Sculpture a precious asset for cinema

00:09, Dec 06 2012
LARGER THAN LIFE: State Cinema Motueka manager Mark Wentworth, left, and Ruby Bay sculptor Derek Ball, right, on top of the cinema with the Gollum Mr Ball made to promote The Hobbit.

Gollum's journey from a photograph to a twice life-size sculpture crouched on top of the State Cinema in Motueka took 135 hours and all the expandable foam in Bunnings Warehouse.

The Tolkien character sprang to life on top of the cinema on Sunday morning, when four men installed Ruby Bay's sculptor Derek Ball's creation eight metres above the cinema's carpark.

State Cinema Motueka manager Mark Wentworth had seen a story in the Nelson Mail about some large sculptures Mr Ball had done and thought, "I'd like to put something on the roof that's ours and seeing what Derek was able to create, that was it."

When he approached the sculptor, Mr Ball said, "‘How we do it?' and Mark said, ‘That's up to you. I'll give you the photograph."

Mr Ball said the challenges were more structural than artistic.

"He's not as off-beat as you might think," he said of Gollum's form, which he created doubled his own measurements.


The main problem was how to create the giant Gollum light enough that it could be installed on the roof without a crane. He settled on using a steel and wire netting frame and using expandable urethane to create Gollum's skin.

"The transition from a photograph to [the finished piece] is amazing - the level of detail with the ribs and ears. I've seen a small part of the movie and he's got it down," said Mr Wentworth.

"I wish I could have seen some of the movie - that would have helped", replied Mr Ball.

The men would not say how much the project had cost but Mr Wentworth said it was "not a lot". "It's a Motueka-type budget, but it's not a bad investment for three films."

Mr Ball said his first question was whether he would be infringing copyright by creating the sculpture but Mr Wentworth said he was confident that because no one was profiting commercially and it was to advertise the movie, he would have no problems from Warner Brothers.

The movie debuts at the cinema - and all across the world - at 12.01am on Wednesday, December 12. Mr Wentworth said that based on the five months that the final instalment of Lord of the Rings ran for at the Motueka cinema, Gollum would remain perched on the roof until at least March.