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Lord of the Rings Media Movies Entertainment

LoTR Fan Film — The Hunt For Gollum 157

Posted by timothy
from the is-gollum-even-in-season? dept.
stevedcc writes "This weekend sees the release of The Hunt for Gollum, a Lord of the Rings fan-film. It'll be available on the web for free. The BBC are running an article about the making of the film, with a budget of £3,000 (spent mostly on costumes and make-up). There were 160 contributors involved, many over the internet." I hope it lives up to the trailer (linked from the BBC story); the finished film is approximately 40 minutes. memoryhole supplies links to YouTube for both the full trailer and a second trailer. Reader jowifi adds a link to NPR's story on the film, writing, "NPR discussed the legality of this type of creation with EFF lawyer Fred Von Lohman, who said it's not clear if such a production violates the copyright for Tolkien's work."
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LoTR Fan Film — The Hunt For Gollum

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  • Skeptical (Score:4, Interesting)

    by heyitsjon (1544855) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:02PM (#27781329)
    I'm a bit skeptical of the movie. I guess the reason I loved the movie series was the basis on the books (given it wasn't 100% accurately followed). With no great input from J.R.R., it will be interesting to see what direction this goes in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stonedcat (80201)

      The cool thing about fan films and fan series is that you don't have to like them or even watch them if you don't wish.

      • Re:Skeptical (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:37PM (#27781589)

        The cool thing about fan films and fan series is that you don't have to like them or even watch them if you don't wish.

        As opposed to big budget Hollywood films where you better watch 'em, and you better like 'em, or else some guy comes for your knee caps?

        • by Bigby (659157)

          I guarantee that if people stop going to the theaters and buying the movies, that the movie industry will lobby the government and be bailed out because it is "an important part of America". They may as well come for my knee caps...

        • by Stevecrox (962208)
          Ahh, You've heard of the MPAA then?
        • by D Ninja (825055)

          Dude. Totally. I snorted at the end of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and some big gorilla of a man came in and slammed his fist into my nose.

          Of course, I now think Crystal Skull was pure genius and I totally believe the flying refrigerator scene. Totally.

    • Re:Skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ushering05401 (1086795) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:22PM (#27781489) Journal

      I'm a bit skeptical of the movie. I guess the reason I loved the movie series was the basis on the books (given it wasn't 100% accurately followed). With no great input from J.R.R., it will be interesting to see what direction this goes in.

      Do you realize the Peter Jackson movies were made without input from JRR, as he has been dead for some time?

      Hopefully the fan films will be made by people who have actually read the books they are translating to film.

      I read the trilogy + pretty much everything released by Tolkien's estate through the years. I am still trying to figure out what books the Peter Jackson movies were based on.

      • Re:Skeptical (Score:4, Informative)

        by emarkp (67813) <slashdot.roadq@com> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:39PM (#27781609) Journal

        And thus you expose your ignorance. /sarcasm

        The Lord of the Rings was not a trilogy. That is all.

        (Oh, and I don't have any trouble seeing what Jackson's films were based on. Perhaps you need glasses?)

      • Re:Skeptical (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bobb9000 (796960) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:48PM (#27781681)
        Well, I think the GP meant that the story of the Lord of the Rings is pretty well delineated in canon, so Jackson knew pretty well what the story was, even if he elected to change some things.

        This movie is based on a few lines in the appendix of LOTR that discuss Gandalf and Aragorn pursuing Gollum between the events of The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring. That's much less to go on than a whole narrative hundreds of pages long.

        Doesn't mean it's going to be bad, just means that they don't have as much canon to work with.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RobertM1968 (951074)

          Very true...

          I've actually been waiting for this to come out for quite some time - one of my friends did a bunch of the promotional stuff for them - the amazingly talented Jeff Hayes [plasmafiregraphics.com] (check his "One Sheet Design" pages), whom I work with on Star Trek New Voyages [startreknewvoyages.com]. Hope this episode is as well done as his promotional graphics for it.

        • Re:Skeptical (Score:5, Informative)

          by Repton (60818) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @09:44PM (#27782589) Homepage

          There's more detail on the hunt for gollum in Unfinished Tales [wikipedia.org]. Still not a lot, to be honest.

