With a structure similar to that of Bravo’s “Project Greenlight,” “Not Another Tolkien Movie” documents a producer and director duo’s experience making an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Lord of the Rings.” “Not Another Tolkien Movie” begins with producer Ron Dupre (Dallas Shelby) and director Arthur Krize (Brock Fanning) meeting with Peter Tanner (Peter Skinner) in the hopes that he will agree to play Gandalf. From there, the film covers the myriad aspects of filmmaking, such as casting, costume-fitting, shooting, test screening, and special effects.
Even though Arthur Krize and crew are focused on the making of their film, “The Ring-Bearer,” Dallas Shelby is more concerned with “Not Another Tolkien Movie,” which is the making of “The Ring-Bearer.” Part parody, part critical commentary, Shelby’s film highlights the ups and downs of making a movie. Courses of action regarding production are chosen without the director’s consent, last-minute casting changes disrupt the flow of operations, and people who think they know better push their ideas onto the director. As “Not Another Tolkien Movie” reveals, for example, Ron Dupre makes decisions without consulting Arthur, impacting the artistic and narrative integrity of “The Ring-Bearer.” After learning that Ron didn’t get Peter Tanner to commit to the part of Gandalf, Arthur has had to assume the role of long-haired-protector-of-Frodo. When Ron accidentally fires a rifle at Willie Forsythe Jr. (William Holloway), Roy Triveldi (Abir Triveldi), one of the film’s investors, has to step in and play Gimli.
Looking at “Not Another Tolkien Movie” in its entirety, there are actually two films being made, a parody within a mockumentary. The Tolkien spoof comprises a smaller portion than what you may initially think. Shelby’s film incorporates scenes from “The Ring-Bearer” primarily to facilitate his desire to present the absurd and inconvenient aspects of moviemaking. Whether it’s from first-hand or observational experience, Shelby addresses the many ways in which a director’s control over his own film is threatened and diluted, and he does it with humor and well-paced editing rhythm.
In addition to Shelby’s direction, the cast of “Not Another Tolkien Movie” contributes significantly to the viewer’s enjoyment. From the hand-expressive Bryce (Jason Putsche) as Boromir, the somewhat-old-but-very-short-Shakespearean-trained Reggie (Mark Burlet) as Frodo, the diva-esque Tad (Aaron Cullers) as Aragorn, to the loud and lively wardrobe mistress Joyce Papadimitriou (Julianne Boley) as Merry, the actors adroitly negotiate double-tiered roles. Most of these actors are pretending to be actors pretending to be characters from “Lord of the Rings.” “Not Another Tolkien Movie” presents itself as a bonafide making-of documentary (and technically it is one) but doesn’t mislead the viewers into believing that “The Ring-Bearer” is a ‘real’ adaptation.