Many of you will know that Royd Tolkien, great-grandson of the Professor, is currently in New Zealand. He’s completing a ‘bucket list’ of activities left for him by his brother, Mike, who sadly died from ALS (also known as MND) in 2015. Mike was an adrenaline junkie; Royd, by his own admission, is most definitely not. His brother’s list, therefore, is a challenge for Royd, and will see him facing fears and undertaking all kinds of adventures on his mission – quest – thing…
All Royd’s exploits are being filmed for a documentary, There’s a Hole in my Bucket. You can find out more about it in this video: [click here]. Royd says, “It is a journey of discovery and inspiration,” intended “to remind people how precious and important life is and to make every second count.”
Those of you lucky enough to be in Wellington next week can join Royd on Wednesday, 12 April, at the Roxy Cinema in Miramar. At ‘An Evening with Royd Tolkien‘, you’ll hear him talk about his experiences completing his fifty
Auction item: full orc head prosthetic made by Weta Workshop
challenges (which should mostly be done by next week). You will also have the chance to bid in a fabulous auction, with none other than Jed Brophy as the star auctioneer! Today, Royd announced that one of the amazing items up for grabs is a genuine Weta Workshop full Orc Head prosthetic, made for one of Royd’s challenges (see left). What an amazing addition that would make to any Middle-earth collection! Other auction items include a Gandalf statue signed by Peter Jackson himself, and pieces signed by Richard Taylor.
And the good news is – even if you aren’t in New Zealand, you can still participate in the auction! If you check out the Facebook event page [here] you’ll find an email address for Jodie, the event coordinator. To place an absentee bid on any of the auction items, we’re told you can simply send Jodie an email, and she’ll send you the Absentee Bidding Form, which lists all the auction items, reserve prices, and any the information you may need. If you’re an avid Tolkien collector, an art fan, a wine connoisseur, a foodie, or even a keen sailor, you’ll find something to please on the incredible list of auction items. Check out the event page, contact Jodie, and grab yourself an extraordinary treasure!
The event is a fundraiser for MND New Zealand. Details on how to buy tickets to attend are on the event page. If you’d like to know more about MND New Zealand, or support them, click here.
Be sure to let us know if you attend the event – we’d love to hear all about it!
Adding to the list of rich foreigners who are buying land in New Zealand is singing sensation Justin Bieber. Fresh off a tour of NZ, during which he tweeted his love for the place, the ultimate Bielieber has entered negotiations to buy a substantial tract of land at Glenorchy, near Queenstown. The property includes various film sites from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, and is where many Lothlorien scenes were shot.
“What the world doesn’t know is that Justin is a massive Lord of the Rings fan – but the movies only, not really the books which he’s never read,” says a source close to the singer. “Although he knows about Tom Bombadil, he thinks he’s hilarious. He’s seen some Bombadil fan videos online and he wants to create his own, but using these woods that appeared in the films.
“His plans are to build a replica of the horse-people hall and hold big Middle-earth parties exclusively for his friends – but he’ll likely want some local ring-ins as character props, so anyone who looks really hobbity will have a good shot at being invited.”
Bieber spent a few days in Queenstown after his concert in Auckland before jetting off to South America to continue his Purpose World Tour. The source added: “I can say for a fact that he was overheard having several phone conversations with a “PJ.” Whether that was ‘the’ Peter Jackson, I can’t really say. I just know the conversations definitely mentioned Bombadil, something called the Sil-merryland, and roles of interest to JayBee.”
Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien will recognize that the ‘Sil-merryland’ almost certainly refers to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, an epic compilation of stories recounting, in part, the struggle of the peoples of Middle-earth against the dark lord Morgoth. “Getting the film rights was apparently going to be a major hurdle” said the source. “‘Impossible’ and ‘a real long shot’ were overheard quite often.” But apparently Justin hopes to use his considerable influence to sweet-talk some of the members of the Tolkien family and Tolkien Estate who are huge fans, and devoted Bieliebers, to release at least limited rights to some of the Silmarillion stories.
