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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:46 am 
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Filming has finally begun on The Hobbit. We’re all excited to see what Peter Jackson and co. will do with this wonderful book. While we wait for the real thing, though, some of us were wondering if there is any interest in scripting our own version of the film…could we do better than Jackson, Boyens and Walsh??? (Not forgetting GDT!)

This script is purely for fun, of course. Love for the story and the world that The Professor created matters more than literary experience. All are welcome who want to join in. Please offer a constructive opinion or, better yet, lend a hand with our work. Stick strictly to the story as written or venture into realms unexplored, it’s your choice. The only requirement is that you stay within the time span set by the book, though you may like to include related material such as Gandalf ‘s forays to DG, and the coming of Smaug to Erebor, and connect your ideas to the characters and situation as written by JRR Tolkien.

Once the “real” film hits the big screen we can have some fun comparing our efforts to the professionals.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:12 am 
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I have thought about it a little and have been daunted by some of the narrative problems. (I did tackle LOTR) Were I to set myself down to struggle with it I would opt for a serial format again. It makes understanding the structure better and one isn't hampered by constraints of movie length. I presume the plotline would cover anything that happened in Middle-earth from the descent of Smaug to the threshold of LOTR. Not everything has to be in of course but that is the seam to be mined.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:22 am 
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Between December 2001 and about 2004, I wrote 3 full-length fanfic "novels". But I have never tried writing a script and confess I would have no idea how. I'm a good reader, though, if someone else is up to it!!!

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:10 am 
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Tosh, you've got the time frame exactly. If we're working with a serial format we could add in just about anything, so I love your idea. I've been wanting to see how Thorin got the byname "Oakenshield" but couldn't fit it into a 3.5-4 hour movie.

Vision, we're going to need good critics for this project. When I started, back on the old Hobbit blog, I had never written script either. I looked up how to do it on the web, and fortunatley nobody laughed at my first efforts. Now I think I've got dialogue and camera direction down pretty well, but my format lacks some polish. Oh well, this is all for and only for fun.

So, if we're looking at a serial format, how many episodes would we have?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:10 am 
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This sounds interesting...I'm game to try my hand, though I've spent the last two years writing for the Valar and High Elves of the SIL - Hobbits and Dwarves are going to be a whole new ballgame for me!

So Tosh recommends a serialization as opposed to PJ's presumably 6 hours of film! Well, the BBC did the book in 4 hours for their radio adaptation, so that would leave 2 hours for the White Council and other backstory as we see fit.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:37 am 
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I think 6 hours should do it. That's the length of most BBC Series. It's also about the length PJ and Co will have to play with for the two movies.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:58 pm 
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When I started LOTR I had no idea how many episodes it would take. In the end it took 31 half hour episodes. I couldn't fit it into a tidier 30 and in truth the final episode would have benefited from 40 to 45 minutes. It felt too cramped to me.

Were we to try to do this for our own amusement rather than to some financial constraint, I don't think the length matters providing narrative tension is maintained.
Really I think I might be up for it but it will take an awful lot of thought. It took me 18 months to finish the second episode!! After that it moved more smoothly. One has to be careful not to fall into the trap of reciting the book. There have to be narrative surprises. As I said I see narrative problems and it might be fruitful to examine some of them to start with.

Here's one for instance: what mood and tone of voice do you adopt? A jolly children's book with all the silliness that only gradually turns into a grim Northern saga near the end? Or treat it as a serious story from the start and find ways to include the lighter elements?

ETA: I'm with you on the need for critics. I really valued the inputs from the readers even, nay especially the critical ones. I never felt bound to agree with criticisms but they always gave me the chance to re-examine what I wrote and of course many of them were spot on.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:34 pm 
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Some good points, Tosh. I for one, am happy to go for Jackson's approach in blending HOBBIT in with the darker elements of LotR - a gradual progression as GDT put it. But I know others like the whimsical and want to keep that.

