i've been in a lot of situations due to filming a movie that i never thought i'd be in. today i can add "deep within a mine." walking in, it feels like the line to a rollercoaster at disney's "frontierland", going down a long rocky tunnel, except that it's actual rock all around you, and the wooden support beams actually prevent cave-ins. as we were loading our equipment in, there were the natural concerns: what is the possibility that we would become trapped in here? since there is a small generator working down the way, will we asphyxiate? if we awaken a balrog, then what?
it's a hard rock mine, not a soft coal mine, so no worries of cave ins; we've got a mine safety guy with an atmosphere monitor that beeps; and, while my balrog question was never addressed, i decided that if i saw the smoke and flame from the old world, i was running without a second thought.
it seemed that working in a mine was a new experience for most of the crew, young and old. and when i saw in the mine, i mean way the heck inside the mountain. after a few hundred feet straight it, the entrance behind you is only a small speck of light at the end of the tunnel. but the path continues on, over rail tracks that have since been leveled with dirt. there were iron doors for the antiquated power rooms, with porcelain brackets mounted in the wall to carry the electric wiring, and old shaft lifts and gutters still hang off to the sides of the tunnels. and while they look great, it's amazing to remember that they are not the worl of a good set designer, but were actually used a century before. following a bend in the track leads to a large cavern, where the rock slopes down into darkness on one side, while while a wooden slope leads up to a second story, where an old wooden structure still stands, with a second ramp leading back down. another few hundred feet leads to a second cavern, where we spent the day shooting.
all in all, i'd guess we were half a mile into the mountain, only because, coming out after we'd wrapped, that's a very long walk once the novelty has worn off and your steel-toed wal-mart boots are feeling heavy.
i wrote this post one night, with the intention of rewriting it again later. i must be equally tired, because it seems fine the way it is.