Oh my god, it’s time again! HobbitCon II! The first one was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had so far, and as soon as they announced (unexpectedly) a second HobbitCon I knew I had to go there. So I lay on lookout for two weeks when it was clear that the ticket shop could open any day, and I managed to get my ticket approximately 15 minutes after the shop opened. I didn’t expect to do better (or similarly good) than/as my ticket number 10 last year, but number 5 of the Silver tickets is pretty awesome. My expectations were astronomically high after I had such a blast last year, but this Con has been equally awesome – I really don’t know how they do it, but it’s really really special.
It’s a pity that both Aidan Turner and James Nesbitt couldn’t make it (the latter being announced at first but then cancelled), but with William Kircher and Ken Stott there were still two more dwarves than last year. Plus, one very amazing icing on the cake: Sir Richard Taylor, founder and head of Weta Workshop!
What a day! As I said, my expectations were astronomical and I was partly worried to be disappointed, because: How could this be as awesome as this wonderful convention last year?
I think I’ll mainly let images speak this time [edit after writing the report: yeah… right…], since everything is a bit blurry and I can’t really remember details of what the panels were about (lol) because there were quite a lot of similar questions as last year – understandably, but that makes it hard to recall the differences ;)
First panel: Mark Hadlow (who was, just like last year, incredible. Such a funny and a bit crazy guy!) and Stephen Hunter.
At some point Mark, acting angry or sulky, went to one of the decoration figures in the background – I guess they’re supposed to be elves – to pout/complain to „her“ and ended up „kissing“ her.
Mark showing the audience how Graham McTavish uses to bully him (the hand up there being Grahams face, obviously ;))
A flash of anger, and Stephen helping him to calm down.
Second panel: Sir Richard Taylor. It was such an honour to finally have him on a LotR/HobbitCon! I really liked that some people (I joined in) gave him standing ovations when he came on stage. He’s really a legend and an inspiration for me.
And a down-to-earth guy who told quite a bit about the history of WETA (for example how he and his wife started out sculpting in margarine… yes, the stuff we put on our bread), and he said some very inspiring stuff, for example, how passion counts more than talent, and that one should never ever give up.
Jed found the person whom Richard transformed into an orc earlier this day.
Third panel: William Kircher, John Callen and Peter Hambleton. I had no idea William Kircher was such a funny person – and that he actually still remembered quite a few Khuzdul sentences. Of course Bifur only speaks Khuzdul, but still, I reckon it’s quite a difficult language to remember after a while (although I still remember Gimli’s curse towards Haldir – no, I can’t write it, I just know how to say it, so I guess it’s possible ;))
John Callen presenting his hearing aid (and his face)
Fourth panel: Adam Brown and Dean O’Gorman (the only one who’s changed a bit, physically, with longer hair than last year). I love to capture their expressions, so this was a great panel to take photos ;)
Adam and Dean got asked how Ori and Fili would propose to their girlfriends and they acted that scene (with Adam beating around the bush shyly for a minute and then suddenly storming up to Dean and „kissing“ him wildly. I’m afraid I didn’t see that coming and my camera didn’t focus fast enough, I only have „aftermath“ photos, this being the first:
Adam and Dean demonstrating their awkwardest hugs, first the one with each other when they first met, then Dean’s with Peter Jackson.
Adam told us how he let out a high pitched scream when he got (accidentally) startled by Orlando Bloom.
Also, he is terribly afraid of fish (and the fish in the Laketown scene were all real, old, stinking fish), and when he did the scene, he was supposed to lift his hand as soon as it was done to show that everything was okay, and Andy Serkis and the crew were really worried when he didn’t react to their calling out to him (simply because he wasn’t able to move a bit)
Dean had to recount his letterbox story (if you don’t know the story, see here).
After that I, for some reason, assumed that I could take a short break before the Opening Ceremony, and totally forgot about the photo sessions. I only realised that later on before the games show, when someone in the row before me had a photo of Ken Stott – whom I, btw. also had totally forgotten… when the dwarves from last year were all standing on the stage during the Opening Ceremony, and Mark Ferguson announced another dwarf, I was seriously puzzled, who that could be. How could I forget my third/second favourite dwarf!? :D However, at this point, I was terribly afraid that I missed my only chance to get a photo with Ken and with Richard Taylor… but thankfully I discovered that they would to photo sessions on Sunday also. Phew!
