The Press
August 19, 2000

Middle Earth in South Island
Kevin Taylor

A new round of filming on the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy production is due to start next week in the South Island.

The publicist for the $360 million production, Claire Raskind, said yesterday that filming would start next week on a mountain in the Golden Bay area, but she declined to be more specific about the location.

The 500 cast and crew would move to the Queenstown-Te Anau area for more filming, and then in the middle of next month they would shift to Mount Potts, in Mid-Canterbury.

Ms Raskind said big battle scenes would be filmed at Mount Potts, where a set representing Edoras, the capital city of Rohan, from J. R.R.Tolkien's Middle Earth, has been built.

Defence Force personnel would be extensively involved in the battle scenes. On one of the filming days nearly 300 extras, many from the Defence Force, will be involved, she said.

Ms Raskind said the relationship between the production company, Three Foot Six, and the Defence Force had been good during previous filming in the central North Island.

"It's helpful to us and I think they enjoy it – as long as it does not take them away from their military functions," she said.

In addition to using soldiers for battle scenes, Three Foot Six has been holding casting sessions in Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, and Twizel for people to work as extras.

The Press was forced to apply under the Official Information Act to the Defence Force for information about its involvement in the film because of an agreement on publicity arrangements between the government department and Three Foot Six. The act requires replies within 20 working days.

After a 24 working-day wait, a Defence Force spokesman said yesterday that about 100 personnel from the army, navy, and air force would be involved in the Mount Potts filming.

They were coming from Auckland, Linton, and Burnham.