Sunday Star Times
November 21, 1999Satellite Keeps
Director Lord of the Rings
Oskar Alley & Kim
Kiwi movie director Peter Jackson is using satellite
technology to be in three places at once for filming of his blockbuster Lord of the Rings.
The three parts of JRR Tolkien's trilogy are being filmed simultaneously, in different
parts of the country, raising the question of how Jackson can oversee the project. Telecom
has confirmed that the latest in satellite technology is the answer.
Spokesman Glew Sowry said the system was effectively an
advanced video conferencing system which ran off a satellite dedicated to the $360 million
Rings production. Producer Barrie Osborne said yesterday the system was invaluable though
there were still a few "shakedown" problems. "On any given day we can be
filming for book one, two of three in very remote areas. The satellite means we can keep
track of everybody."
Jackson was on location working with the actors but could
also monitor other work, Osborne said. Sowry said the linkup beamed images, as they were
being filmed into a satellite. A video camera was also used as a back-up. The technology
used was similar to the emplyed in Packific Island countries which did not have fibre
Meanwhile, flooded sets and forced evacuations to escape
rising rivers marred the first full week of filming for the Rings cast and crew in
Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau. Film units in the three towns were cut off from each other
due to flooding on local roads, said Osborne. A horse chase sequence to be filmed in the
Wanaka area was put on hold because of flooding and the threat of the unit being cut off.
Sets along some rivers near Queenstown were swept away. "In Te Anau we had to stop
filming -- the rising rivers were going to cut us off. Our people did not want to spend
the night trapped in the middle of a paddock."
"We had tried to film one scene, but it started snowing.
That was totally inappropriate for the scene. It's all pretty disruptive, but nothing can
stop us from getting to Mordor," he said. Ironically, a covered set built to enable
filming in rany weather had also sat idle when flooded rivers rendered it inaccessible. In
Queenstown, the unit was repairing and salvaging flood-damaged sets. Publicist Claire
Raskind said the cast on location in Te Anau was having to treat carefully in the soggy
conditions. "they have their heavy prosthetics -- you know, special ears and feet and
so on. Plus their costumes and makeup," she said.
The base camp is 30km from Te Anau, on a farm. Filming for
Rings continues in the area through to mid December, when cast and crew break for