Ron Newcomb is such a fan of The Lord of the Rings that he made a movie about one's worship of the series. Out December 4 courtesy of Phase 4 Films, Rise of the Fellowship fixates on a group of online gamers who take their fandom to the extreme. Newcomb was gracious enough to talk to TMT as the release approaches.
On a scale of one to Elrond, just how big of a Lord of the Rings fan are you?
I'd say I'm Gandalf big... to give you some examples here. I have seen every bit of footage Sir Peter Jackson has put out. I'm talking all of the extended versions, of course, plus every bit of behind the scenes stuff which is basically like film school 101. Many of them more than once.
Before The Hobbit, I watched all three Lord of the Rings films (Extended Editions) back to back to get ready. I went and saw some movie (which I cannot even remember what it was) just because I heard there was The Hobbit trailer playing prior which was worth every penny I spent.
And for the ultimate geek out, back in 2007 I convinced six of my friends we needed to head off to New Zealand where I ended up getting an Elvish script tattoo on my right arm. So I'd say I'm an uber geek.
Was it the idea of making a movie that served as a love letter to online gaming that initially appealed to you, or was it doing something that served as an ode to the 'Rings' franchise?
Definitely to the Rings franchise. MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) has only allowed me to go deeper into Tolkien's world for sure. But it was that original story by Tolkien that captured my imagination. Lord of the Rings Online does a very good job at bringing you into Tolkien’s world and inviting you in on the adventure.
I wanted a film my family could watch and to revisit this adventure in a different way. Through the eyes of Randall Dooley - our Frodo.
What were some of your inspirations here? I can see a little Stand By Me, a little Detroit Rock City, maybe even Fanboys?
Definitely a bit of all of those. It was the movies we grew up with. The ones that captured our imagination and brought us on an adventure. One that was fun and witty. A coming of age story about finding a bit more about yourself... an inner strength or self acceptance or even a bit of romance.
Early on we described our film as "Fanboys for Lord of the Rings." So that is a great catch there and I loved Fanboys. So that would be an honor to be compared to them.
Obviously, if you've not a super big budget to play with, it's hard to get any A-listers to cameo but did you approach any Lord of the Rings cast members to appear at any time?
As an independent film, you are always on the look-out for the golden ticket moment and we definitely went after some of the stars of Lord the Rings. Primarily to do a nice cameo in the film. We got close on more than a few and thought at one point we were going to have Sean Astin which would have been extremely cool. But alas he accepted another project which brought him overseas, and so he had to turn us down.
One of things we knew early on though, was the our fans "A-lister" was really what game we would have in the film, so landing Lord of the Rings Online was huge for us - it felt like getting a major talent.
We did get permission to use Sir Peter Jackson's name in the film which was cool and this led to a "Thank You" in the film which then led us to be connected to him via IMDB!
Do you think the days of geeks being outcasts and somewhat avoided are over? Is it true.. geeks are chic now?
Our theme in Rise of the Fellowship is "There's a little bit of geek and hero in all of us." And this is so true. We are all geekie about something. We are just in an age where we can now at least admit it.
I'm geekie about Lord of the Rings and filmmaking just like many of friends are geeky over Fantasy Football. Being comfortable in our own geekieness is what's attractive.
How long have you been making movies for you? Is this the one that 'could change everything' for you?
My first love was acting. So I've had that love now for over 20 years and did some early cool movie extras stuff, which only hooked me more. But now that we're in the digital age, it allowed me to take my destiny into my own hands and create my own future.
Believe it or not, we started this film, from the time of "Hey let's make a movie!" My business partner and writer Scott Mathias and I have been at this since 2007. so it's been a long journey.
I hope this is a game changer, in the sense it allows me to go play filmmaker again and bring along so many other talented people. Filmmaking is a team sport and to be able to do this the rest of my life would be the ultimate win with some very cool people.
What are the release plans for the film - when can America see it?
We have a release date scheduled for December 3, 2013 and you'll be able to find it on many platforms like Amazon, iTunes, Walmart and VOD. We'll definitely be keeping everyone up to speed on where they can find us, on our web site at Rise of the Fellowship.