          The most interesting thing is the explanation of how Gollum escapes from Thranduil. Basically, Sauron had been unable to completely break Gollum - perhaps because of Gollum's hobbit heritage. So Sauron had let Gollum go, in the hope that Gollum would find his way to the Shire or Baggins - both names Sauron had got out of him, but both things Gollum didn't know the location of. So Sauron let Gollum go, but kept an eye on him.

          Then Aragorn captured Gollum, just outside Mordor. Now, Sauron knew (from Gollum) that the One had been found, but he did not realise anyone else knew this. So he was now worried that Gollum's new captors would discover this information, and thus Sauron would lose an advantage. Hence he arranged for an orc-raid to capture or kill Gollum. However, Gollum escaped. There were also Nazgul in the area, searching for the Shire in the guise of black riders, so in terror of the orcs and the black riders, Gollum hid in Moria./p.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The reason the differences from the Jackson films vs the books don't bother me, is that these are tales from a legendarium as Tolkien called it. To be told and retold, as legends are. He retold many of the stories in various formats, and with variations in the stories. So for me the movies are just a variation on the war of the ring legend, and for the most part damn good.
      • by nuttycom (1016165)

        That's an excellent observation; I hadn't made the connection before but adapting the stories to the medium is particularly *appropriate* to Tolkien's work.

    • by c0p0n (770852)

      Judging by the trailers, the production is of remarkable quality, especially for a fan film.

  • Think about all the things that made the trilogy great: soundtrack, acting, special effects, etc... I for one, loved the soundtrack. Just a small aspect that added to the movie, but made it great.
  • Release date (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:07PM (#27781377) Homepage Journal

    Release date is May 3 2009 at 16:00 GMT.

  • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:16PM (#27781457)

    We got in touch with Tolkien Enterprises and reached an understanding with them that as long as we are completely non-profit then we're okay. We have to be careful not to disrespect their ownership of the intellectual property. They are supportive of the way fans wish to express their enthusiasm.

    Looks like tim is trolling just a bit.

    Though, in general, LotR should be public domain. It's a definite part of our cultural heritage, and these sort of copyright issues are about as insulting as someone claiming copyright on the Shakespeare Canon.

    • by nausea_malvarma (1544887) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:24PM (#27781507)
      I happen to be the owner of Shakespeare's Cannons Inc. and your infringing on my trademark, you insensitive clod!
      • Sorry about that. I'll just return the ammo I purchased for my Shakespeare Cannon - you're okay with airmail, right? The cannon will follow once I find a giant slingshot to load it in. Hope this clears up our problem!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Though, in general, LotR should be public domain.

      It is not a matter of opinion. Copyright is Life + 70 in the USA. Tolkien passed in 1973. In 2043, his work will enter public domain.

      • by Fred_A (10934)

        Though, in general, LotR should be public domain.

        It is not a matter of opinion. Copyright is Life + 70 in the USA. Tolkien passed in 1973. In 2043, his work will enter public domain.

        Unless some sort of law related to copyright issues happens to pass in the mean time.

        I wouldn't be surprised if copyright became without time limit at some point.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      Though, in general, LotR should be public domain. It's a definite part of our cultural heritage

      It is a part of our cultural heritage only because Tolkien chose to create it and to publish it --- on his own terms.

      • by Boronx (228853)

        He's also been dead for decades.

      • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @08:15PM (#27781903)
        It is a part of our cultural heritage only because Tolkien chose to create it and to publish it --- on his own terms.

        Then again, its position as a major part of our cultural heritage is in quite some part because pirate publishers in the US printed it without Tolkien's permission, following a tradition of American respect for copyrights going back at least to Dickens; the first paperback edition was entirely unauthorised. And cheap.

        As a result it became hugely popular over there in the 1960s - the reason for a generation of hippie children called things like Pippin Galadriel Moonchild, and graffiti all over the place saying FRODO LIVES. Without that it would likely be a much more obscure work to this day.

        • the reason for a generation of hippie children called things like Pippin Galadriel Moonchild

          People have been giving their children weird names all the time; it's quite a Neverending Story.

          Really, someone should put an Ende to it.

    • by Ren.Tamek (898017) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:49PM (#27781695) Homepage

      Indeed. When Tolkein set about writing LotR his specific aim was to write an english folklore of our very own, since what we had was very disjointed compared to the strength of norse and roman myths. I think he would find the idea of one company 'owning' his work to be totally against the central idea behind his work. Myths are there to be told and retold.

