The Southland Times
November 9, 1999

Rings Production Crew Begins Filming in Wanaka
Sue Fea

Ghostly goings-on could have heads turning around Wanaka this week as the 100-strong, second production unit for Peter Jackson's $360 million Lord of the Rings trilogy starts filming there.

Publicist Claire Raskind said yesterday was the second day of shooting in Wanaka for the second unit, led by director John Mahaffie.

Lord of the Rings creator and main director Peter Jackson is expected in Queenstown to head the 400-strong cast and crew when filming starts there next week.

Queenstown-based Mahaffie, a long- standing director of photography and director for the Auckland-based TV series Hercules, has worked with Jackson as a cameraman on other film projects, including Heavenly Creatures.

The second unit would "filter over" to Queenstown starting from next week to join the main unit, Ms Raskind said.

"They`re starting out (in Wanaka) doing some scenes of ring wraiths, who are evil- type characters," Ms Raskind said.

Lord of the Rings producer Tim Sanders, a part-time Wanaka resident, arrived there with the first echelon of production crew on Thursday.

Hollywood stunt director Greg Powell is also in Wanaka this week working on stunts for the movie.

Powell is best known for his work on Mission Impossible, Lost in Space and more recently The Mummy and The Arabian Nights, which he has just finished working on.

Top swordsmen are also expected to act in the movie`s battle scenes, which will at times feature up to 250 horses.

Ms Raskind said they had "more than enough horse riders" after further auditions in Glenorchy and Mossburn at the weekend.

However, auditions scheduled for Mosgiel and Middlemarch on Saturday and Gore on Sunday will go ahead anyway.

Riders must be adult and capable horse handlers, she said.

More than 95 percent of Lord of the Rings cast and crew are New Zealanders but lead roles are being played by top international actors including Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Ian Holm and Liv Tyler.

One of New Zealand`s largest movie productions, Lord of the Rings will employ about 650 people, including special effects computer artists and three fulltime crews.

Up to 5000 extras will be used in the movie.