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Interview: Director J.A. Bayona Discusses Crafting the Atmosphere of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’

Director J.A. Bayona is no stranger to the land of fantasy and the supernatural, having previously helmed films like A Monster Calls and The Orphanage. Having directed a massive blockbuster like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also helped him tackle the first two episodes of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which will be historically known as the most expensive television series of all time. While speaking to Awards Radar on a virtual press day, Bayona described constructing a show with such a massive scale and elaborate action sequences inside a TV schedule as extremely challenging. His previous franchise filmmaking experience was incredibly helpful, even if The Rings of Power is shown on a different medium than Jurassic World. (Full video interview, below.)

“It was very challenging [to figure out] how we could feed those massive set pieces that take so much time to prepare and shoot and then go on the post-production schedule of a TV show. However, I’m glad that Amazon had the ambition to create something that was not television in the traditional sense. Television has changed significantly over the past ten years, and it takes time to prepare, shoot, and do the post-production process. All my previous experience was very helpful in doing something like this.”

Sophia Nomvete, Morfydd Clark, J.A. Bayona, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Owain Arthur and Peter Mullan attend The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power FYC Prime Experience at Citizen News in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, May 7, 2023 (Photo: Benjamin Shmikler/ABImages)

Bayona has been a long-time fan of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s world since he read The Lord of the Rings as a kid and explains that “when you read the books, you can tell how massive it is. At the same time, you can tell how rich and detailed the world of Tolkien is. For this show, the secret is to focus on the small details and then use the landscape to increase the psychology and how you can tell the story of these characters. We use visual language to tell every single detail of the story through the landscape, colors, and textures. However, the characters that Tolkien created from the books were a very good guide for this show.”

In crafting the show’s visual language, Bayona collaborated once again with his long-time friend Óscar Faura. He was the perfect fit to craft the show’s visual look because Bayona knew “how much he loves beauty. Every frame he does is so beautiful. I knew he was perfect for this world because beauty is crucial in Tolkien’s world. He always talks about big ideas: the good and the bad, darkness and light, the ugly and beauty. It’s very much like reading fairy tales. Oscar is perfect at creating these atmospheres for beauty, and the darkness we created in movies like The Orphanage and A Monster Calls.”

In the video interview below, you’ll find all of these topics and more, including setting the tone and atmosphere for the show by directing the first two episodes, the challenges of distancing yourself from what came before, and his favorite scenes to shoot. You can check out the full video below and see all episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video:

[Some of the quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity]


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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