      Unfortunately, we can't ask him as he has been dead 36 years now. The idea that anyone might own the sole rights to something written by a man long dead is definitely a strange one to get your head around.

      • by Opyros (1153335) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @08:10PM (#27781863) Journal
        OTOH Tolkien was very protective of his copyrights during his own lifetime; he once complained that he couldn't copyright the name "Shadowfax", to keep it from being used as the name of a hydrofoil! (For anyone who has the published volume of his letters, the relevant one is #258.) And of course, there was his outrage at the Ace pirate edition ("Dealings one might expect of Saruman in his decay rather than from the defenders of the West".) But as you say, it's anyone's guess what he'd think about violation of his copyrights today, now that even "courtesy (at least) to living authors" is no longer at issue.
        • by RPoet (20693)

          OTOH Tolkien was very protective of his copyrights during his own lifetime; he once complained that he couldn't copyright the name "Shadowfax", to keep it from being used as the name of a hydrofoil!

          Instead of complaining, perhaps he should have read a lawbook. To protect a name from being abused, you have to trademark it, not copyright it.

          • -1 pedantic.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Zordak (123132)

            Was he using the name in commerce as a source identifier for goods and services? No? Then it's not a trademark. And even if it was, he couldn't assert it against a boat unless he was selling Shadowfax-branded boats. Trademark doesn't give you "ownership" of a name or word. It gives you the right to prevent others from using it as a confusingly-similar source identifier for goods and/or services.

            Bottom line, there's pretty much nothing Tolkein could do to stop somebody from naming his hydrofoil "Shadowf

        • by DinDaddy (1168147) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:26AM (#27787475)

          Why exactly should he be able to keep it from being used as the name of a hydrofoil?

          "I was going to buy a copy of Lord of the Rings to read, but I got this cool hydrofoil called Shadowfax, so now I don't need to."

          • by Opyros (1153335)
            Apparently he was just annoyed by the fact that the hydrofoil owner hadn't asked his permission first! In another letter, to a lady who asked whether she could name her herd of bulls after Rivendell, he wrote the following:

            I am honoured by your letter, and quite willing that you should use the name of Rivendell as a herd prefix, though in my ignorance I don't think the actual valley of Rivendell would have been suitable for herd breeding. I should be interested to hear what names you eventually choose (as

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by daveime (1253762)

        Wasn't a lot of Tolkein's work very similar to those Norse legends you mentioned ?

        [citation not available, this is Slashdot, heresay will suffice]

      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @08:16PM (#27781911)
        Nasty, nasty fanses! The fanses violates the preciouss.... the preciousss copyrightses!
      • Indeed. When Tolkein set about writing LotR his specific aim was to write an english folklore of our very own, since what we had was very disjointed compared to the strength of norse and roman myths.

        Would have been great if he had actually set some of those myths in England. Or maybe he did, I don't know. From my point of view, they have more of a European flavor than English.

        • by ben0207 (845105) <ben@burton.gmail@com> on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:39AM (#27783897) Homepage

          As a Cornishman, I can definitely say you're wrong there! :)

          At least geographically and culturally, large bits of Middle Earth appear to spring directly from Britain. The Shire, for example, well, it IS the Westcountry.

          • Interesting. I always figured middle earth, at least from the map, was a map of Europe before......well, from a long time ago.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I live in Birmingham(UK) and since tolkien was a local lad it seems that several local places gave the inspirations Eg i think that Moseley marsh inspired fangorn and there are a couple of large chimneys from the industrial revolution around there that were supposedly the origin of the Two Towers. Places were near where he lived for a time.
          Not quite the same, but I am sort of glad we arent over run by Orkses, Urok-Hai and Nazgul here in the sunny (at least for the last 15 minutes) Midlands.

    • by Eil (82413)

      Shakespeare's work is hundreds of years old, Tolkien's is not. I believe that copyright on a particular work should expire upon an author's death (or very shortly thereafter... 7 rather than 70 years) but my beliefs are completely irrelevant. Tolkien's work is still copyrighted under current law.

      Under your logic, it could be argued that pretty much any work with a household name would fall into the public domain (The Simpsons, Harry Potter, Windows XP...)

