Hey folks, Harry here. Xoanon from TheOneRing.Net sent in the following excerpt of a cool interview with this stunt coordinator bloke on LORD OF THE RINGS. Some interesting stuff is said here.... Enjoy....
Here is some bites from the Lord of the Rings Stunt Team interview from OnFilm magazine. the whole thing is available on my site in The Spy Reports Sections.
Lords of the lance
For a couple of months Fort Dorset, and abandoned Army base built on a finger of land jutting into Wellington's Port Nicholson Harbour, has been ringing tot he sounds of war as a horde of extras and stuntpeople practise Middle Earth battle routines for the epic The Lord of the Rings shoot. Amid the smoke and dust, Onfilm spoke (by telephone!) to their general, Bruce Brown.
What's your role with TLOTR?
I'm the New Zealand stunt coordinator. My company is Stuntworx, which is owned by myself and my partner Elaine Newell. She's a stuntwoman and a pilot for Freedom Air. Elaine works on TLOTR sometimes, when it fits in with her flying.
How did you get the job?
I was stunt coordinator on The Frighteners and Jack Brown Genius with Peter Jackson, and I did Aberration for TLOTR producer Tim Sanders. I guess they were happy with the work I did for them.
When did you get the job?
We've been chatting about it for well over a year - since I knew the project was coming up. I've got 20 people, including two woman, on the job now - most of them have been training for a year, prior to even getting the job, practising different fight sequences and styles, to be ready. They've all relocated to Wellington.
Are there a lot of stunts in TLOTR?
A hell of a lot. Fight sequences, falls,burns, horse stunts, and battles. Of course, these three films are being shot as one, with breaks in between.
There are many character and races involved in the story - each race has a unique, body language.
We're trying to capture something that's not been seen before, and adapting the body language into fighting styles in the leadup to the shoot.
Can you describe some of the stunts?
There's some falls where the guys get shot with arrows off a cliff into rapids, there are guys scaling massive ladders up castle walls and the ladders are being pulled back as the invaders are shot off them by arrows. We pivot the ladders at the bottom, and have the stuntpeople falling onto an airbag.
And then there's stuntmen falling off castle walls into these new crashmats we've come up with. With high falls you normally use a double airbag.
I went to the States and bought a lot of new equipment, including a double bag. It has two fan blowers and a bottom layer that's four feet thick, and above that another layer six feet thick, and it's 30 feet by 25 feet across. It's rated to take up to 80 foot falls.
But the problem witht he airbag is when you fall into air escapes and it collapses, then you have to wait for it to reset. With a normal gym foam crashmat, it's 16 inches or 400mm deep, and it's 1.5m wide by 3m long. But a body only absorbs onto the mat by about a quarter of its depth.
So we designed a foam mat with solid foam on the outside, and it has longitudinal hollow sections running lengthwise and crosswise, vents on the sides and ends of the mats. Two of these - one on top of the other - enables us to do a 40-foot fall into two stuntmats, which means you can be in, roll off the mat, and within a second or two you can have another guy in behind you. It speeds up the process. We can have 10 guys going of the wall at once, and another 10 right behind, rather then one at a time into an airbag.
We've tested these mats up to 40 feet. Anything over that and we'll go back to the airbag. The mats were built to our design in Auckland by the Boat Cover Company.
Tell me more about the fighting styles? Are they recognisable, or did you 'invent' them?
They're styles developed for each particular character. Some are creepy and cockroach-like, some are quite smooth and dainty - flowing gracefully, and some are just crash-bash-nothing-stops-them killing machines.
How do you devise the fight sequences?
We've been very lucky ... the production has brought out a chap called Bob Anderson, who's the world's top swordmaster, An amazing guy - he's 77, and he worked with Errol Flynn. Even now, he moves like Bruce Lee. When he has a sword or weapon in his hand, he makes the hair stand on end. He's English, an Olympic fencer. He's done all the Zorro films and and TV series, he did First Knight and all the Highlanders, and he played Darth Vader in all the early Star Wars films.
He's been taken on as TLOTR swordmaster, to choreograph the weapon and fight sequences. We get on like a house on fire.
There's also plenty of explosions, as well as sfx with Steve Ingram. He's got a massive job ahead of him, the equipment he's building is out of this world. He and his team have built the biggest wind machine you've ever seen, 450 horsepower and a V8 engine. It will blow you over.
The Wizard Saruman creates a primitive form of gunpowder. There is a battle scene where castle walls get blown up.