Interviews: Ron Newcomb - Director of Rise of the Fellowship

Here's our interview with Ron Newcomb, director of Rise of the Fellowship

Rise of the Fellowship has been described as a Fan Boys type film but about Lord of the Rings fans. Check out our interview with director, Ron Newcomb.

TMS:  So, what can you tell us about your latest movie, Rise of the Fellowship? And why will Lord of the Rings fanatics flock to your movie? On that note, are you a rabid fan of Peter Jackson’s movies?

RN: Let me start off by saying “thank you” to giving true indie film a voice, it’s the only way we’re going to get out there. People can head to our website to find ways to see the film and thus be able to get out and “vote for the film”. But, what’s this all about? Randall Dooley is a geek. His three best friends are geeks too. He works in a game shop, he spends all his free time playing online games, his older brother bullies him unmercifully, his widowed mom doesn't understand him, and he's hopelessly in love with the prettiest cheerleader in high school. In short, he's a loser. All of that changes when he hears of the Lord of the Rings gaming competition in Orlando, Florida. Finally! Meaning in life! Rise of the Fellowship is a buddy-comedy written in honor of online gamers and The Lord of the Rings. Full of Tolkien-references and good-hearted fun, Rise of the Fellowship will appeal to Tolkien-fans and gamers alike, as well as anyone who's never been part of the in-crowd.

It’s our “love letter” to Tolkien and a fun way we could be a part of his legacy in some small way. We’ve packed his story and wrapped into a modern setting. It pays tribute to Lord of the Rings, but it is more of a stand along film that parallels the Lord of the Rings. We have many characters that are in the film however, that you'll recognize and some others that did not make it into the LOTR films but were a part of the books. We also were able to get permission to use the video game Lord of the Rings Online in the film that touches the trilogy in a new and modern way. But Lord of the Rings flans flock – that’s what they do. They are die-hard loyal, I know because I’m one of them. They are protective of their story, but when they find you taking care and nurturing the story, they’ll go on the journey with you. LOTR fans, especially early in finding “the precious”, want to consume as many LOTR & Hobbitie things they can find.

I must say, I am a HUGE fan of Sir PJ’s films. So much so that in 2007 I convinced five of my friends to go on an epic journey with me to New Zealand to do a LOTR’s tour when they were just getting started and while in NZ, I ended up getting an elvish script tattoo along with two of my buddies – which is a big deal, it’s the only tattoo I have. Of course I enjoyed the books, but the films moved me emotionally and to come so unexpected from NZ, it was awesome to see. I’m a PJ fan for life!

TMS: When making this film, what were your main influences and what exactly made you decide to  make a film about Lord of the Rings fans? Is this something you had been thinking about for a while or something that was spurred by Jackson’s return to the franchise? Would this have gotten made without Jackson’s newest trilogy?

RN: It was a film that we could film as independent filmmakers, and a film we wanted to see. There are many other influences, especially the 80's filmed we loved so much like "Karate Kid" and "Goonies"; but we've also been compared to the film "Fan Boys" which was more towards Star Wars, so if we are the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit Fan Boys - that would be a great compliment.

Definitely influenced by Jackson’s franchise, but again it had to be something we wanted to see as well. Gaming was another big influencer. We wanted to have a mash-up with the popularity with gaming in a film.

Yes, it most certainly would be made. Why? We were already fans and were filmmakers. It’s not beholden to Peter Jackson’s work and the story is really a stand alone, you don’t need to be a Tolkien fan to get our film.

TMS: As a whole, who would you say your biggest influences are as a filmmaker? Would you cite one specific film as the defining factor in your career or are you just a huge genre fan in general?

RN: I’m trying really hard to think of something bigger than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I just cannot – it’s definitely them. I definitely have some others – I love the cinematic & epic look. I’m a big fan of what Zac Snyder did in “300”. It’s hard not to watch something and think about how they did that show, and where I might be able to use a shot like that. I have to watch films in silence with my wife.

TMS: What’s next after Rise of the Fellowship? I think fans will definitely dig the movie. Do you think you might do something else along the same lines as this movie or do you have other ideas that you’d like to put to film?

RN: Indie filmmakers really have to see their films through all the way to the end. So it’s hard to start to move in, as we’re still so deep in trying to get the word out there.

But, it is fun to start to think about “what’s next”. And it’ll somewhat be in the same vein. We are working on an epic fantasy web series (think TV series for the internet), called “The Rangers”. We have created a fantasy world and took the character Strider and mashed them together a bit with Jedi and a few others. We plan on doing a Kickstarter campaign in march.

TMS: Where can people see your movie and what do you want the fans to know about this release?

RN: Go VOTE! People do it every weekend. If we show there is a demand for something we love – the distributors will listen. Then Go and Do – spread the word, be an ambassador for what you love. The many ways you can see the film can be found right on our web site, but some of the more popular ones are Amazon and iTunes.

And we’re coming to Netflix in January. We are also already oversees in a few countries – but just check out site and we’ll point you in the right direction as things come on board.