TORN Staffer MrCere writes: ATLANTA – It is a world all its own, enclosed in a few blocks and full of a phenominal array of the weird, the absurd, the strange and most of all, the fun! The Lord of the Rings is definitely an essential part of the landscape of fandom with over 30 dedicated tracks that take over Labor-Day weekend and suck every minute of fun both night and day.
Kiran Shah, who has a film credit list that reads like a catalog of geek-film history was on hand to share his experience of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. As part of the Tolkien track of programming, fans were treated to an hour of the tiny actor and stuntman sharing his personal tale. He was nearly always on set in New Zealand to watch the historical film get made because of his key responsibilities to play as a stunt double for Frodo and all of the hobbits during production and post-production.
Shah was introduced and thanked the crowd for coming and then launched right in to a 40 minute monolog where he explained his personal involvement in the film from the early days of deciding to commit to such a big chunk of time to his personal injury from a horse fall that kept him out of the production for several months. The audience appreciated his humor and a his new perspective on a production that has been reported on from many different angles.
Shah entertained with tales of practical jokes including Dominic Monaghan impersonating Shah to producer Barrie Osborne. Monaghan apparently called Osbourne in the middle of the night in the stuntman’s voice and demanded more money to stay on the production. The real Shah was called to a meeting the next day to discuss the problem and while he assured everybody he didn’t make the call, it wasn’t until Monaghan confessed to doing it that Shah was off the hook.
He also shed some light on the Stewart Townsend situation at the beginning of the production of the films when the young actor was cast as Aragorn and left the film. After Townsend left the film, speculation swirled around what caused the split. After the LOTR production was finished, Shah worked on another film with Townsend and finally had a chance to ask what was really behind the move. Apparently the young actor felt the weight of the roll and was scared by what was required. He felt that he wasn’t right for the role and so left the film rather than not performing at a high level.
Other than the LOTR films, Shah listed The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Dark Crystal as his favorite productions to be a part of. On that film Shah worked along with director Jim Henson and was able to implement new technologies in puppetry which he enjoyed a lot. Shah also fielded a few questions before time ran out on the featured guest who was available much of the weekend while he wandered around the wild and crazy lobbies with his nephew, a fine fellow who helps Shah when he travels and works.
DCon serves many different interests, and combined with creative costuming and dealers’ tables of every stripe, an incredibly wide spectrum of topics under the umbrella of sci-fi fandom is served by the event. However, there are some events which seem to appeal to nearly everybody such as the costuming contest, the annual costume parade, concerts in the ballrooms that last until the wee hours and most of all, people watching.
The core of the Atlanta LOTR fans remain a dedicated bunch and the transition to a new program director didn’t deter strong attendance at the Tolkien-themed programming. With Dr. Anne Petty filling the scholar’s role and Shah serving as the Tolkien-themed actor, the track remains vital and important. The Night at Bree party featuring the TORn-friendly Emerald Rose, was another smash with a costume contest and the TORn message board’s very own GreeDragon lending her vocals. A little dose of concrete news on a potential Hobbit film would give the Tolkien programming a jolt in the arm but the track is anything but finished, especially after a transition when TORn’s own Jincey stepped aside. West of the Moon continues to contribute a presence by hosting a fan table and adding vital numbers to the mix.
Tim Richardson’s “Dork of the Ring” parody film played as part of the film programming and the troupe was also featured in some Tolkien programming, including segments featuring young and talented film-makers Ashlee and Rachel Scott.
Sideshow Collectibles contributed mightily to TheOneRIng.net’s fan table. While we sold t-shirts and met with fans face-to-face, we also offered SSC gift cards (valued at SideshowCollectibles.com between $10 – $100) to those who managed to understand that ‘FREE’ really can mean free. We also distributed other Sideshow prizes by using a dice-rolling game that generated a number between 1-100, helping us find excellent homes for drool-inducing helms and weapon displays. Three lucky winners took away the daily grand prize, also provided from the Sideshow. They were a Galadriel Statue, an Eowyn Statue and a King of the Dead Statue, each highly prized by the Tolkien crowd. Thanks Sideshow and thanks to all the fans who supported our presence with the purchase of the new TORn t-shirt that says, “My house Elf is Tall, Blonde and proficient with his bow”!