Narnia, Adamson, and Beaver Caves, Oh My!

Out west in land of Narnia

25.09.2004 By REBECCA BARRY

New Zealand director Andrew Adamson is following in Peter Jackson’s ambitious footsteps by embarking on more than one major feature film at a time.

While production for the $100 million-plus The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is well under way, work has also begun on Shrek 3, the third in Adamson’s animated movie franchise that so far has taken $US1.3 billion at the box office.

Adamson spoke of his intense workload to about 20 international journalists, invited on to the West Auckland set of LWW for the first major promotional for the film.

The production, a joint venture between the Walt Disney Studios and Walden Media, is the first live-action adaptation from Adamson. The two companies are maintaining high secrecy of the film sets, refusing to release any advance images from the film.

“Shrek 3 is something I’m staying in touch with rather than working on right now,” said Adamson. “I don’t really have a lot of time to concentrate on that. But definitely it’s something I never really let go of.”

Adamson was midway through shooting a scene adapted from C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s book, in which the children trek through the snow-covered fantasy world of Narnia and stumble upon a beavers’ cave.

The action took place in a huge warehouse, thick with real pine trees and snow made from a fine paper product. The steam from the children’s breath will be added later using computer technology, as will about 50 per cent of the film.

Eighty-five people worked in Los Angeles for eight months before bringing the project to New Zealand, where Weta, the production team behind LOTR, worked on the project.

“It’s bigger than The Lord of the Rings,” said special effects designer Howard Berger. “LOTR had orcs and trolls; this has 23 species.”

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is being shot at various locations around New Zealand. The battle scenes have been shot at the huge plains and glaciers near Flock Hill, Christchurch, and scenes featuring Aslan’s camp and training grounds, near Oamaru. After Christmas, some of the winter scenes will be shot in the Czech Republic and Poland because the snow is not deep enough in New Zealand.

Production designer Roger Ford said the most challenging part of making the film was living up to the expectations of the imagination.

“The hardest part for me is to not only satisfy the child but to exceed their expectations,” he said. “C.S Lewis leaves it to the child’s imagination a lot of the time, which is why it is so successful.”

Adamson said if the first film did well, he would consider writing the screen adaptations for the other books in the seven-part series.

C.S. Lewis was good friends with J.R. Tolkien, just as Adamson is good friends with Jackson.

“I’ve talked to Peter many times. He’s got his hands full as well at the moment. I think we probably have completely different processes. I don’t really want to be shooting for 3 1/2 years.

“But there’s obviously some similarities in scale. On another level I think this is a very different film, and it deals with four individuals and it isn’t such an expansive story.”

Adamson said he had a year of post-production before the film was released in December next year.

Read the interview at The New Zealand Herald