Follow Along as Peter Jackson Posts Photos and Status Updates on Last Day of Shooting THE HOBBIT [Updated]

     July 25, 2013

the hobbit 3 there back again set photo slice

Today is the last day of filming on The Hobbit series, and director Peter Jackson wants to commemorate this with a treat to fans over on his Facebook page:

“Ever since starting these blogs, there’s been something I thought I’d like to try one day (as well as answering the other 19 questions I owe you!)—blogging throughout a shoot day in real time.”

He has already made eight posts if you count pictures of his cat.  Today they are filming scenes from the third and final movie, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, so this is a very early sneak peek at the December 17, 2014 release.  The next entry, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, opens on December 13, 2013.  Hit the jump for Jackson’s updates from the New Zealand set. [Update: We updated the article with Jackson’s final posts and images.]

As of this posting, it is about 3pm New Zealand time, so check out Peter Jackson’s Facebook to stay up to date.  I also filtered out the picture of his cat, so you’ll have to visit Jackson’s Facebook to see Mr. Smudge.

The introduction:

Ever since starting these blogs, there’s been something I thought I’d like to try one day (as well as answering the other 19 questions I owe you!) – blogging throughout a shoot day in real time. Try to give you all a feeling for what we deal with on an average day.

Today is not exactly “average”, given it’s our last day of shooting, but if I don’t do it today, I never will!

So here goes … I’ll try to update as much as I can during the day. At least with a quick photo. Text will depend a little on how busy it gets.


the hobbit 3 there back again set photo


Right now, it’s just gone 6.30am here in Wellington. I’m in bed, about to get up! I didn’t get much sleep – too stressed about how we’re going to get through everything we need to shoot. I kept running it over in my mind.

We’re shooting scenes for Film 3 today. Stuff you will see in Dec 2014, so I’m going to try and make this honest, but spoiler free.

I’ve been lying here in pitch darkness, watching fight rehearsals over and over again. Our stunt co-ordinatior, Glen Boswell, worked with the actors last weekend, designing some climatic battle moments. He filmed them, and I have them on my iPad, in an application we wrote called “WingNut TV”. It’s a program that allows a huge amount of material to be catalog used and updated each day over the Internet. It contains all our dailies, edited films, previs, music, and much more. I’m looking at the fights, figuring out the angles I’ll need to film them today. A huge amount to do, and it needs to get done.

Our shoot day starts at 8.30am, and is supposed to finish at 7.30pm. I suspect we’ll be working late. Whenever we work a long day, I joke with the crew that I’m just softening them up for when Jim Cameron shows up in Wellington to shoot Avatar 2 and 3. Well … It’s not really a joke.

I’ll try and update often today.


the hobbit 3 there back again set photo


8.20am. Not my favourite time of the day. When I drive to the studio, I usually feel nervous, and the day seems daunting. 100 people are about to look to me to find out what our first shot is, what lens I want to use, and how many set-ups it’s going to take to get the scene finished. Some of the time I have a plan, and some of the time I wing it. It helps to rehearse with the actors, and the ideas (hopefully good ones) start flowing.

It’s always better once we break the ice and start shooting.


the hobbit 3 there back again set photo


Setting up our first shot.

9.15am. Should be shooting soon. Two cameras, both with 16 mm lenses. Two huge wide shots of a fight happening on an enormous set that filling most of K Stage. This is going to be hard, posting pics without spoilers. I’ll do my best! We have video diary cameras here, so you will eventually see what we’re doing today in detail – but not until the Film 3 extended cut, which I guess will be towards the end of 2015!

We have a splinter unit also filming today, directed by Christian Rivers.

The day has a messy start, because the first couple of hours are going to be spent shooting stuff we were supposed to have finished yesterday. But because of the sheer complexity of the choreography, we worked late, and still didn’t finish. …
The photo: yes, we did actually just film this. Please don’t ask me to explain!


the hobbit 3 there back again set photo


10.30am. Had to race to A Stage to try and explain to Graham and Christian why they were shooting their Dwalin fight against green screen, and not our beautiful expensive set as planned. Graham started sharpening his axe, so I just told them to read my last Facebook posting and I fled.