Regarding possible roles for Bieber, one can only guess. Given that his physique doesn’t lend itself to playing the rotund Tom Bombadil, and Bombadil doesn’t appear in The Silmarillion anyway, fans can only speculate that it would have to refer to some other major role. Given Justin’s rather elfin features, the roles of the heroic Fingolfin, or even the proud Feanor come to mind. The mention of “growing acceptance of gender neutrality trends” was reportedly also overheard by our source, so the roles of Luthien or Melian can’t be ruled out completely.
Meanwhile, if the Queenstown land purchase goes ahead, the Mayor of Queenstown Lakes District has promised to name Bieber as an official inhabitant of Middle-earth. “I’m sure I can get Peter Jackson down here to dub him with a replica of Anduril – the guy owes me a favour for having to muck up all the horse poo he left behind after filming the charge of the Rohirrim,” says the Mayor.
Christopher Tolkien, known to all fans and scholars of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien as the devoted son who brought many of his father’s previously unpublished works to light, is to become a recipient of the 2017 Bodley Medal. The award, which includes past laureates David Attenborough and Stephen Hawking, honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of communication and literature.
Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, said: “Christopher Tolkien’s contribution as a scholar and editor has been immense. Without his dedication and commitment, his father’s works would not have reached such a broad public audience and without his erudition and scholarship J R R Tolkien’s work would not have been presented so fully and with such authority.”
Christopher Tolkien said: “Although I have never looked for anything remotely of such a kind, I find it especially welcome to receive the Bodley Medal in that it affirms the unique significance of my father’s creation and accords a worthy place in the Republic of Letters to Tolkien scholarship. It gives me particular pleasure that the award comes from and is conceived by the Bodleian, where a great part of my father’s manuscripts lie and where I have happy memories of the great library itself.”
According to the Bookseller article, The Bodleian is planning a major Tolkien exhibition for 2018; something to put on all of our calendars!
TheOneRing.net wishes to congratulate Christopher on this well-deserved award, and express our thanks for the many hours, days and years of painstaking attention and care dedicated to furthering our enjoyment of his and his father’s works.
The Haywood Society’s touring exhibition, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien – Soldier recruitment and Myth Maker’ launches at the Museum of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, UK, March 7th to April 24th.
This fascinating exhibition focuses on Tolkien’s time in Staffordshire during the First World War. It will include ‘Original artwork, of domestic scenes and landscapes, which has not returned to Staffordshire since it left with Tolkien in 1918 … [as well as] photographs specially loaned by The Tolkien Estate and Bodleian Library.’
‘During the Great War Second Lieutenant J. R. R. Tolkien of the Lancashire Fusiliers was stationed in Staffordshire, first at Whittington Heath, near Lichfield, next at a musketry camp at Newcastle-under-Lyme, then at Rugeley and Brocton Camps on Cannock Chase. After his marriage in March 1916 Tolkien’s wife came to live in Great Haywood so that she could be close to him. Tolkien regularly visited Edith in the village until he was posted to France in June 1916.
Tolkien returned to Great Haywood in early December 1916 to recover from his traumatic experiences at the Somme. He lived with Edith in a cottage there until late February 1917 and during this time created his first mythological stories, in part inspired by Staffordshire landscapes and experiences.
After a brief posting to East Yorkshire, Tolkien returned to Staffordshire in 1918 and lived in a cottage at Gipsy Green, Teddesley Park, near Penkridge, where other important work was undertaken.’
How time flies! Exactly a year ago today, February 21st 2015, many of us gathered in Hollywood for The One Last Party. Fans and TheOneRing.net staffers were joined by movie cast and crew members, brought together by a love of Tolkien and of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth trilogies. Many more fans around the world tuned in to watch TORn’s live stream coverage, led by staffers Quickbeam and Justin. Bruce Hopkins (Gamling) acted as MC for the night, PJ himself sent a special video greeting, and the Professor’s great-grandson Royd Tolkien came all the way from Britain for the celebration. Partygoers danced the night away to the music of Emerald Rose and William Kircher’s group The California Dreamers. It was indeed a night to remember!
