‘Rings’ set standard for using DVD format
by Ed Will
Denver Post – March 16, 2003
Director Peter Jackson began pre-production on his film trilogy of the “Lord of the Rings” before the DVD boom but created a blueprint for other filmmakers who want to maximize their use of the new format.
“The Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition” won this year’s two top DVD Premiere Awards among new releases: best special edition and best overall extra feature. Its top extra is an extended version of “Fellowship.”
Jackson planned from the beginning to make lengthier versions of each “Ring” film for the home market, said Michael Pellerin, who produced the DVD.
“Three hours is a very long movie by today’s standards,” Pellerin said. “That is about all you can get away with.
“So he makes as good a movie as he can for three hours, and then right before the next movie comes out, he release a (version) with about a half-hour more footage that helps enhance your viewing of the next movie, because it flushes out character details, plot details and elements of the story that get revealed (more) in the next film.”
People who don’t see the 3 1/2-hour version, however, can still enjoy the new move, Pellerin said.
“He is kind of using DVD as sort of a staircase of telling his story, as ramps up to the next film,” Pellerin said.
Other “Fellowship” extras include multiple documentaries on the making of the film, which look at the book-to-film adaptation process; planning of the film; designing and building Middle-earth, weapons, armor, creatures and miniatures; a guided tour of the wardrobe department; a day in the life of a hobbit; an interactive map of Middle-earth that traces the Fellowship’s journey and one of location scoutingin New Zealand.
All that and the DVD’s other supplementary offerings were possible because the director understood that DVD is an entirely separate medium from film, Pellerin said.
Jackson hired New Zealand filmmaker Costa Botes, with whom he made “Forgotten Silver,” to ramrod a crew of cameramen charged with creating a detailed history of three films being made at one time.
Botes and his crew had to record five different units that were shooting for more than a year.
Pellerin came on the project in March 2001, after principle photography had been completed.
He found a mountain of material: thousands of hours of footage shot for the film, tens of thousands of pieces of artwork and photographs and all the B-roll film.
Pellerin spent March through August researching the material and interviewing the cast and crew.
“In may ways the ‘Fellowship’ disc is only part one,” Pellerin said. “You will see when the ‘Two Towers’ DVD comes out. It is planned as part two of one edition. It is kind of like the movies are ultimately one movie,” Pellerin said.