May 29, 2001
It's a Dead Ringer... Or Is It?
Welcome to Laird Of The Ringer, a spoof about people trying to cash in on The Lord Of The Rings, filmed in one day at Avalon Park yesterday by freelance cameraman Stephen Press, who also wrote, directed and co-produced the film.
"We're coming in under budget and ahead of time," he laughed this morning, with the film set to appear in the Fringe Short Film Festival at the Paramount from July 9-13.
The budget is $200, a fraction of The Lord Of The Rings' more than $600 million, and the cast is a mere 30 people, though it does include Chris Wright, from television's Fair Go, and apparently "one of Rings' director Peter Jackson's cousins".
But Mr Press, who has worked with ITN, BBC and Disney, insists he is not out to mock The Lord Of The Rings.
"It's a mockumentary about a crowd of people who are trying to take off Lord Of The Rings," he says.
"We're not really poking fun at LOTR. We're poking fun at New Zealand wannabes. I wanted to poke fun at some film makers I've worked with recently."
And despite the tiny budget, he is confident of the film's underlying quality. Despite talk of a thriving "Wellywood" film industry, there was not much quality work, with a good budget, going on, he said.
"I bet my $200 short film will beat the socks off some people who have had an $11,000 budget."
American movie giant New Line, backers of the Rings movie, is not backward in coming forward when it comes to enforcing its legal rights but Mr Press is confident Laird Of The Ringer will not bring a raft of lawyers to his doorstep.
"We've been very careful to make sure there are no hobbits in there . . . everything else is generic," he said.
"We tried to have no one from Lord Of The Rings in it but the more you look into it someone says they were the third orc from the back.
"I did talk to (Rings special effects unit) Weta about making the film and they seemed to think it would be all right . . . well, they haven't got back to me."
Mr Press decided to make the movie as therapy after a gruelling schedule working on Road, a single-shot, 80-minute movie made early this year in Wellington.
And there will be an opening party of sorts for Laird Of The Ringer, though it may struggle to rival Peter Jackson's triumphant shindig.
"There's $2.50 left in the budget, so the first person there might get a free can of Coke."