Staffer Mithril posted recently about the beautiful Red Book she made, containing the names of all who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign to make The One Last Party happen; this lovely book was sent to Sir Peter as a ‘thank you’ from all of us to whom his movies have meant so much. In another look back to that wonderful night a year ago, here are just a few moments captured from that night, and put together by film maker and TORn friend Dan McBride. Let’s reminisce – and hope that it isn’t really the last such event. We may yet have an excuse, one day, for an unexpected party…
You know what Bilbo had to say about adventures: ‘Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!’ But Professor Tolkien’s own great-grandson, Royd Tolkien, is ignoring all that Bilbo had to say and taking the plunge into a significant adventure of his own!
Royd very sadly lost his younger brother, Mike, earlier this year. Mike had ALS, also known as Motor Neurone Disease, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Royd had to watch his active, thrill-seeking brother succumb to a terrible disease, for which there is currently no cure.
But Mike left Royd a legacy – a ‘bucket list’ of fifty challenges for the much more Bilbo-like (ie less thrill-seeking, more cake-and-tea-enjoying!) older brother Royd to undertake. And Royd is going to fulfil that list, with the help of none other than actor Jed Brophy, surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Middle-earth – by which I mean, of course, New Zealand.
This is a remarkable quest, and one which you will be able to see – because Royd is going to make a film of his adventures! Read more about the amazing journey the Professor’s great-grandson has ahead of him at Royd’s website, here. You can also get involved, support Royd on his odyssey, and maybe grab yourself a pretty amazing perk with some Middle-earth cast or crew (including Richard Taylor and folks at Weta!) – learn more here.
It’s a dangerous business, going out your front door – especially when you have no idea what challenges your little brother has left, to test, stretch and possibly humiliate you! Here at TORn we wish Royd every success, and joyful travels; and we honour the memory of Mike, of TORn’s friend Mel, who also sailed into the West far too early, and to all who battle ALS.
As you know, last week a select group of fans in London were treated to a screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition. Some pretty special guests were in attendance – we hope many of you were able to watch via the live stream!
The organisers behind the event have sent us along this report:
“On Saturday, 7th November 2015, a number of the world’s biggest and most passionate fans of TheHobbitfilm trilogy assembled in London for a very special screening event, where they were joined by a host of special guests, to celebrate the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital release, and to commemorate the one-year anniversary of last year’s incredible The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest competition. The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release is the final film in the globally popular The Hobbit Trilogy, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
Kyle Pedley of (A)musings Media, who was among the UK-based winners of the global fan competition, organised and hosted the event along with fellow members of The Hobbit Fan Fellowship, with help from Warner Bros. Pictures UK and Tourism New Zealand. International winners flew in from all over the globe – from as far afield as the United States, Mexico and Eastern Europe – to take part in an evening full of surprises and special appearances.
Guests were not only treated to an exclusive UK screening of the Extended Edition of The Hobbit Trilogy’s epic conclusion at Warner Bros. Pictures’ own private screening theatre ahead of its home entertainment release, but were also treated to surprises including a video message from director Sir Peter Jackson all the way from New Zealand, and a Q&A session with a panel of distinguished guests.
These included Royd Tolkien, great-grandson of author J.R.R. Tolkien and long-time advocate and supporter of the film adaptations (who made a cameo appearance in 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and writer / broadcaster Brian Sibley, who has long been involved in the community celebrating the author’s legacy, having been jointly responsible for the acclaimed 1981 BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and penning a number of official behind-the-scenes books and guides for both of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth trilogies. Finally, to the excitement and disbelief of fans – met with an uproarious standing ovation – came the surprise appearance of film, theatre and television icon Sir Ian McKellen, known and beloved around the world for his defining portrayal of the Wizard Gandalf in Jackson’s Middle-earth and the only principle cast member to appear in all six films across both celebrated film trilogies.
