Handler didn't aim to 'tarnish' The Hobbit
Thu, 22 Nov 2012 8:37a.m.
By 3 News online staff
An animal handler who worked on The Hobbit says he never meant to tarnish the film’s reputation.
John Smythe was a handler on the Wellington farm where animals for The Hobbit were kept and supports claims that about 26 animals died from maltreatment.
It has been alleged that five horses, a pony, and several goats, sheep and chickens were maimed or killed at the farm during the movie’s production.
He was dismissed from the job in October last year and told the New Zealand Herald it was because he refused to keep quiet about the treatment of the animals, and did not get along with his manager’s wife.
But Mr Smythe says it was not his intention to harm the reputation of The Hobbit, he was just angry about the conditions on the farm.
“I never intended to tarnish the movie or Peter Jackson,” he told the Herald. “But I couldn’t stand by and let the same thing keep happening.”
However the Herald reports his colleagues at the farm say Mr Smythe’s behaviour towards the animals was unacceptable.
They described him kicking a pig in the head and using spurs on the horses.
“He has been intimidating, threatening, and I have feared for my safety,” a female colleague stated.
But Mr Smythe denies this behaviour.
“It’s all lies. There was no threatening behaviour, no abuse of animals on my behalf.”
A spokesman for trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson on Monday acknowledged that horses, goats, chickens and one sheep died at the farm near Wellington where about 150 animals were housed for the movies, but he said some of the deaths were from natural causes.
The spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, agreed that the deaths of two horses were avoidable, and said the production company moved quickly to improve conditions after they died.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first movie in the planned US$500 million trilogy, will launch with a red-carpet premiere November 28 in Wellington and will open at theatres in the US and around the world in December.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says it will hold protests at three of the world premieres.
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23/11/2012 3:29:01 a.m.
Everyone making these accusations have been liars. If this guy was so concerned, why didn't he go to an animals protection agency himself at the time? And why did he wait over a year after the issues had been corrected to go to the press?
Now PETA picked it up, but their story keeps changing:
"One miniature horse was housed with larger, high-strung horses who trampled him. A second horse was placed in a partially fenced area that bordered a cliff with a sharp drop to a river below; the horse was found dead at the bottom of the cliff. The third horse died from unexplained causes, possibly related to feed."
"Two horses died after breaking their necks on the set after they were run off embankments, while another was left for over three hours with its legs tied together. Goats and sheep died from worm infestations and falling into sinkholes while unprotected chickens were killed by dogs."
And why are the picketing The Hobbit premiere when they should be picketing the farm where the supposed abuses took place?
Peter Jackson & Co have acted in open good faith through this entire thing, and I find it hard to believe that a company that took such good care of their horses during LOTR would deliberately place them in danger for this production. This has been nothing but the attempt of a disgruntled ex-employee and a hypocritical extremist "animal rights" group to ride the coattails of The Hobbit media frenzy into the spotlight.
23/11/2012 12:13:29 a.m.
I know john and he is definitely not a troublemaker or a bully.. And believe him when he says he was worried about the welfare of the animals... Anyone who knows him will tell you the same...
The truth will come out.. I do not think Sir Peter has much to answer for but i think the production crew do... John has just been used as a scapegoat.. Kia kaha hone, tautoko to mahi hard!
22/11/2012 10:49:35 a.m.
So what did he intend? As if it wouldn't cause a problem for them!!!!
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