The Opening Ceremony was a great event, as every year, and I liked how much the audience cheered for Richard Taylor (and Ken Stott for whom it was the first convention ever).
The Blunt the Knives song was played and the dwarves sang along and, as you can see, Dean and Jed „danced“ along.
The Game show was – surprisingly – on the first day. It was, just as last year, so much fun!
After Jed and Mark, Dean was announced to come on stage but instead Stephen came out, very active and cheerful, obviously imitating Dean, and afterwards Dean came on stage as Stephen.
I forgot the name of Jed + Mark’s team. Here’s Stephen + Dean (=Filbom(b))
First round: the well known buzzer game
Jed after unsuccessfully trying to cheat (question: how old was Bilbo when he went out on that unexpected journey. Someone in the audience obviously signalled him 55, and in this photo he’s just explaining the difference between five fingers and two)
Next game: both teams are one person and have to say their phrases one word each. Jed and Mark began having an entire dialogue before Mark Ferguson managed to chime in and stop them (because the other team was supposed to play the other part: one person wants to take the other on a date… to Mordor :D).
Third game: they were to audition, each of them posing as an animal. Jed Brophy (1) as an ostrich (which kept putting his head into – or symbolically on – the ground) and Mark Hadlow (2) a kangaroo (which kept slapping his „tail“ at Mark Ferguson’s ass). Stephen Hunter (3) was a (very bored and indifferent) wine-bottle-unicorn.
And then a a funny question from Dean’s panel earlier (or a serious question which turned out funny) led to one of the most hilarious scenes in the Game show. Dean had understood „giraffe“ instead of „dwarf“, so now he got to play a giraffe in the game show (4): Dean was being carried by Jed until the latter went onto his knees, then Stephen took over.
Dean clearly won that round. „His“ giraffe was most hilarious.
And one photo just for fun… I love Dean’s hair in this one :D
The next game was a (rather slashy) „fanfiction“ that Mark „wrote“ and the actors had to act the parts… and eventually all the dwarves got „strangely aroused“ by one another. I don’t know if Stephen posed as his own role but I think the others did. So here’s Dori, his heart beating for (?) edit: was it Kili?
One totally recognises Fili here, right?
Nori’s drunk – and Fili and Nori clearly attracted to one another
„Thank god!“ (I think it’s exactly the moment and the exact words Dean uttered when Mark Ferguson changed the scene and they did not have to „kiss“:
Here’s Kili shooting or rather hitting at (?) (whatever character Stephen resumed)
In the last round, they had to improvise a scene with Mark shouting an emotion every now and then which they had to act on immediately…
On further notice: I don’t know who told us, but the SEE will probably feature a scene with Beorn and the dwarves introducing themselves one by one. Also I think Graham told us that there were interrogation scenes with Thranduil and the dwarves in his throne room. I really hope that makes the SEE cut.
Plus, I think William Kircher told us something about the third film… and I forgot, what. :D Was it that the Laketown dwarves will still manage to join the other dwarves in the next movie? I’m not sure. Maybe someone can help me out.
After I totally forgot the photo sessions on Saturday, I was eager to take the opportunity on Sunday.
Sunday began with a panel of Ken Stott and Graham McTavish.
I think it is incredible how much the image of the actors and the characters can blurr – I only speak of their stage behaviour of course. Even though I’d love to just talk with one of the dwarf actors for an hour or two privately, of course I’ve never done that and don’t know them better than that stage appearance at the two HobbitCons.
But just going with this, I think there’s really a lot of Graham in Dwalin and Ken just needs to open his mouth and say something and I immediately think of Balin. These two are the most extreme cases though. You don’t really recognise Dean in Fili (or the other way round) – except, of course, his attractiveness ;) , and while William Kircher seems to be a bit crazy as is Bifur, it’s a different way of crazy, so the same goes for him.