Can I ask how you managed to gauge the screentime for your script when you were writing your adaptation? It's something I struggled to guestimate on the writing we were doing previously. I mean, apart from reading and acting it out, is there a formula for this??? :scratch:

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:15 pm 
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No, I used no formula. What I did was in no sense of the word professional. I wrote in shortish segments (having planned out an overall structure) then recited the dialogue and imagined out the purely visual sequences to a timing on a watch. I recited stuff really slowly and over estimated the time for visual things and aimed to end in around 25 to 28 minutes. I needed that to give a sense of space. If I wrote tightly to 30 minutes it always felt cramped and breathless. If the duration of the segments went over the 28 minute timescale I set to cutting and trimming. Every episode had to end at a dramatic or psychological point which was never difficult given the strength of the original narrative.

Another thing; the LOTR serial was in part designed to show that a purist approach to the work could work perfectly well dramatically so I felt bound to keep to that principle fairly faithfully even though I did invent a few moments. I'm not certain The Hobbit would benefit from such a restrictive policy.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:07 pm 
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How about if we kept the light mood for the parts of the story where we have Bilbo and the Dwarves, at least until things get dark for them too. All around them we could show the world going downhill in a handbasket, and perhaps even the Dwarves realize what is happening in the outside. From reading the books in series, I think that the Shire was blissfully, even deliberately ignorant of what was happening in the larger world until it smacked them in the face. Not that Hobbits are cowards, but that after all they had helped put Sauron to rest thank you very much, and he should not be an issue again.

Looking at this gave me an idea that might or might not work depending on timing. Were the Dwarves in Mirkwood about the same time as the White Council was driving out the Necromancer from Dol Guldur? If so, that might explain Thranduil's reaction to strangers and hopefully make Thranduil less of a jerk.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:22 am 
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Next narrative problem: where do you start? The start of LOTR is reasonably easy, it's simply a choice between the birthday party or some backstory. PJ went for the back story but people on the boards preferred a start in the Shire (despite it being less purist :P )
But I think there are very many alternative starts to The Hobbit and that choice is important for both setting the mood and defining what the underlying theme of the story is (another narrative problem)

The other thing is to list what stories that are outside the text of The Hobbit people would like to see included. For instance Ethelwynn mentioned the origin of Oakenshield. I presume the White Council is a given.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:18 pm 
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How about if we take the next two weeks, figure out what scenes we want to show, and get some rough assignments figured out? That way we know where we're going when we start writing this, or at least we have a rough idea. I'm offering May 1 as a firm cut-off date by which we should have the first scenes in process. Otherwise we could be wrestling with details until the real movie hits the screens.

As to where to start, I'll offer a radical thought to get people out of the woodwork. How about if we start with Gandalf meeting Thorin in a pub somewhere and offering to find the 14th member of the expedition? Then go from there to the opening in the Shire, with Bilbo smoking his pipe on a fine morning and Gandalf coming over the hill. Any thoughts?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:23 pm 
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So taking that idea, it would mean a more linear opening, with flashbacks to Gandalf and Thrain in DG occurring in their right place within The Hobbit, not as some kind of prologue - could work! How does the White Council business fit in for that? I mean do we only show the 2941 meeting and simply reference verbally what happened at the previous Council?

Also, what about if we wished to show the coming of Smaug to Erebor, Girion's emeralds and Thror fleeing the Lonely Mountain with his family? Maybe that would be a better prologue...

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:55 pm 
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I won't be able to contribute much if anything to this, but I do think one of the charms of the book was that it begins with a close focus on Bilbo at home, and our world expands as his does.

Would "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" have the same resonance coming after a number of opening scenes that have nothing to do with hobbits?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:56 pm 
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See! Not that simple is it? :D The start is something I've loosely tossed around in my mind but without yet coming to any conclusion. But it is crucially important. In fact the only scene I have tried to flesh out in my mind so far actually is at Bree. But I'm still not certain if that's the best place to start.
You see, if you start with the descent of Smaug, you make the theme of the story the dwarven quest. If you start with the meeting at Bree you slide towards making Gandalf the central character. If you start in the Shire with Bilbo and Gandalf you have to explain a lot of backstory - not impossible but one has to be careful not to make it clumsy. Tolkien loved the retrospective narrative and used it a lot but I tried to be very sparing in my own treatment.
I really have to think about this.
As for the wishlist of things we'd like to see, I have a hankering to make some passing reference to the great famine. It's where Gandalf first saw the inner qualities of the hobbits.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:24 pm 
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First of all I'd like to introduce myself. I used to be a member of a Hobbit movie related blog, which was unfortunately closed down a little while ago.
Since first announcements of this whole Hobbit movie project back in 2008 (!) dedicated fans had contributed their ideas there. We came up with something very similar back then, to write our own Hobbit movie(s) script, basically because we couldn't wait for Peter Jackson's crew to finally get going.
Most of our script-writing back then was initiated and very well supported by a very dedicated member, who I very much hope to find again here, too.

