The Lord of the Rings could be the greatest film of all time (in my humble opinion) . The amazing storytelling, the epic scale, and visual spectacles are definitely praiseworthy. But the main reason I love the trilogy is because it was my film school. Through behind the scenes features, Peter Jackson gave me unprecedented access to everything. It was unbelievable!
At the time the Fellowship of the Ring was released in theatres, I was living in San Diego… only an hour from the movie capital of the world. I had a few friends in low level positions at a couple of the major studios and maybe if I had a script one of them might have been able to get into the right hands. Even if the stars aligned and God parted the heavens, the fact still remained that I didn’t have a clue back then…. about anything.
I was undenably eager to see each of the three films on the big screen, but when they came out on DVD… I was beside myself. I would have sold a kidney if I had to, because each disc unlocked the mysteries of the film world. Unprecedented access to knowlege about professional equipment, actors, set construction, budgets, location scouting, special effects and visual effects. I was in heaven.
There are many filmmakers that I admire. Peter Jackson (as I already mentioned), George Lucas, Brian Singer, M. Night Shyamalan, J.J. Abrams – all for the same reason. They were willing to hand over their years of experience to me for less than 50 bucks…. and some times for free (on the Internet).
We could debate the merits of whether big budget Hollywood filmmakers are worthy to even be called filmmakers. Whether no budget indie films or art house flicks are truer to what motion pictures were intended to be. I’ll leave that discussion to people who actually care about that. All I know is that I am grateful to be trained by some of the best.