      • Expiring on an author's death has several problems. One, it creates at least a small bit of incentive to kill off authors. More realistically, it means that if an author writes a successful book and has kids at the same time, if he lives, he can use the money to raise his kids, if he dies, the kids are screwed.

        Me, I'm in favor of short, fixed length copyrights. Maybe 50 or so years. If you write something late in life, you can leave the profit to your kids. If you write something young in life, well, 5

        • by Eil (82413)

          Expiring on an author's death has several problems. One, it creates at least a small bit of incentive to kill off authors.

          I hadn't thought of that. But a relatively short delay would almost completely defuse that. Among the small percentage of the population that are would-be murders, extremely few would be willing to take the risk of being discovered to have killed someone, only so they might stand the remote possibility of profiting off the death 7 years later.

          More realistically, it means that if an autho

          • Let me put it another way. Let's say copyright is "Life + 5 years". If I write a book when I turn 25, given an expected lifespan of 70, I and my heirs get 50 years of profit from the book. If my book is a huge success that continues to sell throughout the years (big if, admittedly), that could pay for my kid's college, even if they're born when I publish the book. Oops, I was hit by a bus and die at 26. My book still does well, but my spouse and kids lose the income 5 years later. Why is my book more

  • Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:26PM (#27781515)

    "NPR discussed the legality of this type of creation with EFF lawyer Fred Von Lohman, who said it's not clear if such a production violates the copyright for Tolkien's work."

    It's as clear as a pane of glass.

    The character is recognizably Tolkien's creation.

    The universe he inhabits. The voices. The dialog. The languages.

    The maps. The character designs.

    The story.

    The film can't honestly be described as anything other than a derivative work.

    • Not so clear. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:48PM (#27781675)

      The character is recognizably Tolkien's creation.
      The universe he inhabits. The voices. The languages.
      ...The character designs.

      The film can't honestly be described as anything other than a derivative work.

      None of those things are covered by copyright, and thus cannot be a derivative work. Some of them could be covered by trademark, but that is an entirely different matter.

      The dialog. The maps. The story.

      These are covered by copyright, but they are not being used (maybe the maps are I don't know). It is a fan-flick: a new story with new dialog based on the characters and word created by Tolkien.

      • Re:Not so clear. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bobb9000 (796960) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:52PM (#27781729)
        Actually, the characters are protected by copyright too. It's pretty clearly a derivative work. The question is whether it's fair use and/or not enforceable. In any case, the filmmakers talked to the Tolkien estate and got permission, so long as the film was non-profit.
        • Re:Not so clear. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Friday May 01, 2009 @04:00AM (#27784547) Journal

          Well that shouldn't be too hard. According to New Line Cinema, none of the original movies made a profit either.

    • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Absolut187 (816431) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @09:16PM (#27782435) Homepage

      ACTUALLY...

      It is true that fictional characters, places, etc. are protected by copyright.
      http://www.publaw.com/fiction.html [publaw.com]

      HOWEVER,

      Many foreign works briefly fell into the public domain here in the US.

      Congress attempted to "correct" that problem by putting all those works *back* under copyright with a law in 1994.

      A federal court of appeal recently ruled that this law violated the first amendment.
      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/04/court-congress-cant-put-public-domain-back-into-copyright.ars [arstechnica.com]

      The Lord of The Rings is one of those foreign works (Tolkien is English).

      So.... yeah. Not so clear, actually.

      LOTR may be public domain, in which case these fan-fiction authors could tell everyone to *screw* and proceed to make all the profit they want.

      I'm assuming that the first amendment case will go to the SCOTUS..

      • by Garwulf (708651)

        Um...that certainly may be true, but American copyright law ends at the American border. From the looks of this, it is a British production on British soil. So, in fact, I'd say it is cut and dried - it is in copyright.

  • It is clear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MojoRilla (591502) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @07:43PM (#27781647)
    That the technology revolution has almost overtaken feature films. The trailer looks almost as good as the real thing. Pretty soon it will be hard to tell fan fiction from the real thing. Hell, some of the fan fiction might end up being better than the real thing.

