It appears that if you want the scoop on what’s going on with the production of Peter Jackson’s adaption of The Hobbit, you better be monitoring his Facebook page. In the last 24 hours the director has made two posts about the film – one discussing the writing process he uses for a film like this and a second one clarifying a bit of casting.
Let’s take the second, and shorter, of the two first. Last week, Jackson posted a ten minute video detailing the days leading up to the commencement of filming and the first few days of shooting. It turns out that there was some confusion as to who was reading he opening lines from J R R Tolkien’s original novel at the end of the piece. Jackson clears that up by saying –
One comment that came up from the recent video blog was the Bilbo voice at the end—many of you assumed it was Sir Ian Holm. Whilst Ian will be returning as the older Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, that recording was actually Martin Freeman’s voice, taken from a script read through we recorded when the cast first arrived. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure who it was when I first heard it, either. Cheers, Peter J
And in the process he manages to confirm that Ian Holm will be back to reprise his role of the older Bilbo Baggins that he played in Lord Of The Rings. Presumably he’ll be appearing in scenes with Elijah Wood, who is returning to play Bilbo’s nephew Frodo. Speculation is that their scenes will be part of a framing device in which Bilbo tells Frodo of his adventures which make up the main part of the film.
Jackson’s longer post sees him discussing the stages a film’s script goes through before and during production. It’s an interesting read and we present to you in its entirety for those who aren’t on Facebook.
Just arrived at our four-day Easter break, which will be a nice time to recharge batteries and do a few script tweaks for future scenes.
We always find there are three distinct phases in the life of a film script. First, it exists before the film starts shooting. In this period, which can last from months to years, the script is a theoretical document—an imaginative version of the movie.
Then you start shooting and things come much more into focus—usually in a very positive way. We now have actors who bring their skill to the roles and suddenly we see the characters in a more vivid and tangible way. This is both fun and satisfying, and always inspires us to embark on constant script revisions to meet the renewed potential these characters now have. I feel that much of the best writing happens during this period, but it does make a very busy time—very, very busy! Sometimes we have gotten these revisions to the actors a little late. We constantly joke to Ian McKellen that tomorrow’s script pages will be slid under his door sometime the night before… and sometimes that has been true.
The worst case of this came during The Fellowship of the Ring, when we revised Boromir’s long speech about Mordor at the last minute and only got it to Sean Bean on the day it was being shot. Sean handled it very cleverly—if you look at the movie, you’ll see he occasionally has his head bowed, as if dealing with the emotional weight of the horrors of Mordor. In actual fact, the new script page had been taped to his knee! By the time we were done with several takes and a few different camera angles, Sean had the speech down pat, and it was mainly those takes that were used in the final cut.
The final writing phase comes in post-production, when you edit the movie. No matter what you were imagining when you wrote the script, and what you imagined during the shoot, nothing now matters beyond the actual cut film. We often find that script work continues during post, including writing and shooting new scenes, reorganising the order of scenes, or recording additional dialogue to slip into shots. We do all of these things, and the writing only stops when the film is finally finished.
Many thanks for all the comments about the first posts. A few common questions have come up and I’ll answer some of those over the break. Now to get back to the script for those Rivendell scenes we have coming up…