Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 2, 2013

‘Coltellaro’ of Personality

Enter Jacksonville, Stage Right: Coltellaro, set worker on ‘The Hobbit’ and sister are 'kin to everybody and their daughter in Cherokee County.'

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Local fans of the 2012 fantasy adventure film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" might be interested to know one of the movie's set production personnel currently is visiting  town and considering moving here.

Roman Coltellaro, 23, formerly of New Zealand, and his sister are staying in Jacksonville visiting father Sky Coltellaro,  an American. Roman Coltellaro will be living here, at least until he gets his bearings and next assignment.

Look to see the young man's name under the helm of "Greensman" in the credits for that movie, based on the fantasy novel and children's book "The Hobbit" by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The film additionally serves as a follow-up to the “Lord Of The Rings” movie trilogy also adapted from Tolkien's work.

Last week, Roman Coltellaro, his father and sister Nikki, 25, (a resident of Tauranga, New Zealand) sat down with a Jacksonville Daily Progress reporter. The siblings spoke in very pronounced New Zealand “Kiwi” accents as they discussed their visit to East Texas and Roman Coltellaro's possible move here.

Should Roman Coltellaro decide to stay in Jacksonville, he certainly will have strong Cherokee County family ties, his father said. Roman Coltellaro's and his sister's paternal grandmother was Irma O. "Benge" Coltellaro, a longtime Jacksonville resident who died in 2007 at age 79.

"These two are kin to everybody and their dog in Cherokee County," said Sky Coltellaro with a strong Texas accent.

Nikki Coltellaro, incidentally, also has had a brush with the cinema – in the form of a recent New Zealand college commercial for which she modeled and spoke.

She technically is a Texas native. She was born in Dallas and taken to New Zealand when she was a year old.  Her mother was a nurse. Her father said he was a Dallas police officer at the time of the birth.

Roughly two years later, Roman Coltellaro was born in New Zealand.

As a Greensman, Roman Coltellaro works what is considered one of the least thankful and most strenuous jobs in set production.

He is one of the film set personnel charged with creating, obtaining and taking care of anything "green." This category includes plants, grass, trees, and flowers and other, more complex, objects.  On the set of “The Hobbit” he did a lot of work on the foundation for a fake stone bridge and collected materials for a bush.

It's busy work for him. He said counting the number of set assignments he's worked is difficult.

"Sorry, that's like counting the hairs on top of your head," he said with a grin in his sharp New Zealand accent. "You jump from set to set."

 In 2009, Roman Coltellaro performed “Greensman” tasks for the “Yogi Bear” 3-D movie.

Between March 2010 and June 2012 he did the same kind of work for “The Hobbit” –  including creating the famous "hobbit holes" and grass columns over houses.

Roman Coltellaro's last residence was picturesque Matamata, New Zealand, a town of about 6,000 where “The Hobbit” was filmed. The Matamata set has been left behind as a tourist attraction.

As someone completely immersed in "Greensman" set production, Roman Coltellaro said he doubts technology such as CGI will ever replace the need for his services.

Actors will always, for instance, have the need to feel the leaves around them in a forest scene. he said.

Incidentally, Roman Coltellaro met Peter Jackson briefly at a wrap party but said it was very anticlimactic.

"He was friendly enough, but it was one of those meetings where we only got a chance to talk for one or two seconds before he moved on to the next person," he said.