My Kiwi neighbour came back from working on The Hobbit in New Zealand today. He’s a sculptor and he was woking on various sets for the movie.
Here’s some of what he told me today during lunch.
Me: “Welcome back to Oz. So how was working on The Hobbit?”
“It was a lot of hard work. The movie is being filmed in 3D, and there are around 18 different 3D cameras being used. Some are hand-held and some are really huge on dollies [and there is] one on a big crane. Because of the restrictions with the bigger cameras, many of the sets have to have a pull away section and special holes for the camera tracks and arms.”
Me: “So how long were you there?”
“One year, but not all that time was spent on the sets. The production was split up into sections so we had time off to rest.”
Me: “Can you tell me about some of the sets?
“My favourite was Mirkwood. It’s a huge forest that is supposed to be dream-like. We created a forest in the studio that was able to be quickly changed around so it appeared to go on forever and look really huge. There were lots of trees and shrubs and heaps of vines and stuff. It looks creepy just walking around in there! Peter Jackson wanted colourful fungus and vines, there are orange mushrooms and purple fungus that contrast with the black gnarled trees of the forest. There is a lot of colour! There is also a lot of water that is murky and has all sorts of stuff floating around on it.”
Me: “How was it working with the staff and did you meet Peter Jackson?”
“I didn’t actually meet Peter Jackson, but he was on set and I saw him. I saw many of the actors too, but for the most part my job was to construct the sets and sculpt pieces that were required for various scenes. I was really deep behind the scenes!
Sometimes we would sculpt the same piece five or six times before it was accepted, and sometimes we had to recolour things several times. The way the movie is being filmed, some colours don’t actually show up on the finished film, so some things are coloured a lot brighter than they would normally be.”
Me: “What was the most memorable thing for you working on this film?”
“It was funny at times because Peter Jackson and the film crew would be looking at these drawings of the sets, and comparing them to the finished sets, all the while wearing 3D glasses! They would hold up the drawings with their 3D glasses on, then take them off and look at the sets and stuff. That was the first time I’d ever seen that sort of thing.”
Me: “And what’s next? Another movie perhaps?
“I’m heading up to Queensland to work on some sets for another film there and I’ll be back in another year, so I’ll see you then!”
There you have it, the hard work of a set constructor and sculptor for movies! Hopefully he’ll have some more to tell me about the new movie he’s working on when he gets back.