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Up Education

From South Seas Film School to The Rings of Power

07 Nov 2022

South Seas Film and Television School alumni joined a post-production panel discussion to share their industry experience working on Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power.’

Deemed the most expensive TV show of all time, The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before the events of JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ – with Season One filmed in New Zealand.

Held at New Zealand’s leading film and television tertiary provider, the panel discussion provided a unique opportunity for students to gain insight from some of the best in the business.

The panellists discussed what’s involved to stand out from the crowd in an industry that demands excellence, and how they landed a role on a big-time production like LOTR.

According to alumni, the South Seas motto ‘learn through action’ is the key to career progression in film and television production.

“Trial by fire roles that test your ability to perform under tight deadlines and budgets are what define your ability to land big productions like LOTR,” says Olivia Coupe, Assistant Editor.

Soft skills, which are a central focus at South Seas, are said to be important too.

“Passion and interpersonal skills will take you far. You’ll be spending over 10 hours with your production team at a time, so you want to be a joy to be around,” says Thomas Asche, Assistant Editor.

Jake Rice, Associate Producer/Post-Production Supervisor for LOTR, says South Seas alumni are among the best he was ever worked with: “I’ve worked on many large-scale projects in the USA, and I would choose the people on this stage to be on my team 100 times over.”

“The reason why I’ve chosen to stay in New Zealand for is because I think something really cool and unique is happening here.”

Filmed in 38 locations across Aotearoa, the LOTR series connected local industry to the global filmmaking scene – broadcasting the beautiful sights of New Zealand to over 100 million viewers.

With an influx of students seeking to join New Zealand’s burgeoning film community, there’s been an increasing demand for shorter and more industry-focused courses.

Gwendoline Taylor, Post-Supervisor for LOTR, says she decided to leave university to enrol at South Seas: “I decided to study at South Seas to focus on developing my practical skills – which led me to land a role with Sky TV straight after graduation, build my portfolio and be where I am today.”

Watch the full panel discussion

South Seas alumni that worked on LOTR: Rings of Power:

  • Molly McKinnon, Assistant Editor (2015 alumni)
  • Martin Paris, VFX Editor (2014 alumni)
  • Braden Miles, VFX Editor (2014 alumni)
  • Thomas Asche, Assistant Editor (2012 alumni)
  • Gwendoline Taylor, Post-Supervisor (2008 alumni)
  • Olivia Coupe, Assistant Editor (2005 alumni)

Other industry panellists included:

  • Cheryl Potter, Editor

The Martian, Alien: Covenant, Solo: A Star Wars Story. TV – The Alienist, Snowpiercer, Hanna, The Nevers

  • Jochen Fitzherbert, Editor

Ash vs Evil Dead, Mystic, The Gulf, Inside and Power Rangers: Ninja Steel, Dino Charge, RPM, Jungle Fury & Samurai

  • Allanah Bazzard, Additional Editor

One Lane Bridge, Fresh Eggs, Ash vs Evil Dead and Power Rangers: Beast Morphers

  • Jake Rice, Post-Producer

Time Bandits, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Legendary Pictures, Kong: Skull Island, Warcraft, Krampus, Godzilla & 42, Amblin Entertainment/Dreamworks, I Love You Man, Fright Night, Hotel for Dogs

  • Amu Webster, VFX Editor
  • Jason Smith, Music Editor
  • Peter Carson, Post Producer