Welcome to The Hunt For Gollum's Interviews page, where you can view our exclusive interviews with some of the cast and crew from The Hunt For Gollum. We would like to thank The Hunt For Gollum team for collaborating with us and providing The White Tree community with some juicy info!


Julianne Honey-Mennal (Co-Producer)

Our first of several interviews begins with Julianne Honey-Mennal, one of the Co-Producers for The Hunt For Gollum. In addition to being Co-Producer (for wardrobe), Julianne is also acting as Script Advisor on the project. In this interview, she reveals some insight on the film's production and her own experience(s) in the project.


TWT: Firstly, how big a LoTR fan are you? Have you read the books? Seen the films?

Julianne: I'm a HUGE fan! I was totally blown away by the films, and I wanted to be in that world so much that it actually hurt. I dreaded watching the extended edition of RoTK because then I knew there was no more to come. I went to quite a few Rings fan cons, including Toronto, and discovered that I wasn't a 'dress up' kind of fan, I wanted to be in there making it happen, I couldn't shake the belief that I should have been there making the films - and at the time I wasn't even in film production. One of the highlights of the fan cons was meeting the actors, like Craig Parker (Haldir). He actually vaulted over the signing desk to give me a hug once. Love that guy! The other rings actor that I have very fond memories of is John Noble (Denethor), I had a lovely chilled-out chat with him at one con, and never forgot it. He encouraged me to approach Alan Lee and ask for an illustration in my beautiful hardback 'non reading' copy of the book, which Alan did without demur (I have the 3 separate paperbacks for actual reading) I now have a beautiful elven maiden in the flyleaf of the book he illustrated! Unique and totally priceless. Surprisingly for such a bookworm, it was the films that led me to the book, and of course I was soon totally hooked. Couldn't believe I'd never read them before! I got very sucked into the LoTR world, I loved the wealth of detail. Chris Bouchard (Director of TH4G) is much the same - of the production crew, along with Gareth Brough (Goblok) we are the 'book nerds'. I'm very lucky in that I've been able to help Chris shape the story of TH4G, and have written in new scenes and reworked most of the dialogue. I wouldn't have been able have such input unless I knew the book very well, so I feel privileged to have had that extra creative input on the project. I have a weakness for the elves, if you see elves then I put them there! My elvish is rubbish though.

Actually, it's been a while, I think it's time I read the books again, they're calling me....


TWT: Is the film's musical score entirely original? How much inspiration did you take from Howard Shore?

Julianne: Oh the music! We are so blessed with the talent we have on board. Chris Bouchard is a composer of note himself. Some of you may be aware that he scored the seminal Stars Wars fan film ' Revelations'. He hasn't got time to do music as well as get the film through post, so he's got a wonderful composer called Adam Langston to score the film, and yes it will be all entirely original. I heard the initial music ideas for the Arwen/Strider scene last week, and it actually made me cry. When I wrote the scene I originally wanted Arwen to be singing in elvish in the background. I'd found a piece of prose in sindarin, translated by Dider Willis, and built the whole scene around that prose fragment. However, when I saw how beautifully it's come together just with Lewis's clever editing and Adam's music, I realised we'd be gilding the lilly by adding singing. I'm hoping we'll have time to get our multi-talented vocalist, Lisa Welling, into the studio and see what they can do together, the idea being we can then run it over the end credit sequence. Poor Adam is so snowed with work that we've shelved it until the rest of the music has been written and locked.

From everything that I've heard so far, you'd be hard put to distinguish that this is original music and not from Howard Shore's score. Not surprisingly he's been a huge influence and inspiration. We all love the music of LoTR, and because what we're doing with Gollum is a tribute to the films as much as the book, we feel pretty comfortable staying close to the look, feel and sound of the films. Peter Jackson has totally defined for all time how Middle Earth looks and sounds - we feel that to stray too far from that will jolt people out of the film.


TWT: Will the film's tone/atmosphere be dark, rather than light-hearted?

Julianne: I would say it's quite dark. There are some light hearted moments along the way, but the subject matter is foreboding, and the sense of impending struggle with darkness is very apparent. We want people to be on the edge of their seat, rooting for Strider every step of the way. For me, having watched the rough cut, it's more about Strider than Gollum. The central conflict is actually within him, the time is coming for him to have to step up and accept his destiny, and that's something he struggles with. The original story concept was very much about him chasing Gollum about, but over time that's matured to reflect Strider's inner conflict, and we are adjusting the film in the edit to reflect that.


TWT: How difficult has it been bringing Gollum to life? Was there a lot of pressure from within the crew to do the character justice?

Julianne: Gollum has been tricky, but Chris always had a vision, and knew exactly how he was going make Gollum manifest. It's been part of the learning curve for the art depts in learning to trust Chris's vision. Half the time we have no idea what he's doing when he shoots, it makes no sense to us, but he knows exactly what he's doing. He has this incredible 4-D vision on set, he knows exactly where the cameras are and what they're getting. To my mind Chris is one of the finest technical directors around. With the Gollum character especially, once he's cut it all together and done some VFX magic things suddenly look incredible and then I feel really rotten having given him a hard time on set! It's like "oh yeah, NOW I get it" lol. Luke McNally, head of the prosthetics team really wanted to to sculpt a new Gollum head, and was unhappy when we had to work with what we had, but there just wasn't any more money for the materials needed. I think when Luke sees the film he's going to be happy with Gollum. Our budget was so tiny that all departments had to get very creative indeed to make things look good on screen. We've shot the whole thing on around £3,000, which when I look back seems incredible. I was responsible for costume, and we had to do a lot of begging and borrowing (no stealing though!) to get enough materials together to make the costumes. Fortunately Gollum himself didn't have much in the way of costume requirements. I just had to fashion a loin cloth type affair that we called 'the stunt pants' that I made out of rags and pinned onto the actors undies! He was very trusting of me with those safety pins, lol. I remember that day we were on Chris's roof in Ladbrook Grove (praying it wasn't going to rain), working with the very talented Chris Dingli as Gollum. We were shooting against a green screen and we realised gollum looked too clean. Mud was a bit elusive in Ladbrook Grove, so we covered Chris in melted chocolate instead! We were so lucky to find Chris Dingli, he's an amazingly physical actor, and he really got into Gollum's head. Whenever you see Gollum move around in the film, you're seeing Chris's performance. We would have loved to have had access to Andy Serkis's motion capture suit, but we reckon our Gollum is pretty darn close, even without it.


