As part of my first week as a nonsmoker, I watched the extended version of The Lord of the Rings, including all the behind-the-scenes special features. That film can cause schisms amongst gamers, depending on how seriously they take their Tolkien. I don’t mind its lack of Bombadil or the shield-boarding Legolas simply because I’m usually too busy being wowed by how beautifully the film brings Middle -earth to life.
Some years ago, I worked for the Hollywood Dream Factory. I was working in the industry when The Fellowship of the Ring was released and, in the months leading up to it, there was a lot of talk about that film on the various sets I worked. I doubt that I met one person who wouldn’t have sacrificed a family member to have crewed on that film. Of course, that was mostly because having a single steady job that lasts five years is unheard of in Hollywood unless you’re working on a successful series. And while I’d admit that that would have been nice in my own case, I had other reasons to be jealous.
I’ve mentioned that one of the reasons I enjoy this hobby is the opportunity to world build. So when I heard what Peter Jackson and Weta were up to down in New Zealand, I wished I could be part of that production. Not as a cast member or an extra, but as someone who helped breathe life into what I consider the most realistic fantasy world ever brought to the screen.
Watching the special features of the DVDs confirmed that the stories I heard during my time in L.A. were true. An army of artists, carpenters, craftsmen, miniature makers, set decorators, prop builders, greensmen, et al were needed to make Middle-earth as real as it seems on screen and I can’t help but feel a bit envious. Film may be a more visual medium when compared to role-playing games, but I still wish I had a small cadre of artists and craftsmen to help bring my own imaginary world to tangible life.
I’m in awe of people who can draw, paint, sculpt, or otherwise take something that exists solely in their mind and reproduce it in a concrete format. As a wordsmith, I’m only allowed a portion of success in that regard. Try as I might, I’m never 100% sure that people are really seeing what I describe with my writing. And while compete mental replication of what I’m envisioning isn’t necessary for people’s enjoyment of it, it’d be nice if I could be sure it happens once in awhile. One of these days, I should take a drawing course so that I might occasionally depict what’s in my head with a small degree of realism.
This lack of ability to physically replicate an imaginary world is one of the reasons that painting minis had grown on me. I’m in effect populating my world with representations that I can manipulate and visualize outside of my own head. Although they may be molded and poured by a third party, it’s my choice of paint and detailing makes turns them into unique residents of my own imaginary world. It’s a tiny accomplishment, but one I find satisfying nonetheless.
I wouldn’t mind being able to do more with what’s in my head, however. Maybe it’s time to start exploring crazy new ideas and see if anything comes of it…