Rise Of The Fellowship

By Leo Ziegler

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It’s been nearly 20 years since a young Peter Jackson gathered his friends on the weekends to film Bad Taste, creating an instant cult classic with nothing more than a 16-mm camera and homemade special effects. Now, he has professional actors and his own special-effects company (along with most of New Zealand’s population acting as extras) to help him bring the epic Lord of the Rings films to the screen.

This legend of Jackson has been an inspiration to young filmmakers throughout the world. Ron Newcomb is a D.C. filmmaker who has taken that inspiration to direct and co-write Rise of the Fellowship. Homage to Jackson’s LOTR films, Rise follows four high-school kids as they make their way to compete in the Lord of the Rings Online Gaming Championship.

rotf-wallpaper1Akin to World of Warcraft, the LOTR online game has its roots in the card and dice games of the  ‘80s. Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering were the pastimes that lead a young Newcomb to J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. The Shire and its surrounding worlds came to life in New Zealand, where Jackson filmed the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies. Ron Newcomb was one of the many pilgrims to make his way to Middle-earth. Rise of the Fellowship is as much a love letter to the Jackson films as it is to the world of gaming. Many of the actors were thrown full-on into this world by their director that way they would fully embody their characters.

After being a director for hire on the 2009 romantic comedy Wait Your Turn, Newcomb gained the confidence and met the right people to make a film as personal as it is ambitious to stand alongside the ode to Star Wars 2009 fan-based film, Fanboys. Rise of the Fellowship’s lead teenage gaming-nerd character’s life grows more and more into Jackson’s Hobbit world the farther he gets to Orlando to compete in the championship. Brian Pennington’s cinematography deftly blends common scenes into perfect recreations of scenes from LOTR, and Dale Clay’s score exactly mimics Howard Shore’s epic music. With all of these nods to Jackson, the film never loses sight of the story of a young boy growing into adulthood.

Rise of the Fellowship is available for download through Phase Four on iTunes, Amazon, Netflx and Walmart. For more information, check out the film's website here.

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