The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum is a 2009 British fantasy fan film based on the appendices of J. R. R. Tolkien's 1954–55 book The Lord of the Rings.[1][2][3] The film is set in Middle-earth, when the wizard Gandalf the Grey fears that Gollum may reveal information about the One Ring to Sauron. Gandalf sends ranger Aragorn on a quest to find Gollum.[4]

The Hunt for Gollum
Directed byChris Bouchard
Screenplay byChris Bouchard
additional writing by
Sabina Sattar
Julianne Honey-Mennal
Stuart Price
Based onThe Lord of the Rings by
J. R. R. Tolkien
Produced byChris Bouchard
Julianne Honey-Mennal
Gladys San Juan
Brian Lavery
Spencer Duru
Sabina Sattar
Narrated byPatrick O'Connor
CinematographyChris Child
John-Paul Frazer
Gareth Brough
Mike Ritchie
Neill Phillips
Stein Stie
Edited byLewis Albrow
Music byAdam Langston
Andrew Skrabutenas
Chris Bouchard
Rickety Shack Films
Independent Online Cinema
Distributed byIndependent Online Cinema
Release date
3 May 2009
Running time
38 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budgetless than £3,000
(less than US$5,000)
Box office£0 (distributed free)

Filming took place in North Wales, Epping Forest, and Hampstead Heath. The film was shot in high definition video, with a budget of £3,000 (US$5,000).[3][5] The production is completely unofficial and unauthorized, though Bouchard said he had "reached an understanding" with Tolkien Enterprises in 2009.

The Hunt for Gollum debuted at the Sci-Fi-London film festival and on the Internet, free to view, on 3 May 2009.[2][6] By 20 October, it had been viewed by 5 million people,[1] and over 15 million times by 2020.


The film is set during the timespan of The Fellowship of the Ring. It takes place 17 years after Bilbo Baggins's 111th birthday party and just before Frodo Baggins leaves the Shire for Rivendell (an interval which was not outlined in the motion picture based on that story). The wizard Gandalf fears that Gollum may reveal information about the One Ring to the Dark Lord Sauron, and sends the Ranger Aragorn, heir of Isildur, on a quest to find him.

The story opens with a brief prologue about the ring's disappearance before cutting to Aragorn (Adrian Webster) and Gandalf (Patrick O'Connor) at an inn (presumably the Prancing Pony) in Bree. Gandalf explains his concerns about Gollum's knowledge of the Ring falling into enemy hands, and asks Aragorn to find the creature with his tracking skills. After initially having little luck, Aragorn crosses paths with a fellow ranger and distant kinsman named Arithir (Arin Alldridge), a Ranger of the North, who reports hearing rumours about a creature that has been stealing fish from open windows in local villages; the movie cuts to a scene of Gollum doing just that, and eating his ill-gotten gain atop the roof.

Aragorn and Arithir part ways, and Aragorn encounters and kills a pair of orc scouts in the forest. He soon locates Gollum by a fish pond afterwards and captures the creature in a snare trap. Having secured the whining and protesting Gollum inside a sack, Aragorn sets out for Mirkwood. On the way, he briefly spots one of the nine Ringwraiths in the woods, but avoids it. Later that same day, he is attacked by an orc squad and defeats them, but is hit by a poison dart which takes effect after he dispatches his last attacker. He collapses beside a patch of Athelas flowers and has a vision of Arwen (Rita Ramnani) in Rivendell.

Aragorn regains consciousness at dusk and discovers that Gollum has escaped from the sack. He seeks the creature well into the night, but finally finds him hiding up in a tree. Gollum fearfully explains that a Ringwraith is coming — seconds later, a Ringwraith indeed does appear and attacks Aragorn. After a short but intense duel, the Ringwraith flees from a bright light created by the Elves of Mirkwood, who recapture Gollum and guide Aragorn back to their fortress.

The scene cuts to Gandalf emerging from Mirkwood's dungeons after interrogating Gollum. Gandalf tells Aragorn that Gollum knows of Bilbo Baggins and The Shire, and explains that he must now go there to warn Frodo. Aragorn suggests sending Frodo to meet him in Bree, and Gandalf readily agrees. The film ends with Gollum speaking to himself in the dungeon, where he vows to kill "Bagginses" and reclaim his "Precious".



Principal photographyEdit

"Bringing Gollum himself to life has been a major challenge, I really didn’t want to cop out and knew that seeing Gollum would be an important part of the film. We have used just about every trick in the book to portray Gollum on screen without the full power of Weta Digital behind us!"

Chris Bouchard on Gollum's production[10]

The Hunt for Gollum had a shooting budget of less than £3,000.[5] Location filming took place in North Wales, Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath.[2] 160 people volunteered as crew members for the production.[2] The production design was based on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. Director Chris Bouchard said, "Peter Jackson's individual look was a big inspiration, it's been an adventure for us to play in that world that he created."[2] The fight scenes were "a huge technical challenge".[11]


The VFX crew was headed by Adam Thomas while Maciej Kuciara supervised the Digital Matte works.[12] Alban Kasikci, Brett Frame, Daren Horley, Dennis Fraser, Corey Butler, Guillaume Benamout, Ismail Kemal Ciftcioglu, Joe Kormendi, Hesam Bani-Eghbal, Kaustav Sinha, Michael James, Nick Marshall, Tiberius Viris and Vladimir Teneslav were Matte Painters. With almost 160 people down the crew list the film crew had 60 on visual effects shots for the film over the internet.[13]


The sound mix was completed at the Futureworks studio in Manchester.[14] The composers for The Hunt for Gollum were Adam Langston, Andrew Skrabutenas and Chris Bouchard. The soundtrack has never been released on CD. The soundtrack was released for free music download.