We’ve shot 3 shots on K Stage so far this morning. 2 more to go, and we’re shifting to F Stage.

Hopefully before the lunch break! Could be a long night …


the hobbit 3 there back again set photo


Midday. We’re shifting from K Stage to F Stage right now, and I took the chance to spot music with Howard Shore. He’s in New York, and busy writing the score for Film 2.

“Spotting” involves talking through edited scenes with Howard, and figuring out everything he needs to do a first pass at the music composition – where music should start and stop, what mood it should have, themes to use, moments to punctuate. That type of thing. To stay on schedule, Howard needs 10 mins of cut footage every week. This week we only have 3 & a half mins for him. Fortunately, he’s very good natured about it. It’s happened once or twice before!

Next week, when I’m back in the cutting room full time, Howard will be getting a deluge!


the hobbit 3 there back again set photo 6


Big Richard, Medium Richard and Little Richard.

2.00pm. Just breaking for lunch, with the first shot on F Stage complete. A daunting number to go. I don’t want to think about it, but it’s probably 7 or 8 set-ups. Splinter Unit have made the move to K Stage and will start shooting after lunch.

I asked the various Thorins to pose just before they headed off to lunch. One of these is Richard Armitage, and two of them are not. It’s your guess … The one in the middle is a little psycho.




With Andy Serkis busy being a monkey at the moment, the directing duties for our action unit have fallen on Christian [River’s] shoulders.

Christian’s now got Dwalin on K Stage and the battle continues on a real set. He’s got about the same number of shots as us to get finished today.

We’re battling on, shooting Thorin in a climatic duel for the third movie. Finishing the entire shoot with the end of his story. Fitting I guess. It’s obviously not the very end of the movie itself. That scene was actually shot about 2 years ago. But it’s tough emotional stuff to punch on with into the night. Keeps us on our toes until the bitter end!

4.30pm … the day is still young.




Goodbye Dwalin! The very lovely Graham McTavish just competed his last shot with honours.

Main Unit and Splinter are running neck and neck. Each with 4 shots left. It’s going to be another 3 hours or so. Which ever unit finishes first gets to drink all the beer.

7.30pm … Boxing on …




One Hot Director with Two Not Quite So Hot Dwarves.

Aidan and Dean nail their first shot today. They’ve been waiting patiently since lunchtime. 3 more to go for Splinter.

8.15pm. Lining up third to last Main Unit shot.




The tent.

Two more shots … maybe an hour to go. This is home. The tent is where I have spent more time in the last two and a half years than anywhere else. I share it with Victoria, our script supervisor, Jabez our editor, Seb, my assistant and Caro, our producer.

Victoria watches everything we shoot like a hawk, and has to make a massive amount of notes, so any shot we shoot, or comment I make can be easily accessed in years to come. Plus she doesn’t let silly mistakes slip by.

Jabez and I try to edit previously shot scenes while I’m filming. I do find that hard, when there’s so much to think about during the day. But we do try and make selects of favourite takes, so we have a head start in the cutting room.

Seb has perfected the art of slipping me a cup of hot tea whenever I hold my hand out. It’s a finely tuned 6th sense. The tea’s always there … on set … in meetings … on mountainsides … in the bedroom at 3 in the morning.

Caro keeps everything running on time, and is the person I turn to first for just about everything. A huge support. We’ve worked together since Heavenly Creatures. Both Caro and Victoria are Aussies – but apart from that, they’re nearly perfect.




Just shot this close up of Richard. Look for it in Dec 2014!

2 more shots to go. Main Unit shooting Thorin, Splinter Unit shooting Fili and Kili.

9.21pm. Getting very near the end …



The last shot.

Big monitors, main unit. Small screens bottom right, splinter.

We’re neck and neck … Shooting our final shots at the same time.

10.32 pm. 4 or 5 takes so far.

No, wait … Done! While I was typing this, we shot more takes and finished! Richard was fantastic. Splinter almost done. Minutes away.

Smiles and happiness… And sadness. Yikes, very sad.




1.08 am.

A 20 hour day … 15 years of Tolkien … 771 days of shooting …

… And we arrive home exhausted, to a house full of teenagers! It’s going to be a long night!

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