    Than won't Hollywood and the RIAA be in a bind.
    • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @08:44PM (#27782171) Homepage Journal

      If YouTube is any indication, Hollywood will be safe for years to come.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by biovoid (785377)
        And if "Dude, Where's My Car?" is any indication, Hollywood is screwed.
        • Re:It is clear (Score:4, Interesting)

          by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:46AM (#27783641)

          And if "Dude, Where's My Car?" is any indication, Hollywood is screwed.

          That is actually why Hollywood is screwed. Their idea of how to make films to fill in all the gaps involve the like of "Dude, Where's My Car." The thing is - a reasonably talented YouTube hack could probably do something just as good - even better. For less. And get the full rewards. With no Studio cut.

          • by IICV (652597)
            Consider Validation [youtube.com], a short film on Youtube that, in my opinion, is far more valuable than Dude Where's My Car could ever be. Sure, it's a single gem in a sea of junk - but then there's groups willing to sift through that junk to find the gems.
          • by nametaken (610866)

            This is kindof like that no-aliens argument. The question remains, where Dude Where's My Car should be completely doable for YouTubers, why don't we see lots of those?

            • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

              The question remains, where Dude Where's My Car should be completely doable for YouTubers, why don't we see lots of those?

              I can't say with authority as I'm not in to that scene / business. But I would imagine that, first and foremost, even "trivial" content isn't trivial to make. So motivation is still a requirement. In addition, I suspect we're just now sort of getting to that point where people are realizing these things can be done. Slowly we're seeing people work it all out; The Guild, Dr. Horrible, Smosh, Fred. These are the forerunners to anything that might take a bite out of Hollywood's bottom rungs.

    • by pembo13 (770295)

      Than won't Hollywood and the RIAA be in a bind.

      That will be when they unleash the Nazgul upon the world of men.

    • by Eil (82413)

      Than won't Hollywood and the RIAA be in a bind.

      No, not really. It takes a lot more than computers and good cameras to make even a mediocre film.

      Conversely, there have always been good films that never had a Hollywood or MPAA logo on them.

    • Writing (like, textual writing) technology is the same for fan fiction as for professional writing. Yet it's still not hard to tell fan fiction from the real thing.
      • by bsDaemon (87307)

        Yes, but most holywood scripts are so poorly written in the firt place that the only real difference is the technical aspects -- camera work, sound, etc. That and the fact that you're probably not going to get the Royal Shakespeare Company either way.

        • Have you ever read fan fiction? Calling most of it "bad" does a disservice to the world by diluting the term. Non-professional writers are SHOCKINGLY bad at it; I know Hollywood writing isn't good, but it's not on the same level of terrible as fan fiction in general.
          • by DinDaddy (1168147)

            You forgot the "most" in your second sentence.

            • by DinDaddy (1168147)

              er third sentence.

            • As a group, they are shockingly bad (compared professional writers as a group), and the corpus of fan fiction is terrible compared to the corpus of professional writings. "Most" is implied when talking about general characteristics of a group; only the ignorant (and the faux-ignorant, like you) try to apply a generalization to all the individual members of the generalized group.

              It's like if I said the middle class is significantly less wealthy than the upper class. Same objection applies, as there are me
  • by sootman (158191) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @08:38PM (#27782121) Homepage Journal

    ... if they hire Lindsay Lohan. [wwtdd.com]

  • Hope its better than the last LOTR fan flick [youtube.com]...

  • The trailer looks good.

  • by AP31R0N (723649)

    Unless you're abbreviating Lord of Transforming Rings, it should be LotR. If you're going to show prepositions as lower case, you should do the same for articles.

  • Somehow I don't think Tolkien minds derivative works or even blatent "infringement" of his copyrights at this point - copyrights which ought to have expired long ago, incidentally. That is, "expired long ago" as in decades ago.

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (pronounced /ËtÉ'lkiËn/[1]) (3 January 1892 â" 2 September 1973)

  • It always bothers me when they come up with these arbitrarily low estimates for how much was spent on these productions. 3000 pounds? I can only assume they didn't actually have to pay anyone's salary.

    It's nice when people are willing to work for free for the sake of the project, whether it be because they're passionate about it or they believe that they can move onto something greater because of it. But the reality is that most people need to earn a living and you can't get away with this sort of thing too

    • Yeah, I agree. You can bet they're using equipment (cameras, microphones, etc.) from film schools too. It would be interesting to see how much this would have cost if they'd paid wages and bought or rented their equipment.

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