Other special guests in attendance included a contingent of Middle-earth ‘cosplayers’ – The Galactic Knights, who showcased some of their terrific Hobbit- and Rings-inspired costumes and replicas; Chairman of The Tolkien Society, Shaun Gunner; and Rachel Sprackett of Tourism New Zealand.
Kyle Pedley, The Hobbit Fan Fellowship member and host of the event, said:
“This was an incredible, unprecedented celebration of the impact both these films and also last year’s incredible competition have had on people from all corners of the globe. To have such a dedicated group of fans, who last year formed their own genuine fellowship over the course of a magical week in New Zealand, reunite for this special occasion was just an absolute joy to behold and be part of. To be joined by the likes of Royd Tolkien, Brian Sibley and Sir Ian McKellen, and have such a fantastic personal video message from Sir Peter Jackson over in New Zealand, was an absolute thrill and honour. The guests were not aware or expecting any of it, and their reactions to not only the surprises, but also getting to see one another again, were a moving reminder of how indelible and genuine the bonds of fellowship formed in New Zealand really were.”
The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest was an international search conducted in 2014 by Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Warner Bros. to find 75 of the world’s biggest Hobbit fans. Over 140,000 people registered for the competition, and over a two month period were required to complete a series of tasks and challenges, including testing their knowledge of New Zealand as the cinematic Middle-earth, designing a postcard for Peter Jackson, and also producing their own two-minute videos detailing their favourite memories of Middle-earth and demonstrating why they were the biggest fans of the franchise.
The winners and their +1s were then flown to New Zealand for an incredible, all-expenses paid trip which spanned both Islands and included visits to the actual filming locations from the movies, a special tour of the Hobbiton Set itself in Matamata, a special Maori Cultural welcome ceremony and Hangi Banquet, a visit to Weta Workshop where all of the creatures, costumes, weapons and special effects of the Middle Earth films were made, and finally a private screening of the final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in the company of Peter Jackson himself, over a month before its theatrical release.”
An important, and frankly amazing Tolkien document has emerged, recently discovered loose in a copy of The Lord of the Rings once owned by illustrator Pauline Baynes.
The Guardian reports that Baynes removed the map from a previous version of the novel as she was working on a then new color map for a new edition that was published in 1970.
The map then had “copious” notes made by J.R.R. Tolkien in green ink and pencil. Baynes then made her own notes on the map. It is essentially a map annotated by Tolkien himself.
Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.
Corner of Blackwell’s Tolkien map
According to Blackwell’s, it displays “the exacting nature” of the author and his creative process. He fixes names, gives additional names and reveals details such as Hobbiton “is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford,” where Tolkien was, of course, a professor.
Blackwell’s also claims that Tolkien wrote “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith – a key location in the third book of the Lord of The Rings trilogy.” There are other real-world references as well.
“Before going on display in the shop this week, this had only ever been in private hands (Pauline Baynes’s for the majority of its existence). One of the points of interest is how much of a hand Tolkien had in the poster map; all of his suggestions, and there are many (the majority of the annotation on the map is his), are reflected in Baynes’s version,” said Henry Gott, a rare books expert at Blackwell’s.
We’ve just heard the sad news of the passing of Royd’s brother Mike who has been battling ALS (Motor Neurone Disease).
Royd posted this moving tribute to his brother on his facebook page.
On Wednesday morning, my loving, handsome, devoted brother, Mike, peacefully passed away.
From the moment he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease/ALS he faced it head on, clenched his fists and battled. He took my breath away every single day with his strength and courage.
For 4 years I’ve been strong while silently weeping, now I’ve lost the comfortable feeling that he’ll be around forever and I’m heartbroken.
Every part of me, everything around me, anything I ever did and will ever do is connected to him and I desperately miss him. I’ve lost my friend and my reason and I will never be whole again.
I was privileged to have the honour of being his brother.