For Jed, Mark and Adam, it’s the first extreme again. One can totally see Adam in Ori, Jed in Nori and Mark in Dori. Plus on stage they have this sibling „mode“ (and they have it down to perfection!), which puts a lot of Ori in Adam etc. Most ad“ori“ble! The sibling thing also goes for John Callen’s and Peter Hambleton’s Oin and Gloin. While they’re not as easily recognizable in their characters, one can easily see their roles when they’re on stage together. Plus, I think John Callen would make an awesome wizard… This leaves Stephen Hunter. Since his role is a tiny bit taciturn, I’m not sure how much of Stephen is in Bombur – although it was repeatedly mentioned that they both love food. But, oh how I would have loved to see him and James Nesbitt interact on stage! Hopefully James can make it next time (not to mention that hopefully there will be a next time!).
Okay, back to the panels. The second panel: Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter.
Jed being his usual self, always in motion…
Here, showing how the chasing-or-rather-being-chased-scene in Erebor was filmed, with Andy (or Peter?) yelling „here’s the dragon, now here’s the dragon, no, here…“ or something like that.
They brought swords but didn’t actually cross them… Jed and his son Sadwyn did.
Stephen had a chat with the background decoration.
Jed and Stephen demonstrating the dwarf training from that video of the dwarves that went viral some time ago (see photo above of Graham’s panel)
Aaaaand scene 88.
The third panel: Royd Tolkien and Sadwyn Brophy. Right now I’m not so sure why I didn’t stay til the end, though it was very interesting… I guess I wanted to be at the photo session with Ken Stott early.
After that the autograph session started, and I think that’s my one negative experience, because it was not really organized. Instead of making two lines for Silver tickets and normal weekend tickets from the start, they let a mixed line form up. Also I would have preferred the Silver tickets to be sorted by number (which I assumed would happen, but it didn’t, so I had to wait quite some time before I got in… and then it took even more time waiting for the autograph. I was to get autographs for friends, so I started with Peter Hambleton, for whom the line was shortest (of the five people I wanted to get autographs of). That was one of the nicest moments of this con for me, even though he probably told that to a lot of the people in costumes, but he asked me if he could take a closer look at my costume and actually got up and walked passed the table to do so. He asked me if I participated in the costume contest. I don’t but he said I should be proud of making this costume anyway. I guess I am, it’s the first time I actually feel a bit proud of a costume I made. Especially after Sir Richard Taylor emphasised in his panel on Monday that individuality was one of the most important traits and my head gear certainly was most individual. Until this panel I always felt a bit uncomfortable about it because it’s a makeshift because I simply don’t see how to do a neat elvish helmet out of leather (at least with the limited tools I use). But I think it’s pretty possible that an elf would wear this. At least my elf character does ;))
Hopefully I get to „pimp“ it a bit til next year (not to mention that there hopefully will be… yeah I know I already wrote that.). I planned to do a much more complicated costume, but I had to give up (after cutting out approximately 2000 leather scales I simply started sewing them too late). Maybe I get to do this til next year.
Then I went to Royd Tolkien. I already had his autograph, too, so I just got two for friends. Such a charming and not to mention good-looking guy! ;) Afterwards to Dean, for whom the waiting line was the longest. And then I really could have kicked myself, for not bringing one of my WETA books for Richard Taylor to sign. I had to get the only photo instead. I really hope he’ll do another convention (HobbitCon 2015, please?!) and then I’ll have to get another autograph. I really don’t know why I didn’t bring the book, but I’m kinda angry with myself for that. The day after I actually thought about getting the Creatures book, I think the second in the Hobbit Chronicles line, which I don’t have yet, to get another autograph, but of course the two merchandise booths which had any books, didn’t have these books. So hopefully next time!
Back to Sir Richard. The waiting line for him wasn’t the longest at first, but he was certainly the slowest signer I’ve ever seen. Which isn’t a bad thing, because he wrote half a page or even a page full (for the intelligent people who brought a book), and at least a long dedication for the ones with photos. Plus he exchanged a few words with everybody and he took photos of the people in costume, including two photos of my costume, one of the full costume, and one detail photo of the collar (which was actually the part of my costume I’m most proud of). I made a collar similar to the one Legolas wears in DoS, with the leaf-shaped scales. He told me that Weta ended up molding them instead of using leather. I think I had read that, but it was nice of him to tell me that he would have loved to make my costume (which is kinda funny since I based it on the costume they made for the Mirkwood hunters. Except the head gear. That’s a relict from the above mentioned Helm’s Deep elves-helmet-dilemma).
