July 01, 2004

"And in the Darkness Bind Them"

image copyright Fred First

Peter Jackson, director of LOTR, has this thing about spiders. Especially funnel-web spiders:

"I've got a real fear of spiders; I guess I have arachnophobia. Ever since I was a kid, spiders have freaked me out. There is a spider in New Zealand called a Tunnel Web spider, which is a common New Zealand spider but a very nasty, fat, pudgy one that lives in gardens.

Ever since I was a kid, I have been terrified of coming across these things. You find them under old bricks and old logs and leaves and such. It is a very evil-looking spider; it's small--about an inch and a half long. About three weeks ago, we had a Shelob design meeting, and I looked at the designs and said, "You know, we have to make this look more like the Tunnel Web. She has to be more like this horrible spider."

For thirty minutes I sat in the sun beside the rock wall, just barely off the gravel road in front of the house, waiting for the sun to dim so the light would to be less contrasty; waiting for the resident spider to venture back out where, if I was oh so slow and careful, I could catch her at the lip of the dark depths of her deadly funnel.

Didn't happen. I could see her in there, way down at the base of the tube, but short of Photoshopping some beady eyes into the underexposed dungeon, we have the set without the actor. I tried again the next day. With the least movement of light against shadow, the proprietess of the lair becomes camera-shy, tiny Shelob, who sits on her front porch waiting for dinner guests to drop in.

Posted by fred1st at July 1, 2004 07:03 AM | TrackBack

I lived in Australia and NZ and you don't fool around with funnel webs ...many species are deadly, especially for a child sized victim.

Most Aussies and Kiwis get the full-on bogeyman treatment to discourage them from picking up spiders and Aussie children learn not to approach ANY snake.

To this day I can't comfortably walk in ankle deep grass and I was raised in rattler country and don't have a fear of snakes.

So I can understand Jackson's fear of Shelob.

Posted by: feste at July 1, 2004 03:45 PM

You know -- Photoshopping in some eyes might be interesting. Walking through the woods in the morning, I collect all kinds of webs.

Posted by: Terry at July 1, 2004 04:47 PM

As an Aussie, I repeat Feste's comments that you don't fool with funnel webs. They can jump and their fangs can pierce boot leather. They can also live at the bottom of a swimming pool for weeks. We now have an antivenene developed for them. Snakes and the rest of most of ur many venomous creatures don't bother me, although I suspect that if I lived where blue ringed octopus live, I would be wary about sea swimming.

Posted by: Jan at July 1, 2004 06:26 PM

Yeah, but Australian critters are all insanely toxic! Here in eastern North America, funnel spiders are harmless. And shy. My eight year-old niece discovered how to lure them out - if briefly: drop a small ant onto the web. For photographic purposes, it would probably help to have an assistant so you'd be poised and ready with your finger on the shutter.

Posted by: Dave at July 1, 2004 11:19 PM

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