For months now, the blogosphere has been abuzz with anticipation for The Hunt for Gollum, a 40 minute film prequel to The Lord of the Rings, which will finally be released online on May 3rd.
Why does anyone care about a low budget fan project? Basically, the two very impressive-looking trailers released by the producers have raised expectations dramatically.
In short, this looks like it could be one seriously cool film!
What exactly can we expect? Recently, we sat down with the film’s screenwriter/director, Chris Bouchard, an independent filmmaker who previously composed the music for another online fan project, Star Wars: Revelations.
TheTorchOnline: So, in a nutshell, what’s the story?
Chris Bouchard: Well, the The Hunt For Gollum falls just before The Fellowship of the Ring in the timeline — in fact, it overlaps at the end! In the books, Aragorn and Gandalf describe how they spent a few years trying to find Gollum, firstly to discover how he found the Ring, but also to prevent Sauron from finding out about it. It seemed like an interesting journey for us to show from Aragorn’s point of view, when he’s still just a Ranger. The film is 40 minutes long and tells of who and what he meets along the way, as well as his encounters with Gollum himself.
TTO: How did all this come about?
CB: It started from a love of Lord of the Rings books, and the films, and the desire to make low budget films in my spare time. Collaboration on projects like this is always a lot of fun, plus it’s fascinating to try to be really ambitious when making films, even without any established funding or support. So I gradually assembled a team of like-minded people, and we set about making it together based on a screenplay I adapted in May 2007.
TTO: What’s the thing that’s been most difficult to bring to life?
CB: Doing a film like this with a big budget “look” without any money! To be more specific: bringing Gollum himself to life has been a major challenge. I really didn’t want to cop out and knew that seeing Gollum would be an important part of the film. We have used just about every trick in the book to portray Gollum on screen without the full power of Weta Digital behind us! The Orcs and filming the fight scenes were also a massive team effort, with some incredibly talented people working very hard to make it all happen.
TTO: What’s the part you’re most proud of?
CB: I guess I’m pretty proud of our Orcs. Orcs are just brilliantly funny to have hanging around on set. Secondly, but perhaps even more impressive are the visual effects that Adam Thomas, our VFX supervisor, and company have achieved are nothing short of amazing. We had over 50 CGI artists all over the world, collaborating together over the internet, to make over a hundred digital effect shots. It really helps bring Middle-Earth to life and they look pretty impressive for a zero budget collaborative production.
TTO: Have you had any contact with the rights-holders of Lord of the Rings? I’m assuming you’re hoping, as the Star Trek fan video people do, that you’ll be allowed to do what you do, as long as there’s no money being made on your part?
CB: I think we’re one of the first to release a serious quality Lord of the Rings fan film out, so we are incredibly careful and insist that the project is completely non-profit. We’re not making a penny from the film, and it has no commercial purpose, or advertising attached. We have been in contact with the rights holders and have reached an understanding. That’s all I can say there.
TTO: Is this it? Will there be future installments?
CB: Well, for those who want more there’s Born of Hope coming soon - our sister production which tells the story of Aragorn’s parents which is well into production. I myself am really glad to be helping on set when I get time, as it’s great to observe another film-maker as well as take part in other departments. Check it out and you might see a few of the rest of the Gollum crew on there.
For me, I’ve spent a very satisfying two years in Middle-earth so I think I’d like to tackle something new: an original sci-fi fantasy film which we’ll be giving more details of on our website following the release! I’m really excited about doing something fresh and new, and exploring a new world on screen.
The Hunt for Gollum (plus a 30 minute documentary about it) will be released (for free) on Sunday May 3rd at 4pm, simultaneously with our premiere at SCI-FI-LONDON festival. It will be streaming in HD on www.thehuntforgollum.com.
- Review: THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM Does Not Disappoint
- New LORD OF THE RINGS Fan Film, BORN OF HOPE, Released Today
- Tolkien Family Lawsuit Means THE HOBBIT Movie May Not Get Made
- Everything Else That Can (and Probably WILL) Go Wrong with THE HOBBIT Movie
- THE HOBBIT’s Moving Forward! New Line Settles With the Tolkien Estate