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‘The Hunt for Gollum’ Is Announced, Then ‘Lord of the Rings’ Fan Film Disappears

May 22, 20242 Mins Read

But YouTube denied the appeal. So, like eagles over Mordor, the Ringers, as the fans are known, swooped in. They wrote articles and posted heated comments on Reddit and other sites, calling the removal “deplorable” and “despicable.” Bouchard noted his disappointment on X.

Bouchard quickly received a follow-up email from YouTube: The movie had been reinstated. In an email, Warner Bros. said it had no official comment. YouTube did not reply to requests for comment.

Bouchard’s film is not your run-of-the-mill fan project. While it had a low budget — it cost just 3,000 pounds — he used advanced visual effects technology for the time and created orc get-ups and a backdrop of Welsh ruins. At certain angles, Adrian Webster, the actor who plays Aragon, even strikingly resembles Viggo Mortensen, who played the character in the studio films.

Inspired by behind-the-scenes shorts that accompanied the “Lord of the Rings” DVDs, Bouchard drew on a few short passages from “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first volume in the trilogy, as well as appendices. Seventeen years after Bilbo Baggins’s infamous, fireworks-filled birthday party in the Shire, the wizard Gandalf sends Strider (later known as Aragorn) to capture Gollum — a hobbit turned corrupted troglodyte — before the evil lord Sauron can glean from him the location of the all-powerful One Ring. “We wanted to explore the artistry and play in that same universe of Middle-earth,” Bouchard explained.

Bouchard “was one of the pioneers in generating the sidequel,” a work that’s akin to a spinoff, Regina said, and he expanded the source material in ways that other studios like Amazon have only more recently begun to explore. “It was the ultimate fan accomplishment,” Regina said.

Now working as a virtual effects professional and indie film director, Bouchard developed “The Hunt for Gollum” as a creative outlet while working his first job, as an assistant at a postproduction company in London. “I’ve always had a deep love for Tolkien’s work,” he said. “The depths of the world-building, the language, the poetry, the characters.”

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