From everyone here at theonering.net, our love, prayers and best wishes are with you.
Tonight in the heart of Wales a very special event happened that brought together the family scions of Tolkien while also raising money for ALS; which by way of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge became one of the notable internet phenomena of 2014. Motor Neurone Disease touches closely on the family, as Royd Tolkien’s brother Mike struggles with its effects. (more…)
Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Shaun Gunner, Chairman of The Tolkien Society. We discussed what he thinks of the Peter Jackson films and where he sees the Tolkien Society heading to in the 21st Century. And because he said he didn’t mind answering some silly questions, I just couldn’t resist putting grammaboodawg’s favourite question from our Getting to know you Q&A’s to him.
Note: MrCere here. ImladrisRose wrote this immediately after the convention but became very ill after getting home — very ill. So, after delivery, it took me a little bit to get it posted. She is on the mend and this is a major relief. Thanks for all your hard work IR! We do all wish you health and happiness. She also took many more photos and included more to post but technical issues made that impossible but we may upload some later.
BONN — TORn staffers MrCere and ImladrisRose traveled to Bonn, Germany to attend HobbitCon2 over Easter weekend. While the journey was long, the excitement at the final destination made it very much worthwhile.
HobbitCon is convention bred for a single purpose, to destroy every other con that came before. HobbitCon is all things “The Hobbit”, as if the title didn’t give it away. It is a kaleidoscope of Hobbity goodness, a gaggle of dwarves, masters in the film industry, a real life Tolkien and fans who’s boundless enthusiasm is something that has always made this particular fandom so stupendous! As someone who has been to conventions all around the US featuring so many different people involved in the Tolkien universe, HobbitCon was a completely unique, exhilarating experience. Not only was it packed with talks, workshops, lectures and unique experiences, but because everything took place at the Maritim Hotel in Bonn, the nightlife at this con made every other con I’ve been to seem well, lame!
HobbitCon 2, Bonn, Germany
Taking place over the course of three days, HobbitCon is truly an event in which even the most die hard Tolkien fans that think they’ve heard it all will hear stories and take on experiences that will stay with them forever. The atmosphere of the con was very laid back, it felt very much as if Hobbits themselves were in charge because there was a constant feeling of camaraderie and all the good feelings of home amongst the guests and fans alike. This love infused environment allowed for everyone in attendance to truly immerse themselves in their time at the con and to feel fully relaxed, but most importantly, not to feel judged for who they are or where they come from or who has a better Thranduil costume. Everyone in attendance was cut from the same cloth and this feeling of uniqueness combined with similarity made everyone feel like family by the end. As people were saying goodbye to one another, tears were being shed. Beautiful.
The fans at HobbitCon would not have had the incredible experience that they had if it were not for the absolute warmth and sincerity that oozed from each and every featured guest, including all of the actors. Never I have witnessed such an effort put forth from an events featured guests to make the fans feel so important and to take the time to have unique and memorable interactions at every possible turn. I remember seeing a woman dressed as Dwalin walking down the halls and Graham McTavish made a beeline for her and told her what a great job she did on her costume, He didn’t have to do that, but he did it because he wanted to. This again, is such an ode to the marvelous gift that Peter Jackson and co have for bringing the most awesome people on board to work on these films. It really says a lot.
HobbitCon2 had an enormous amount of awesome guests which include but are not limited to: Ken Stott “Balin”, Adam Brown “Ori”, William Kircher “Bifur”, Stephen Hunter “Bombur”, Mark Hadlow “Dori”, Dean O’Gorman “Fili”, Peter Hambleton “Gloin”, Jed Brophy “Nori”, John Callen “Oin” and Graham McTavish “Dwalin”. Also in attendance were: Sir Richard Taylor, Royd Tolkien (great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien), Mark Atkin (stunt/scale double for Richard Armitage) and our very own Larry D. Curtis.
