Making the Mortal Engines Movie

News, views, quotes and trivia about Philip Reeve's 'Mortal Engines' books and the Peter Jackson movie production.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

LOTR artist John Howe reveals he is a concept designer for Mortal Engines

John Howe raven design sketch


Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers are sure keeping things 'in the family' with the production of Mortal Engines.

Famed Lord of the Rings movie concept designer John Howe has revealed that he recently spent 9 weeks in Wellington, New Zealand drawing designs for the Mortal Engines film.

If you were wondering, Howe is considered to Lord of the Rings as Ralph McQuarrie is to Star Wars.

While doing promotional work for his Paris art showcase at the Galerie Arludi, he's been quoted by Premiere as saying:

Premiere: You've worked on Peter Jackson's two trilogies and on the first film, The World of Narnia. Why did not you work more for the cinema?

Howe: "Because I was not asked ... There I have just spent nine weeks on the preparatory drawings of Mortal Engines in New Zealand, the new production of Peter Jackson. The world of novels is extraordinary, very astonishing. It's steampunk, it gets me out of my usual battlements."

Bear in mind, that's a Google translation from French!

Here's some more on working Howe with Christian Rivers:

Premiere: How did you work with Jackson on Mortal Engines ?

Howe: "I have not seen it ! Finally, just ten seconds, he went into the office ... He said, "What are you doing here?" The Hobbit is over! " (Laughs) I worked mostly with the director. I had a rather limited role. I had to explore an environment in nine weeks, that is very little time. I was doing concept sets, parts of the world of Mortal Engines. I can not tell you what. Sorry."

So no details revealed but it sounds like he's probably been doing landscapes and structures (depending on how one defines 'environment' we guess) but it's great to know that the production is using the talent that helped make Lord of the Rings such a wondrous realm.

This statement also gives a great insight into how Peter and Christian are working together - Peter is clearly letting Christian get on with making the movie and making his own decisions, giving him his own breathing space.

It's actually probably a lot like how Jackson produced District 9 but Neill Blomkamp was allowed to find and realize his own vision.

I could be wrong but I think this is also the first time someone officially connected with the production has mentioned the word 'steampunk' in regards to the design and look of the movie. Jackson certainly said nothing about it when he announced the movie.

Check out this book, Myth and Magic: The Art of John Howe if you want more insight into JOhn's design work and why he was picked by Peter Jackson to help with LOTR. 

Here's the promotional poster for Howe's exhibition.

john howe poster for exhibition

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