Due to loading times only a few of the total 160 photographs I took at the Ring*Con 2015 are shown below. Chose from the sub galleries on the right to see more photographs. Clicking on any of the shown thumbs gets you a larger version of the respective photograph.
We write the 22nd of November 2002. As a huge Lord of the Rings fan, not just the films, but especially the books (I was twelve when I read them for the first time. Now I am fifty), I happily drove to the Maritim Hotel in Bonn. A convention about my favourite films, books and fantasy generally, that was new and incredibly exciting. It was homely and you met similar minded people.
Thirteen years later at my thirteenth Ring*Con the 6th of November 2015 heralded the end of an era. Ring*Con went into its last round. It has experienced highs and lows and the opening towards other fantasy realms. We saw pupils of magic and pirates, Northmen and noble men, elves, Hobbits and dwarfs, dark elves and orcs, vampires and werewolves. This year has been the birth of Highlanders and time travellers.
That, what Ring*Con has made stand out from other conventions has always been the diversity of offerings. Fans of actors got their money's worth as well as the intellectually curious. From stunt workshops to the Elven choir, from intellectual lectures to the knowledge how to age a costume. I remember a Ring*Con where for the first time two WETA employees had transformed two fans completely into Orcs, from head to toe. They had not expected the two-day-lasting event dragging in so many fans watching. People had nearly piled up in that room.
Another speciality, and not just at Ring*Con, but at all of the Fedcon conventions under the direction of Dirk Bartholomä is, the actors can move freely. We partied and drank together, we laughed and treated each other respectfully. Of course there is occasionally the exception of the rule, but in comparison to similar events, the Fedcon conventions differ pleasantly.
Already at the Opening Ceremony Mark Ferguson had the unpleasant task to confirm the rumours of this being the last Ring*Con. With his pleasant manner, he called the motto for the weekend "Make this Ring*Con the best that ever was and party like there was no tomorrow!"
For many it had been a downer when Craig Parker had to cancel his appearance and that there was no Lori Dungey. Together with Mark, this trio is not just the mascot team of Ring*Con, but all three also belong to the family. Legendary are their improvisation panels where the one or other guest had been taken for a ride. As an example, I think of Bruce Hopkins & Kyle Schmid and the ballet of the trees to the moaning sounds of "Je t'aime" in 2009.
Poor Carice van Houten became one of Mark Ferguson's victims in her second panel. Whether she had seen the Lord of the Rings films. Always with a subtle pointing towards the real leader of a certain Elven army. She named Elrond, described Elrond's features. Of course nearly everybody in the audience knew what Mark was referring to. He had played Gil-Galad, the leader of the Elven Army. At some point, Carice got the clue and asked tauntingly "You all did know?". We were laughing so hard. I am not sure she knows that poor Mark got cut from the films, a thorne still stinging. After all it was "his" Elven army and not Elrond's.
The Outlander fans will be going to lynch me now, but ... how should I put it ... well, I'm not a diehard fan. The love story is way too over the top for my liking. However, I like the 17th century Scotland setting, the good acting, the cinematography and of course, the music (Bear McCreary forever!). I love Scotland, most of all the north-west.
Thus, it came that I talked with Sam Heughan about Da Vinci's Demons during the autograph session. Actually quite funny, because it was he who had asked for Da Vinci's Demons fans during the first Outlander panel. I admit, I am a Da Vinci's Demons uber fan. Got even lucky enough to be shown around the set in Wales in 2013 and was able to take pictures at close-by Margam Park, that was used as a location.
With Gary Lewis I agreed. The Isle of Lewis/Harris, just magic. Perhaps I manage one day to have a cloudless sky and aurora at the Calanais Standing Stones during the night of the winter solstice. Duncan Lacroix admitted that this all was very overwhelming for him. The fans were so nice and attentive.
And yet the Outlander stars had had quite a troublesome arrival on Saturday, except Gary Lewis, who had already arrived on Friday. Due to no closer specified reason Sam's luggage went lost at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport and with it, the Kilt he had packed. Thus, it was Graham McTavish who had to uphold the Kilt frontline. Gary, too, came down handsomely and stroke up the Isle of Sky Boat Song upon a fan's request. Moreover, he taught us a Gaelic song.
