VIDEO + PICTURE GALLERY: Father and son team up to make Hobbit-inspired film in the little-known shire of Saffron Walden

Children of the Hobbit. Children of the Hobbit.

Thursday, May 15, 2014
10:13 AM

Middle Earth is once again under threat from a dark power but this time the future of Gandalf and co. is in the hands of a Saffron Walden father and son’s imagination.

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Richard Bellany (right) as Drogo and Etholph played by Ethan Dorrington.Richard Bellany (right) as Drogo and Etholph played by Ethan Dorrington.

The duo were inspired to make a short film based on JRR Tolkien’s book The Hobbit and have used Saffron Walden’s iconic scenery as a backdrop.

Richard Bellany, 11, stars in the lead role as Drogo, a hobbit who teams up with his friend Etholph in a quest to defeat the evil Orcs and return peace to Middle Earth.

The story was written by Richard and his dad Paul, a special effects artist who has worked on films such as Harry Potter and The Bourne Ultimatum.

“It started way back when I was a child, listening to my mother reading The Hobbit,” Paul, 45, told the Reporter. “Thirty five years later, when my son Richard and I were reading Tolkien’s book, it inspired us to make this film.”

The young cast is made up of pupils from RA Butler Academy and St Thomas More, including Ethan Dorrington as Etholph, Jessica Mason as Elensar the elf, her sister Abbey Mason as Lady Yebba and Orcs played by Jamie Bellany, Scotty Bellany, Louis Dolby and Isabelle Reader. Louis Robinson-Warwick, Imogen Hider and Ellen Harvey also star.

Speaking about the making of the film, Richard said: “I have read The Hobbit to my dad three times and that inspired me to make this film. Children of the Hobbit is about friendship and tackling challenges together.”

He added: “What I’d like to do when I’m older is acting. The bit I most enjoy about filming is that you can make it about anything you want using your creativity, your imagination, your friends, your family, and just have fun.”

Ethan said: “I think my dad really enjoyed me being in the film because he got to help out quite a lot. My mum enjoyed it too but hated having to do my costume!”

Scenes were filmed at various locations, including Audley End, Walden Castle and the Axe & Compasses pub at Arkesden. There was even a green screen used so that Richard, who also plays Gandalf, could be in the same scene as Drogo.

Paul’s nephew Scotty, who plays Slugger the Orc, said: “It was great fun to be an Orc. We had to put face paints on and had chains, swords and axes. My mum did my make-up and I think it was very good because I actually looked like a good Orc.”

Jessica, who with Abbey was lead vocalist on the theme song Will You Go?, described recording the track at the Café Music Studios as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

On the film, she said: “I spent about an hour a day practising my lines. My favourite scene was the one at night by the fire because we got to stay up really late and eat marshmallows, which was awesome!”

Audiences will get their first glimpse of the movie when it is premiered at Saffron Screen this summer. In the mean time, a trailer about the battle for Middle Earth in the little-known shire of Saffron Walden can be viewed on YouTube at http://youtu.be/0Zh-n_1qmgs.

It is not the first time Paul and Richard have made a film together. In 2012, Saffron Screen put on a screening of Scallywags Adventure, a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque short film which also starred Jessica and Abbey.

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