SAMSTAG 19 April, 2014
Saturday was opening day for HobbitCon. Last year was the first HobbitCon so guests from the previous year had very high expectations, and from what I gathered, no one was disappointed! The Opening Ceremonies took place in the evening, but there were many exciting talks and panels before hand. First up was a talk featuring Mark Hadlow “Dori” and Stephen Hunter “Bombur”. The banter between these two was fabulous as they eagerly answered questions from fans. Mark even had an interesting exchange with some of the set/stage decorations that looked to be either Ringwraiths or cloaked Elves! Up next was none other than Sir Richard Taylor, who walked out to a standing ovation, is the best public speaker I have ever encountered. His steadfast encouragement for people to follow their dreams is a true inspiration. After that was a hilarious talk featuring William Kircher “Bifur”, John Callen “Oin” and Peter Hambleton “Gloin”. They were such a hilarious trio and the fans simply adored them. Adam Brown “Ori” and Dean O’Gorman “Fili” were up next and out of all of the featured guests; those two seemed to always get the biggest reaction from the crowd. Their personalities are contagious and while they both told great stories, my favorite would have to be the one Dean told where he got stuck in a neighbor’s mailbox and the fire department had to rescue him. My favorite fan question was when they were asked how they would eventually propose to their respective girlfriends, to which they both acted it out which eventually led to Adam passionately kissing Dean. Shenanigans. The fans simply adore those two, frankly it is impossible not to.
TORn’s first panel of the con “A Not So Official View at the Hobbit” began right after Adam and Dean’s panel. The room was filled with curious fans, many of which follow TORn but quite a few who were just learning about us! That was great to see, as I am sure that those who were just hearing about TORn would be following us in no time at all. Larry did a great job and many fans were engaged in asking questions. Great job MrCere! My sole purpose for going to HobbitCon was to do what I do best, take pictures so that I can have a more enticing article for TORn, I did not talk for any of our presentations, I work best behind a camera. ☺
After a very short recess, the Opening Ceremonies began. HobbitCon is hosted by none other than Mr. Mark Ferguson (who you may know as “Gil-Galad” from LOTR). Mark is such a joy and his charisma made the event that much more charming. The sheer spectacle of the opening ceremonies has no rival in the convention world; it is its own animal and is something to truly be marveled at. The stage is filled with ever changing lights, cloaked figures, a large screen for better viewing of the speakers, and even a to scale Hobbit hole! After Mark did his introduction he introduced each speaker and panelist, the people who ran the various workshops and ended with introducing the events cast of characters who were met with boisterous applause from the audience who was on their feet cheering in excitement. Ken Stott received the loudest cheers from the fans, it was his first ever convention!
Once the opening ceremonies were complete all the fans were ready to mix and mingle, as were all of the featured guests. The entire first floor of the Maritim is filled with lounge spaces, bars and dance floors. This is where the party was every single night of the con. On this particular night, the music was to the tune of oldies until about 10pm then the modern dance music came on. The films stars did not stay segregated in their own space, no, quite the opposite! They were interacting with fans at the bar, dancing on the dance floor, having real conversations about real life things (not just the books or films). These conversations were filled with a mutual respect and a sense of humanity that is rare in the world of conventions, but again that is a testament to the people in attendance, both guests and fans. It was such a welcoming atmosphere and such a joy to see such pure of heart interactions taking place. For me, the highlight of the night was seeing Dean O’Gorman and Stephen Hunter rip up the dance floor doing the moves to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” dance. One of the highlights of my life, really. Most of our dwarven company took a spin on the dance floor, and that was what was so wonderful. How many times in your life do you get to dance with dwarves in Germany? If you go to HobbitCon, it is very likely to happen since it did every single night this time around.
SONTAGG 20 April, 2014
Sunday kicked off with our second TORn panel “New Zealand is Middle Earth” done once again by MrCere. This panel seemed to be the best received by the fans, probably due to the beautiful imagery associated with the talk showcasing New Zealand in all its glory. The afternoon brought talks from many of the films stars in a variety of combinations. Each panel brought many laughs and a great deal of insight to both the on set experiences and the lives of our beloved dwarven company.