Track listing
2."Hunt for Gollum Theme"Bouchard1:04
3."First Steps"Langston0:57
5."Ancient Bloodline"Bouchard1:25
6."Crossing the Mountains"Langston1:51
7."The Road is Long"Skrabutenas1:52
8."Arithir the Ranger"Bouchard0:38
9."Finding Gollum"Skrabutenas1:35
10."Aragorn and Gollum"Skrabutenas3:31
11."Orcs Approaching"Skrabutenas1:37
12."Athelas and the Evenstar"Langston1:48
13."The Nazgul of Dol Guldur"Langston2:23
14."The Elves of Mirkwood"Skrabutenas2:44
15."Frodo Must Be Protected"Skrabutenas2:36
16."Aragorn's Quest (Trailer 1)"Bouchard3:25

Legal issuesEdit

"We got in touch with Tolkien Enterprises and reached an understanding with them that as long as we are completely non-profit then we're okay. We have to be careful not to disrespect their ownership of the intellectual property. They are supportive of the way fans wish to express their enthusiasm."

Chris Bouchard[2]

It is unclear whether the production violates the rights held by the Tolkien Estate and New Line films. Fred von Lohmann, director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told National Public Radio that the high quality of the film and its global reach via the internet could potentially create legal issues.[3]



The Hunt for Gollum debuted at the Sci-Fi-London film festival and on the Internet, free to view, on 3 May 2009.[2][6] By 20 October 2009, it had been viewed by 10 million people.[1] Bouchard states it has had over 15 million views (by 2020).[15]

The Balticon Film Festival for amateur short films awarded The Hunt for Gollum their Best Live Action award in 2009.

Critical responseEdit

The film had 3 million views in the first 3 months of release and was well received. It was generally praised for being one of the best made fan films available on the internet. Shortly after its May 2009 release, it became the "fourth most watched release in the US in terms of viewing numbers".[1]

The trailer for the film was well received online. A blogger for Entertainment Weekly said that based on the trailer, the film "looks awesome", and added that the filmmakers "seem to have nailed a passable low-budget version of Peter Jackson's best-epic-movie-ever visuals."[7] Similarly, a blogger for Wired News said that "The Hunt for Gollum looks pretty stunning for a film made 'by fans for fans.'"[16] On National Public Radio's All Things Considered, reporter Laura Sydell said, "The Hunt for Gollum looks just like the Hollywood version. I was fooled the first time I saw it. ... the special effects in the trailer are flawless."[3] A writer for the film website Rotten Tomatoes said, "the trailers suggest it'll be better than Eragon ... or Krull".[17]

The Tolkien scholar Robin Anne Reid wrote that "The consensus seems to be that the film is atypical of fan productions because of its professional production values" and calls it a "hybrid fan/pro film".[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Steele, Francesca (9 October 2009). "Gollum spearheads the Hollywood fan-film revolution". The Times. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Masters, Tim (30 April 2009). "Making Middle-earth on a shoestring". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sydell, Laura (30 April 2009). "High-Def 'Hunt For Gollum' New Lord of the Fanvids". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  4. ^ "3009 Gandalf and Aragorn renew their hunt for Gollum at intervals during the next eight years, searching in the vales of Anduin, Mirkwood, and Rhovanion to the confines of Mordor. At some time during these years Gollum himself ventured into Mordor, and was captured by Sauron. Elrond sends for Arwen, and she returns to Imladris; the Mountains and all lands eastward are becoming dangerous.", Appendix B, the Third Age timeline.
  5. ^ a b McInerney, Steven. "The Hunt for Gollum: Behind the Scenes". Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b "The Hunt for Gollum". Sci-Fi-London. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Vozick-Levinson, Simon (24 April 2009). "'The Hunt for Gollum': How awesome is the new trailer?". Entertainment Weekly. Popwatch blog. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Hunt for Gollum, kortfilm fra 2009". FilmFront. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  9. ^ Frodo calls Gollum "not so very different from a hobbit once". In the book, however, Sméagol is described as belonging to "hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the hobbit Stoors" (The Fellowship of the Ring, book 1, ch. 2 "The Shadow of the Past"); Stoors being one of the three kindreds of hobbits. In an appendix, Tolkien calls his relative Déagol (featured in the third film of the trilogy) a Stoor; therefore Sméagol must have been a Stoor himself. In a letter, Tolkien confirms that Gollum was a hobbit (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, #214).
  10. ^ Hartinger, Brent (27 April 2009). "Will The Hunt for Gollum Be as Cool as It Looks?". The Torch Online. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
  11. ^ Dollard, Emma (2009). "Interview with Chris Bouchard". Transformative Works and Cultures. 3. doi:10.3983/twc.2009.0168. ISSN 1941-2258.
  12. ^ The VFX crew
  13. ^ visual effects shots for the film
  14. ^ "Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hunt for Gollum, hits Futureworks". How-Do. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  15. ^ "Chris Bouchard: Film Director". Chris Bouchard. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  16. ^ Wallace, Lewis (24 April 2009). "Middle-Earth Looks Stunning in Hunt for Gollum". Wired News. Underwired blog. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  17. ^ "RT's Top 5 Fan Films". Rotten Tomatoes. 15 April 2009. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  18. ^ Reid, Robin Anne (2009). "The Hunt for Gollum: Tracking issues of fandom cultures". Transformative Works and Cultures. 3 (3). doi:10.3983/twc.2009.0162.

External linksEdit