Soviet Lord Of The Rings TV Movie Was Shot In Just A Week Under Shoestring Budget Conditions

Against all odds, director Natalya Serebryakova managed to film a two-hour adaptation of the first The Lord Of The Rings book.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring may have been the first live-action adaptation of author J.R.R Tolkien's iconic fantasy novels, but it wasn't the first that cameras began rolling during a trip to Middle-earth. That honor falls to "Khraniteli," aka The Protectors, a low-budget adaptation of Fellowship of the Ring that was broadcast in 1991, mere months before the Soviet Union was dissolved.

A two-hour production split into two parts, The Protectors remained unheard of for almost 30 years until footage of it was uploaded online by its producer 5TV, formerly known as Leningrad TV. If the entire TV special looks like a hastily thrown-together effort, that's because it genuinely was, as the adaptations cast and crew had to film The Protectors on a tight budget in a mere week.

"We had almost no budget, no costumes, and almost no time. I was pleasantly surprised we were able to do so much with so little," Georgiy Shtil, who played Bilbo Baggins, said in a detailed interview Variety.

Sergey Shelgunov, who played Merry Brandybuck, added that "everything that the TV station had to offer" was used, which probably explains Gollum's cabbage-head costume. The actor also estimated that the shoot was completed in about nine hours, and was spread out over the course of a week.

Director Natalya Serebryakova was determined to get at least some epic scenes filmed, and managed to wrangle some horses for the production, shoot outdoor scenes, and make use of cutting-edge green screen special effects for the time.

"The film is 100% the result of her struggles, working 30 years ago without any money," Shelgunov said. "Frankly, it's a huge win that it looks as good as it does."

In other Lord of the Rings news, Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke addressed reports of the show having a budget of $465 million, explaining that the actual final sum is being spent to sustain the whole series. The show is currently filming in New Zealand, where it has received a $100 million rebate from the local government.

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