Principal photography on The Lord of the Rings ended in a rush the Friday before Christmas. Any financial penalties and rewards have been avoided and earned. I am enroute for home in the UK. The rest of the team (3000 plus) are on holiday and wondering where the next job may emerge. The sets on location have been dismantled and the Stone Street Studios are quiet, except for the aircraft landing at the adjacent airport. So, you might wonder, why does everyone have to wait another twelve months before the release of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of the trilogy of movies that have taken 18 months to film?
The answer lies in the lie that all filming is completed. "Principal photography" of the actors is, indeed, finished and we don't expect to be recalled to New Zealand. But each of us has a double who may well be working again by the middle of January, shooting essential linking shots, "pickups" that Peter Jackson and his editors need to mesh the final jigsaw together. In WETA's digital workshops Gandalf's image, shot against bluescreen, will be matched to backgrounds of deepest Moria or the highest sky, with a computerized battling Balrog and soaring Gwaihir carrying him to safety from the Tower of Orthanc. Andy Serkis's Gollum will take months to perfect. Even when the pictures are close to completion and Peter's final cut is ready for New Line's approval, the huge job of re-recording the dialogue has to be done, with a cast now working on or considering other projects in Australia, Europe, Asia or North America. Then there are sound effects and music to be composed. All in all a good year's work to be done and so the world must wait.
In the meantime "A Happy 2001 to You." Ian McKellen, 1 January 2001