After getting his autograph I got Sadwyn’s for myself and since I had one more Silver ticket autograph spot left, I gave Ken Stott the photo from the earlier photo session to sign – he was giggling while he signed it since I had asked him to look terrified and I „threatened“ him with my sword for the photo. Well, I was grinning quite madly, so it wasn’t that threatening, but he does look scared. :D
A few photos of the dwarves and Sir Richard during the autograph session. The one of Mark I actually took when Richard Taylor was the last one signing (as I said, he was pretty slow) and the others were finished, and Mark just grinned into my camera in the right moment.
After that the costume contest took place, with a pretty awesome jury, including Royd, Jed, Sadwyn (btw. I really like that name!), William and Sir Richard Taylor!
This here is one of my absolute favourite photos. Richard Taylor was the last juror and they gave him standing ovations and I utterly love how they bow to him. It gives me goosebumps just looking at the photo!
Here photos of most of the contestants – I think I only missed the last two.
I left after the last contestant had shown his costume, since the contest was taking place from 18 to 19:00, followed by the one panel I wouldn’t wanna miss at all: With Jed, Stephen, Dean, Mark and Adam, ergo a panel were fun was guaranteed – but Sir Richard’s photo session was to take place at 1900. So I wanted to be one of the first so that I could go to the panel as quickly as possible. After the photo session I went there and my seating row was completely taken, so I asked the people who were sitting on the outer fringe, but they were in the right place, and then I went to the other side, the inner fringe and actually the person sitting right next to the corridor, i.e. the best position for photographs, was in the wrong row. So I actually should have thanked her for saving my seat – although she wasn’t too happy of course to be sent to her own row in the back (where someone else had taken her seat). Not my problem though. Yes, I am very happy and was very lucky to get such a low ticket number.
One question for Dean was about a nudity scene and that one only sees his butt and the fan said that it is also very nice to look at, so Jed had to go and check it out ;)
Adam recounted his most frightening moment in his career. If I recall it correctly, he was doing a play and wore a speedo and pretended to go swimming, making swimming movements, also in the audience, only to realise one day that his left testicle was hanging out. Needless to say noone will ever forget Adam Brown’s left testicle (it was also mentioned repeatedly on the next day). And needless to say, the audience and the other guys just cracked up about this.
We learned that Adam Brown actually is in a Happy Potter movie. He’s one of the students raising their wands in the 6th movie, when Dumbledore is killed. The other actors didn’t know this either.
You have one guess: Which dwarf actor are these guys imitating?
Yup, that’s right.
More random photos:
John Callen and Peter Hambleton „crashed the party“. I think it speaks volumes if actors, even the ones of an advanced age do something like that. They must have genuinely enjoyed being at this convention, and I love them for giving us such funny moments and generally a wonderful weekend.
Still more random photos:
Poor Adam got asked, if Ori had to choose between saving Nori or Dori and there was no other way, whom would he save. He turned the tables and let the audience decide whom Ori would kill, and Nori lost out (third photo: Fili stabbing Nori).
The last panel of the evening was with John Callen and Peter Hambleton.
As always a pleasure to listen to them. Although I have no idea what the context of this photo was…
I actually only realised what John Callen did there, when I looked at the photos later in the evening on my laptop. :D Then I understood why Mark Ferguson reacted so shocked. ;)
What a bittersweet day… I really wanted this convention to last a week at least. It’s so much fun and so sad that it had to end already.
While the main actors were in the second autograph session, Mark Atkin, Thorin’s stunt and scale double, had his panel.
