Outdoor production on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is well underway in New Zealand, as the highly anticipated film's trailer reveals, and now director Peter Jackson is lifting the veil on the production process with a cool video blog entry about the logistics of location shooting.
"Dwarves in boats; everybody thinks they're a sailor," jokes Jackson as a rubber raft full of the movie's key characters drift by in the background. "It's been great to get outside. It's been great to get that texture of Middle-earth into the movie after many, many weeks of shooting in the studio."
Moving the Hobbit production crew into the wilds of New Zealand for a two-month shoot just before the holidays is the equivalent of coordinating a small army: The main unit crew alone is comprised of approximately 500 members, with 200 more second-unit filmmakers dispatched to various parts of the country. To transport all the equipment, generators, props, costumes, set dressing, Hobbit feet, livestock, food, water and other creature-comfort amenities requires a fleet of close to 140 vehicles, not to mention airplanes, helicopters, flatbed uphill tows, motorboats and, of course, those rubber rafts.
Just like he did with his The Lord of the Rings production diaries, Jackson delivers a special treat for fans of the series, detailing the various aspects of production and revealing the personalities of the behind-the-scenes crew.
In this new entry, he enlists none other than Frodo Baggins himself, Elijah Wood, to give a guided tour and share his feelings about returning to The Shire more than a decade after they filmed there.
"I'll never forget that feeling of coming to Hobbiton for the first time, so much time spent in this universe with these characters, and I keep referencing the fact that I turned 19 when I came to Hobbiton for the first time 11 years ago. I'm 30 now," says Elijah.
Frodo helps to bookend the new, two-part Lord of the Rings prequel by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the veteran Rings actor was clearly emotionally struck by his nostalgic return after so many years.
Jackson adds, "It's weird when you come back to a place you literally thought that you'd never see again. To be standing there with Elijah dressed up as Frodo, it was the nearest thing, I think, to going into a time machine."
Another great tidbit revealed in the production blog is that Gollum actor Andy Serkis is not only back playing the demented and disfigured nemesis, but he's also serving as second unit director -- and toking on a Hobbit weed pipe!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey rides into theaters December 14, 2012.