Sanders said the film was being made in New Zealand because the country had in a small area what J. R. R.Tolkien`s books described - rustic countryside, mighty snowy mountains and volcanoes. But the single most important factor was Peter Jackson.
"He`s the guy who came up with the idea of doing it now, who put the idea together and pitched it successfully to the overseas people . . . He`s why we`re doing it in New Zealand."