He told us how he was a bit starstruck when in his first scene on set he sat next to Sir Ian McKellen and was directed by Peter Jackson, and he thought to himself, that he oughta quit now, because how could that get any better. Also how he met Richard Armitage and again, was starstruck and didn’t really wanna bug Richard, while the other actors and scale doubles were already chatting merrily, and then I think it was the lady who was responsible for continuity etc., who just took him by the arm, „delivered“ him right to Richard, told him „this is your scale double“ while Richard was just sitting there, and tieing his shoe laces or something, and then left Mark standing there feeling even more awkward.
Also he demonstrated how they trained sword fighting, first with rubber (or other plastic) swords and very slowly, then faster and finally with real swords.
In the end he and the guy from the stunt workshop (Ben, I think?), did a very funny slomo version. Not quite earnest, as you can see ;)
Here are two photos of my favourite costumes this year. Actually the only photos of fans that I took, apart from the costume contestants. Aren’t these Mirkwood guards *breathtaking*?!
Then the second panel: Graham and Ken.
We learned, that Dwalin would never be the same after losing Thorin and that he didn’t want to fight ever again, and for that reason didn’t go to Moria with Balin, which ended in him losing Balin as well. What they said about survivor’s guilt was pretty intense, it gave me goosebumbs.
On a funnier note, the latter told us, how once he and his sweetheart didn’t want to leave Berlin immediately after a premiere but rather spend another day there, so they asked the driver to „take too long“ to the airport, thus „miss the flight“, and how the driver winked and agreed, but then they were told that the plane was actually delayed for them so that they could reach it. So they accepted the fact that they weren’t gonna stay another day after all, and went to the airport only to find out that something with the paper work went wrong and they actually missed the flight so they had to take a flight the next day (such a pity! ;)). And the next day there was fog, so they actually had to spend another day in Berlin. At that point Ken threw his arms up in the air mimicking their joy about this „inconvenient“ delay.
Afterwards, Sir Richard Taylor, who showed the reel again, and the range of movies Weta worked on, and then answered questions again, as in his panel on Saturday.
I couldn’t resist taking a picture of him tugging his shirt. I think it’s an endearing trait, that he’s obviously still nervous when he’s in the limelight, or was nervous for so long that he adopted that quirk.
And the next panel: William Kircher. Actually I have to revise my opinion of him a bit, because I thought it to be pretty cruel to insist that the obviously very shy girl had to come onto the stage. I really didn’t like that. Not all people are entertainers. And she was already trembling at the microphone in the audience, so putting her on stage was just cruel. (If you are her and happen to read this: it was brave of you to do this, instead of just sitting down and hiding. You did great!).
Here’s Mark Ferguson, posing as a timid German, Klaus.
Live advertising of the cosplay contest at the next RingCon, right before the Closing Ceremony.
Well actually right before that they played the music video of I See Fire and quite many people in the audience sang along –> goosebumps.
And then the Closing Ceremony. Graham had to say goodbye in the beginning of the ceremony, because he had to catch an earlier plane.
Here’s him and Mark doing „the McTavish“ dance move.
Then we got to see the winners of the audience costume award and the the art awards, and the 2nd and 1st winner of the handcrafting award was actually a girl of… I don’t know… maybe 4 (yes, four, I didn’t forget another digit) years? Everybody was absolutely bewildered and amazed.
Also the stunt workshop and the Middle Earth choir performed on stage. During the second performance of the choir – they sang the Misty Mountains song (the title song of the first movie, not the song the dwarves sang in Bag End) – I actually got tears in my eyes. It was really beautiful.
And then we had to say goodbye to the actors. One of the funniest moments was when first Royd and Mark Atkin took a selfie on stage and then Sadwyn joined them and they did another selfie – and I had to laugh when we saw one of them gesturing that they ought to extend their selfie with every actor who was to join them on stage. That would have been really funny, but I think they didn’t.
The main actors appeared on stage I think in the same order as in the Opening Ceremony, with Ken being second to last and then Richard Taylor who received standing ovations immediately. It was really beautiful and I get goosebumps every time this happens. I loved how he was celebrated as main celebrity on this convention. I do hope he’ll be back next year!
All photos of the Closing Ceremony until that point:
And then the dwarves came back… and sang “Misty Mountains”.
Goosebumps! Perfect ending of a wonderful convention!
See ya at HobbitCon III (?!!!!!!!?)!