As every self-respecting geek knows, there's a lot going on in Middle Earth right now. Yes, Peter Jackson is busy filming The Hobbit and issuing regular updates via his production diaries.
As I've often written about Hollywood, the geeks won't be denied, so it's better to bring them in and give them just enough to keep them satisfied, rather than shutting them out completely.
Anticipation on a lot of films, like say The Dark Knight, is palpable, but a little bit here and there surely won't hurt, and if the studios treat the fans right, they'll be behind the movie because they're a powerful ally to have. Unfortunately, Hollywood tends to forget this very important fact from time to time.
In one of the latest production diaries, Jackson talks about converting 2D to 3D, and being a geek turned pro himself, Jackson thankfully hasn't forgotten what it is to be a fan.
Years ago, I spoke to Michael Pellerin, who directs Peter Jackson's production diaries, and as he told me when he was working on King Kong, there really wasn’t any formal plan to create video entries.
"It wasn't like we sat and went, 'Well, we're gonna have this thing and we're gonna have 90 production diaries and there gonna blah, blah, blah.' The truth is one day Peter just went, 'Hey, let's throw something up on the Internet.' We were collecting behind the scenes footage, and out of the blue, he just decided, 'Why don't we just throw something up?'
"Then a couple of days later thinking we should make this a little more sophisticated, we should start editing these things, let's keep it going. It evolved. The truth is it really was a grass roots movement, it was just a little experiment and then it just exploded into becoming this full-fledged diary thing. We were figuring it out as we went along, and it was truly a diary in that we didn't know what was coming next."
According to Pellerin, Pete is typically very hands-on with everything related to the diaries.
"Literally, he would help us come up with ideas, he would shoot all the intros for them, he would review all of them, he'd give notes, all this while he's making a movie at the same time! He would be shooting an intro or reviewing a cut in the middle of doing takes for the film."
As for whether it's important to keep in touch with the fans, Pellerin said, "Peter's very active on the Internet and he's the guy who actually goes to all those movie sites too, not just because he's a director and wants to see what other people are doing, but because he's a fan. And Peter and his fans reciprocate with each other. He's a fan too and he gives them the kinda stuff that he wants to see. In terms of it being important.
"I know he strongly feels that the Internet and DVDs are an excellent opportunity for a filmmaker, that as a person whose out there telling stories with film, it's an excellent chance for them to have a one-on-one dialogue with the public and with the fan base. It's this whole other medium where a filmmaker can actually converse and have a relationship with their audience.
"Now for some filmmakers it's fine to think, 'Well, look, let the films stand alone, you don't need any relationship with the audience,' meaning just show the movie and that's all the audience needs to know. And that's perfectly fine too, but Peter's just not that kind of filmmaker. He's not the kind of guy that doesn't want to share. He actually does want to share the experience with people. He wants to invite them in, he wants their feedback."