There were two standout panels on Sunday. One of which was given by Royd Tolkien (great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien). The audience was fully engaged and hanging on to every word he said, his charm captivated the audience and it was an honor to have had him there. He is so respected within the community and it was great to see that in person. The second stand out for me would be the talk given by Mark Atkin (Richard Armitage’s scale/stunt double). His raw enthusiasm, not just for what he does, but also for it being his first convention, was wonderful and it was fascinating hearing his stories throughout the weekend. His perspective of working on these films is a welcome addition to any con as most of the featured guests at conventions are the more well known players, however Mark’s role in the films is a vital part in the creation of that universe, so hearing a unique perspective was both refreshing and fascinating.
One of the huge draws to attending an event like this is the chance to meet and greet with your favorite star/filmmaker. Part of that opportunity means that you also have the chance to have your photo taken with one of the stars or get their autograph. The photo ops and autographs are an additional fee besides your ticket to the event, but it is always worth the experience, especially if your favorite character is there! These photo and autograph opportunities were taking place throughout the entire event at specific designated times. I witnessed fans shrieking in delight upon receiving their photo. Again, the constant enthusiasm of Tolkien fans is something I am so happy to be a part of and one of the many reasons I love this community so much.
Early evening brought the conventions costume competition! Of all of the events I have been to, this convention had some of the most incredibly detailed costumes I have ever seen. The expert craftsmanship and the time that went into these stupendous creations is something to be marveled at. The costume contest had a panel of expert judges making all of the decisions! This panel included: Royd Tolkien, William Kircher, Jed Brophy, Sadwyn Brophy, and Sir Richard Taylor! The panel’s kindness and enthusiasm towards all of the contestants was so sweet and endearing. While there were many fabulous entries into the contest, my favorite was a Bilbo and Smaug duo. The Smaug costume was both unique and intricate, such a lovely interpretation. The winners of the contest were an exquisite pair of Thruandil’s, a Thorin so perfect you would’ve sworn that it was Richard Armitage himself in full costume and a perfect pairing of Bilbo and Smaug.
After the festivities of the costume contest wore down and many a photograph was taken of the splendor surrounding the work of these fabulous artisans, a panel took place in which Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Dean O’Gorman, Adam Brown and Stephen Hunter had the crowd in stitches of laughter the entire time. The fans were asking questions that led to stories being told in pure hilarity. One fan asked to hear the story of each of their worst professional working experiences, and all of their answers were hilarious, although Adam’s story takes the cake. It would seem that he worked on a play early on in his career in which he had to “swim” in a speedo. (Censored by MrCere, thinking that story was meant for the room only! You are welcome Adam!) It was gut-wrenchingly funny. Another funny moment was when a fan asked which house in Harry Potter they would each belong to causing the actors to question the loyalty of the fan and resulting in a complete butchering of the HP house names. But this did lead to the discovery that Adam Brown had a small roll in the Harry Potter films which was quite ironic considering when this question was asked the audience booed, yet when they found out Adam was in the franchise they cheered. Ah, fans are so loyal…
The final panel of the evening was done by our very own MrCere and was aptly named “The Hobbit: A Front Row View”. The audience, as usual, had dedicated Ringers along with people who were just now being exposed to TORn. It is always great to see both familiar faces and to meet new people at these events. That for me has always been one of the greatest draws of conventions: a lot of these people you only see at events like this, except for following each other on Facebook or Twitter, but the friends you make at these cons really do become friends for life. Who else fully understands that aspect of you as a human being?
Sunday evening filled the Maritim Hotel with yet another party all throughout the halls and rooms of the ground floor. The music was loud, the party hopping and the socializing was going on all night long. The fact that you can be ripping up the dance floor with Royd Tolkien or chatting over a drink with Stephen Hunter or Dean O’Gorman is something that really makes this event super magical. Everyone is on the same level, no segregation of celebrity vs. commoner. Everyone hangs out with everyone, everyone dances with everyone, everyone has a drink with everyone, and everyone talks with everyone. It was a fabulous experience and I know that everyone who attended has memories that will last a lifetime.