Graham had to take a lot of flak. The HobbitCon visitors already know, thanks to Adam Brown and his very visual depictions, that Graham and horses do not necessarily make the ideal team. However, both seem to have one thing in common. The flight instinct!
During his single panel, Sam talked about an incident during the shooting of Outlander. He and Graham had been waiting in a tent. It was raining and it was dark when it came to pass that a tractor with the lighting equipment came their way. That made Graham quite concerned because he assumed the tractor driver would overlook them. When something hit the tent indeed, Graham took flight and left Sam behind. Not that he later told everybody how he had saved poor Sam from the imminent danger of death.
The same story one day later at the Outlander group panel. Graham just had started to launch into telling us this heroic story, when he got interrupted by Sam. "Oh, that day, when you had saved my life?" We laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes. We also learned that Graham had various flight options figured out, where to go if the Highland cows they were shooting with should go postal. I surely will ask Graham at HobbitCon next year who is worse at dishing out, his Outlander colleagues, or the dwarves.
A true revelation was Liam McIntyre. Not just because he drove Mark Ferguson mad, but he did something a certain Sylvester McCoy, Radagast the Brown from the Hobbit, had already done at HobbitCon to the amusement of all present.
Thus, Mark uttered "You are just like an elderly gentleman, just without the stick and the hedgehog. But contrary to you he had managed the fans to follow him across the room. Oh god, I should not have said that! My worst nightmare, you two together in one panel."
You could see that both knew each other well. Mark, too, was in Spartacus skating around the fact he had had in his advanced age some rather obscene scenes. The banter between the two was hilarious. At some point, Mark accused poor Liam that he by far was not as muscly as he had been.
With Chase Coleman (Werewolf Oliver, The Originals) a bit of Kiwi panel atmosphere was brought to the hall. Mark had managed to talk him into a little improvisation performance. Although Chase did not exactly know what he had agreed to, he, to our joy, was all game for it.
For Chase, the convention was not as easygoing as it was for the other guests. He was there as a soloist, while all the others had at least one other co-star at the side and secondary The Originals started to air in Germany only one year ago. But as soon as he had unpacked his guitar and started to sing, and oh boy that man can sing, he had conquered at least some hearts.
With Ian Beattie (Ser Meryn Trant) and Jack Gleeson (Geoffrey Baratheon), two uber villains enhanced the group of the Game of Thrones actors. It is truly incredible how contrary to their characters both are.
Although Jack Gleeson claimed Maisie Williams would lie when she says he was a really nice guy, I believe every fan at the convention agrees he is indeed a very nice human being. Witty, charming and a teaser! He will not give up acting entirely, he said to me. He will finish school, but inevitably will re-appear at some point in the future.
You could not overlook how happy Ian Beattie was to be at Ring*Con and that is not just only because he hugged and kissed every single fan during the autograph session. The entire weekend he was present and incredibly close to the fans. An absolute pro on stage as well. He knew exactly what buttons to push.
I believe, casting Jessie Cave as Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter movies was pure genius. We were lying on the floor laughing so hard when she told us what she all did to gain the attention of the guys when she was in school. It was not just what she told us, but also the manner in which she did.
Charmingly confused she had the hall lying at her feet and the little wardrobe malfunction, she was unintentionally flashing her bra, only added to that. Even Mark was dying with laughter during that panel.
Everything comes to an end eventually and although saying goodbye is not so easy, I remain hopeful. First, there is still HobbitCon 2016 to come to which Craig Parker and Lori Dungey have been invited. And I am nearly positive, there will be something new coming my way, perhaps already in 2017.
I should like to finish this report with the words Gary Lewis said in this wonderful Scottish accent at the end of the last Outlander group panel. They just mirror what I had felt at the end of this last Ring*Con.
"This is a gathering, and at a gathering there is something that we always cry out with gusto, with respect, care, compassion and love for each other. We are outlanders, we are here at Ring*Con together..." and all on stage went "Tùlach Àrd!" Goosebumps feeling pure!
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