The last few days have seen a bunch of architects and structural engineers take the world by storm with their quest to build a real-life version of Minas Tirith in the UK. The campaign, entitled Realise Minas Tirith, is being run from crowdfunding site Indiegogo and at the time of publishing had raised £61,210 of the estimated £1.85 billion to make the project a reality. We caught up with the campaign’s leader, Jonathan Wilson, to hear how it’s going:
How did this come about?
I was participating in a Lord of the Rings marathon with a group of friends. When it finished, we enthused about the idea of crowdfunding real-life locations from the films. We settled on Minas Tirith, as we felt it represented the most realistic and sustainable project.
What were your expectations when you launched the project?
Obviously we realised that we’d never raise £1.85bn, but we were intrigued to see just how much interest a project like this would garner. During the first week we didn’t really receive any interest at all, but then the whole project seemed to blow up overnight. It started off as a bit of lighthearted fun, but if we meet our goal then we will definitely be taking this project seriously.
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. How long do you anticipate construction on Minas Tirith to take?
We hope, with the assistance of volunteer labour, to begin the project at the end of 2016 and finish it by 2023. Then again, orcs are notoriously lazy construction workers.
How many people do you estimate it will take to build Gondor’s capital city?
We hope to employ 750 staff on a full-time basis, and to bring this number up to over 1,000 with volunteers.
People can contribute in a number of different ways – what has been the most popular so far?
At £50 a pop, the “Plaque with your name” perk has proved the most popular thus far with 376 claimants. We’ve also received 13 pledges for £900, the reward for which is a night for two in the City of Kings. We value every contribution equally, though, and urge contributors to only give within their means.
In terms of city rule, in whose footsteps will you be following – Denethor or Aragorn’s?
Have you been in touch with Viggo Mortensen to see if he’s willing to rule your kingdom once it’s built?
No, but it’s only a matter of time until he gets in touch with us.
Are there plans to create a functioning Osgiliath to act as a barrier to potential invaders?
There are no plans currently in place, but we may have to reconsider that stance if this “enemy” crowdfunding campaign gains any traction.
If J.R.R. Tolkien were alive today, how do you think he would react?
Tolkien was quite a sensible, down-to-earth chap so I imagine he would probably deem the entire thing utterly ridiculous and a waste of everyone’s time and money!
With housing a key battleground in the most recent UK general election, have you received any political backing for this project?
No, although surely it’s only a matter of time until the Monster Raving Loony Party get wind of us and promote the campaign as their number one priority.