MONTAG 21 April, 2014
The final day of the con, of any con really, is always filled with much love and sadness. No one ever wants to leave but is always filled with joy from the memories made but most importantly the new friends that were made. The morning brought another panel from the wonderful Mark Atkin, a panel from the amazing duo of Ken Stott and Graham McTavish, another panel from the fabulous Royd Tolkien and a final panel from the incomparable Sir Richard Taylor.
Sir Richard Taylor began his talk explaining the history of WETA and all of the amazing projects they have worked on and what a powerhouse they have been in the film industry. Seeing the visuals attached to the history was both fascinating and moving at the same time. He is so passionate about what he does and I have always believed that if you aren’t passionate about what you do that you should be doing something else. After his introduction, the visuals kept playing in the background as he answered questions. It is astounding that at the heart of this juggernaut of a company is such a humble man who is probably the most gracious individual I have ever encountered. He took the time to fully answer every fan question and would almost always find a story that was relevant to tell to coincide with his answer, and then he would sincerely thank the fan for their question. He meant it too. It is easy to tell when someone is genuine and when they are not, he is genuine and sincere and we as a fandom are incredibly lucky to have him.
I am a filmmaker and have been making movies since I was a kid (thanks to a film production company started by myself, my little sister and my mom called M.A.R.S. Productions). Much of our early work was LOTR related: including a three and a half hour parody of ROTK and a series named Middle Earth Idols. To simply say that Tolkien, Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor have been an inspiration and have been very influential in my life is probably the greatest understatement I could ever make. I have never not been a filmmaker, I don’t know how to be anything else, it’s just not who I am. During his talk, Richard said something that really stuck with me and pretty much sums everything up: “If you don’t wake up every morning and dedicate 100% of who you are to what you love, you will never be the version of yourself you are supposed to be. Artists or anyone creative need to be creating in order to be fulfilled as individuals. If we are not creating, we are not being who we are. That is why I live and breathe what I do. I would not be me if I did anything else.”. His words are eye opening and inspirational and if you have the opportunity to, please go see a talk or lecture given by him.
I had never had the pleasure of meeting Richard Taylor until I was 7,000 miles away from home in Bonn Germany, but I did get the honor of meeting him. I ran into him in the lobby and was initially hesitant to walk up to him; he is someone I really look up to. The line from the movie “We Bought a Zoo” popped in my head where Matt Damon says “All it takes is ten seconds of insane courage to accomplish something amazing.” so I walked up to him and introduced myself. I was shaking the entire time, but I told him a little bit about me and how much I respected him and what an influence he has had on me in my career. We chatted for about fifteen minutes and it was the most delightful conversation I’ve ever had. He was asking me questions about my career and just genuinely engaging in the conversation which I thought was amazing. At the end of the conversation he gave me his card and shook my hand saying that he hopes we can maybe work together one day. Basically made my life complete by saying that. Never in a million years did I think that conversation would happen, but it did, and I am eternally grateful to HobbitCon for having him there and giving me that opportunity.
The closing ceremonies took place in the early evening and allowed all of the fans to see the stars and lecturers one last time before departing. Everyone was met with immense cheers, Richard Taylor received a much deserved standing ovation and then the featured guests left the stage and thus HobbitCon had ended…. Almost. The actors who play our beloved dwarves emerged on to the stage one final time and lined up with microphones in front of them. They began to sing the Misty Mountains song. It gave everyone chills. It was the most incredibly awesome thing to witness and was the most perfect way to end such a wonderful event. What could possibly be better?!
So many wonderful and amazing things happened at HobbitCon and I simply can not wait until next year and am praying that I am able to attend because there is nothing that quite compares to totally geeking out, partying with dwarves and meeting so many people you admire all while being in Germany. ~ ImladrisRose
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