TWT: Will Gollum have lines in the film? If so, how difficult was it to find the right voice for Gollum?

Julianne: Gollum does have lines, and he's quite the wit sometimes. The voice was one of the first things we had sorted. Gareth Brough, when he's not on gaffer duties or being the chief scary orc Goblok, does Gollum's voice, and does it very well. He found it useful to crawl inside a duvet to get into 'Gollum space'. Chris just taped a few sessions of Gareth just being Gollum, no lines or anything, he just went into the character. A lot of that is being used in the film, and it was totally unrehearsed.


TWT: How much inspiration did you take from Peter Jackson's films, or is it entirely driven by the books?

Julianne: It's both. For myself, Gareth and Chris the books do have an influence, but in the main I would say that for the majority of the crew it's the films that excite them and made them want to be part of the project. I don't think anyone outside the rings fan communities understand what a profound influence those films had over ordinary people. My life has changed completely because of them. It doesn't mean I want to wear elf ears all time and wander round pretending to be Arwen, but it does mean that my drive to create fantastical worlds that suck people in and not let go has kicked into a higher gear, and here we are, doing it.


TWT: What are the constraints of the film being just half an hour long? Did you ever consider making it longer?

Julianne: It keeps getting longer all by itself! The original script was supposed to run for 15 minutes, however the last cut was 50 minutes long - and it's too long. You have to keep the story to a length that will support the narrative. The last thing we want is people getting bored before they get to the end because we've spun the story out too long. At this stage you have to cut out things you really like, but it's a necessary evil. In my opinion I see a lot of sloppy editing in Hollywood films. First rule - if it doesn't progress the story or it belabours the point then it has to go. I'm kind of hot on that. I'm not sure of our current running time, but I suspect we're pitching for about 40 minutes.


TWT: What were you looking for when casting Aragorn? Did you take any inspiration from Viggo Mortensen's interpretation?

Julianne: Strider was already cast by Chris when I came onto the project. Adrian Webster (Strider) had already worked with Chris on his previous project 'Human Residue', so they knew they worked well together, and I don't think Chris ever thought of anybody else when he started on the script. Chris has taken inspiration for Strider's character from the book rather than from the film. In the book Strider is much grimmer than Viggo's Aragorn. From discussions I've had with Adrian, he deliberately hasn't watched the films since he was cast. He didn't want to just ape Viggo's performance, he wanted to bring something new to the character on screen. Playing Strider and following in Viggo's footsteps is a pretty big ask for anyone, but we're really happy with what Adrian has brought to the project. His Strider is very intense, and you can see everything going on behind those incredible blue eyes of his. It's funny, once the wig went on and the face got muddied up you could hear this sigh from the female crew members. Most of them were in love with him as soon as he became Strider. Bless him, he was totally oblivious to the effect he was having, lol.


TWT: Can we expect any other Tolkien-inspired films in the future? Does it depend on The Hunt For Gollum's reception?

Julianne: No, TH4G is it for us. We've loved it, every bone weary, muddy minute, but it's time to put it on the screen for the fans to enjoy and to move onto other things. We'll miss it like crazy and we're family now, but a project like this requires 110% effort and takes over your life. Together with Chris, all four Producers have been working on this for nearly a year and a half, and I can't tell you how much time and effort has gone into it from each and every one of us. We also can't afford to do it any more! We made a decision right at the beginning not to take expenses so that every penny of the budget would end up on screen. That adds up to rather a lot for each of us, especially for those of us in the arts dept who contributed fabrics and lord knows what else. Our wonderful crew have done the same, which is unprecedented in indie film making. We can't ask anymore of them. 'Born Of Hope', our sister production is still shooting, so there will be more to come after Gollum, and of course we have The Hobbit to look forward to.


TWT: Well, that just about covers everything we wanted to know! Is there anything else you want to say about the film?

Julianne: We're very proud of it, and we hope you love it as much as we do. It's made for fans by fans, and if we inspire anyone to pick up a camera and have a go themselves then I would be very happy to hear that.

Look out for the new website launch very soon, and also trailer 3 - which is going to blow your collective socks off. I just can't wait to hear people's reactions to that one! I actually squealed like a little girl when I saw what Lewis was putting together for that trailer. We're also taking orcs out into London in early April for a photoshoot, and after that the PR machine will be cranking up in earnest. We want EVERYONE to know about Gollum. So if you have any press contacts and think you can help us out we'd love to hear from you.

Some of the actors and producers will be at Eastercon, and of course we have our big launch at Sci Fi London in May. Please, please come along and support us if you can (and you'll have a lovely day out whilst you're at it). Thank you so much for your interest, we really appreciate the support we are receiving from fan communities. It makes it all worthwhile :)


Well, there you have it! We'd like to thank Julianne for her participation, and The White Tree community for submitting those wonderful questions.

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