Sunday, May 3, 2009

About that Hunt for Career Advancement--er, Gollum...

Concerning the on-line film, The Hunt for Gollum, a reader sends an interesting link with the following:

Here's something you might want to link.

That Lord of the Rings prequel just debuted online Sunday called "The Hunt for Gollum." But one blogger has discovered clues suggesting it's professional film-makers masquerading as amateurs...

Rather than being true-believer fans, Diehl argues that "It's pretty clear that crafting a traditional, if low-budget, piece of cinema was the driving factor in making this film."

The director's previous movie? A conventional zombie movie called "Human Residue."

The blogger that the reader links to does bring up a viable point; one that was obvious at the outset: what if these guys really aren't LOTR/Tolkien fans and are just ambitious wannabe filmmakers trying to ride Peter Jackson's coattails to some kind of recognition - and are thus rather insulting Tolkien fans, not to mention Tolkien and his work?

It's truly possible. Of course, judging if they really, truly are Tolkien fans is something of a sketchy thing. Jeff Diehl, the writer of the article linked above, says this:

It's pretty clear that crafting a traditional, if low-budget, piece of cinema was the driving factor in making this film. This is supported by the fact that Bouchard's been occupying his time in recent years making independent, low-budget zombie movies, not learning Elvish or arguing online about whether Tolkien was a racist.

First, there is nothing wrong - there is no contradiction - with striving to craft a well-made, traditional film and at the same time crafting it "as fans for fans". And, again, discerning whether someone is a true fan? What's the standard? You mean they don't know how to speak Elvish?! Harrumph!

It is entirely possible for the filmmakers to be inspired by Tolkien's work and doing it as "a labour of love" and out of love for Tolkien's work and for likeminded fans, and at the same time have both craftsmanship and a certain ambition for "career advancement" in the mix.

But I think such an ideal balance unlikely. I fear the latter in this case outweighs the rest, and that Jeff Diehl's speculations may be justified. You can bet that after The Passion of the Christ announced its box office earnings there were executives in studios throughout Hollywood looking to make deals on The Religion that Sells. So it goes for others.

To say these guys have no motive for career advancement would be naïve. To say these guys have no other motive but career advancement would perhaps be a cynical and rash judgment. But if career advancement is outweighing the rest, to the point that it is indeed the driving force, then it would be rather despicable - for in such a case they would truly be exploiting true fans. To question whether they are true fans or not is not to witch hunt; because, well, the filmmakers are totally billing this thing as "fans for fans". And the world of Tolkien fans...that's a pretty large base in which word gets around like the speed of light. You better make damn sure you're not exploiting that.

I haven't yet watched the film, but am going to watch it tonight. Perhaps the actual meat of the film will let us know what the case is. But if the film is quite good and yet the motives of the makers were exploitative? Well, I don't know.

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