So, I know this is a complete new thread and a complete new project at a completely new blog, but I'd still like to pick up a few of the ideas we had back then (unfortunately most of it is lost now).

To "pick up the threads" from the last scene of the ROTK movie (which will be the last picture a film audience has seen from Middle-Earth before the beginning of the Hobbit movie) we came up with this idea back then that it were a nice connection between these movies to have a quick opening scene for the Hobbit movie where we see Samwise Gamgee in his days as a father or grandfather sitting in a cozy arm-chair at Bag End reading from the Red Book to his children or grandchildren or maybe even giving a general reading to a group of Hobbit children. And of course he starts with "A Hobbit's Tale - There and Back Again" by Bilbo Baggings!
In these few seconds the camera could also show us a bit of the room at Bag End where Sam is sitting, maybe there's even a small portrait of Frodo and Bilbo on the wall by the side of Sam's arm-chair, and for a second he glances a bit of a melancholic at this little picture before he starts reading "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit..."

I'm so happy to see this project come alive here once more!
:)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:45 pm 
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It sounds like such a fun project. I'll have to be on the sidelines for now, though, with school. Maybe this summer!

And mae govannen, Lhûn!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:35 am 
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If you look briefly at what I did you will see I made no attempt whatsoever to provide either a formal shooting or actor's script. Necessary as those are for actual productions I considered them too dry for the average enthusiast. Instead I tried to describe in words the visual sense of the scenes. I always feared even then that it would be hard to digest but I'll leave it to others to say if it worked as an effective narrative.

I've been looking at the timelines. It does look as if Bree might work as an introductory scene. Crikey this will need an awful lot of work and thought! :help: It's all very well diving into a first episode but if several themes that are not in the book itself are to be interwoven one needs to think about structure. LOTR was reasonably straightforward. Everything was already there in a fairly direct chronological line but I needed to juggle the book order around. (There were around 26 separate and distinct narrative sequences between the breaking of the fellowship and the Pelennor Fields). When I got to the breaking of the fellowship I had to plan out the structure in advance before I wrote a single further episode.

What I found is that where you introduce second or third elements to the story gives you the chance to heighten suspense or to achieve all sorts of effects so planning ahead has to be done to some extent. I'm not trying to be a wet blanket by the way. It's just that my curiosity has been piqued and I've started thinking about it.
I'm still daunted by it though. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:05 am 
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Tosh, you're no wet blanket so don't worry. The time for caution is in the planning -- after that it's all hats in the ring.

Good to see you here, Lhûn. This thread is picking up old Hobbit Blog survivors like the Carpathia fished Titanic passengers out of the water. Step on up to First Class. :hug:

On the idea of mixing different story lines into one script, some of us were working on a project scripting The Silmarillion before the old blog dumped us off. We fell into the trick of having one or two people tackle a single group of characters and just concentrate on them. As scenes were written and posted, everyone put in their editing ideas and our coordinator cut the scenes into episodes. I think this worked well for us because those writing the scenes could concentrate on their own areas, as the characters would be doing.

Of course, our script here won't have nearly as much going on as the SIL did. We only have to worry about occasional flashbacks and inter-cuts, even if we show the Goblins massing for war before the Battle of the Five Armies.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:20 am 
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Hi Lhûn! :hug: I'm so glad to see you here! Yes, I remember coming in half way through the HOBBIT scripting exercise on the old Blog! If I remember correctly, you had reached the Elves in Mirkwood and members were querying the colour of Thranduil's hair! My very first post was to confirm it was golden!!

However, I don't remember it being a full-blown script as such, more a rolling discussion of ideas on how to approach each chapter in the book, and what we would like to see in each scene. But, once Ethelwynn joined us we did start experimenting with dialogue and building up confidence! We did (rather successfully I think!) script our version of PJ's project F2 Bridge film, which I still have a copy of, and naturally we might be able to use a fair bit of that in this extended HOBBIT.

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