Just 20 minutes after the release of the Amazon trailer for the creative team of the Lord of the Rings series, we had the opportunity at Tolkien Thing to interview Tom Shippey, our Guest of Honour, about the trailer and the project exclusively. He is one of the 20 names presented in the video and had not yet seen the video himself. Together we went through the trailer piece by piece, which was analyzed by Shippey and us.
Tom Shippey laughs loudly at our first question whether some names are still missing and remains silent.
Tom, what do you think about the video?
It will be of great importance for the series when exactly the plot takes place, at which point in Middle-earth history something happens. This was one of our difficulties when creating a map for the Second Age, because you have to determine very precisely what date this map should be from. Tolkien wrote some of it down, but as far as the Second Age goes, the information we have is a three-page timeline in the appendices to the Lord of the Rings and the List of Kings of Númenor and a little more material in the Unfinished Tales, but that’s about all.
So does Amazon have a free hand in the interpretation?
Does the Tokien Estate have a veto on changes?
What about the First and Third Ages?
[The Tolkien Estate holds the rights to events in the First Age. The rights to the events in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, i.e. in the Third Age, lie with Middle-earth Enterprises and not with Amazon Studios. Whether and to what extent Amazon is conducting or has conducted negotiations with Middle-earth Enterprises is not known.]
Where did they film the scenes with you in the trailer?
[Tom Shippey told us in another interview that he and John Howe had been invited to a Hotel in Neuchâtel by Amazon Studios for a photo and press conference.]
Do you know any of the names presented in the video?
Do you know anything about the start of the production?
In the last month several rumours circulated about possible shooting locations in Scotland or New Zealand. None of this has yet been confirmed. What do you think about the location debate?
At first, only excerpts of the map were published, then there was nothing about the Amazon series for a long time. Now this video presents the members of the Creative Team. What do you think of the marketing strategy, to publish all information only bit by bit?
How would you do it if you were employed in marketing – a question just for fun?
Do you already get press enquiries about the series?
We are aware that the security requirements at Amazon Studios are very high and Tom Shippey is not allowed to answer all questions the way he might. He himself repeatedly emphasises that he does not know much and follows new developments with great interest. This shows how careful Amazon is about secrecy.
For us it is now very clear that the title of the series, Lord of the Rings, does not actually mean the title of the book and thus the events of the Third Age, but Sauron as a character, as the lord of the Rings of Power. However, since his development starts in the First Age and he already plays a role there, it remains exciting to what extent Amazon can and will refer to this.
Cover photo and portrait Tom Shippey: Tobias M. Eckrich