Back in 2007, I had the opportunity to spend a whole day on the Hobbiton movie set near Matamata. I’d taken the tour the previous day, with my mother, who was over on a visit. I’d done the tour before, but it is worth doing a second time!
At the time, I was working on developing my drawing skills, and took every opportunity I could to make sketches of New Zealand landscape. Of course it tickled me mightily to try and do a sketch of The Real Bag End! So I’d taken my sketch pad, and while the rest of the tour was busy clambering about, I found myself a quiet spot and sketched away.
In the short time, I wasn’t able to produce anything I was happy with (I have gotten much faster since!) – so on the way back, I gathered my courage and asked the friendly lady who had taken the tour, if it might be possible to get permission to spend a bit more time on the set in order to do a sketch? She spotted the owner of the farm (and the tour business) on the road, jumped out the bus and asked him.
So the next morning (after I’d stocked up on a set of new pencils) – they took me in with the first tour, and let me stay, largely unsupervised, until the end of the last tour. Plenty of time to do a pretty decent sketch, AND wander about with my photo camera to take as many shots of Bag End and surroundings, as my heart delighted in: in the sun, in the rain, with the shadows getting longer toward evening … I even unobtrusively strolled off, between tours, to the bits where they don’t take the visitors – the location where Frodo’s first meeting with Gandalf was shot. Which satisfied my curiosity — but there really wasn’t anything much worth shooting there, I can assure you! 🙂
The set has since been renovated, to serve again for the upcoming film version of “The Hobbit”. Unfortunately, that also means they can’t be so generous about having people take photos any more: from what I’ve heard, visitors who do the tour now must sign a non-disclosure agreement. The good news is, apparently the plan is now to leave the set in it’s movie-ready state: at the time the “Lord of the Rings” movies were shot, no one could predict what a major tourist attraction it was going to be, and the plan had been to demolish the set after filming. It’s only thanks to some rains setting in early, that it is still there at all! (well —— at least, that’s the official version) 😉