The Lord of the Rings fan movie The Hunt For Gollum has now been seen by over 4 million people from all over the world. While it was only made on a very tiny budget of GBP 3000 and freely distributed through the internet it has proven to be an enormous hit. The 40 minute film, directed by the unknown Chris Bouchard, depects events leading up to the Peter Jackson trilogy, giving the Middle-earth fans some fresh material while waiting for The Hobbit movies. Although not officially approved by Tolkien Enterprises, Tolkien Estate, or New Line Cinema, the filmmakers reached an agreement which allowed them to release it free to the Internet in a non-commercial manner.
That many movie fans were waiting for 'more Lord of the Rings' was shown when in the first 24 hours of the release of the movie the website couldn't cope with the overwhelming traffic and was unavailable for some time. Over a million saw it in the first week, making it the 4th most watched film in America according to a K-State web expert, beaten only by blockbusters Star Trek & X-Men Origins.
Viewers have said the high quality visual effects, solid acting, camera and spectacular choreographed fight sequences make for a film that pleases fans of books and films alike. Having been marketed purely through word of mouth, it became one of the most viral videos on the net and has now been seen by over 4 million people.
It has also won several awards, and been selected for festivals all over the world, winning "Best Fiction produced for the web" at Festival Cinema Tous Ecrans in Geneva.
To achieve a film that looks high-budget on the budget of £3000, producers used digital cameras and "broke every rule in the book" to faithfully recreate Middle-earth in England & Wales with more than 100 filmmakers working unpaid. "It was just for the love of it, we are passionate about film making even if it takes us years" Bouchard says. It took 2 years to complete.
As opposed to most fan films, this one really seems to have satisfied it's target audience. With a score of 7.2/10 on IMDB and favourable reviews on social networking sites, the filmmakers appear to have crafted a very unusual amateur film that has satisfied the hardest to please fans, including several Tolkien societies. While the unknown filmmakers from the UK haven't made a penny off the production, "it's a non-profit film, as it's something we've made because of our love of tolkien's work, and as a homage to Peter Jackson".
Several of the crew have now been picked up by professional films and BBC productions. And yet others are working on another Rings prequel due this December 1st called Born of Hope. Director Chris Bouchard has since had offers of funding for his next project. He says "Gollum has presented the opportunity for unknown filmmakers to tap into a huge audience, and gain credibility in a tough industry. Plus we think it's time to shake things up a little, the film industry needs new blood."
For those looking forward to Born of Hope, here is the latest trailer:
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