Eight Dwarves & One Wizard
Due to loading times only a few of the total 168 photographs I took at the HobbitCon 2013 are shown below. Chose from the sub galleries below to see more photographs. Clicking on any of the shown thumbs gets you to the respective subgallery.
Bonn (Germany), March 30 - April 1, 2013
To me HobbitCon was certainly not the first convention of this kind as you probably have seen when you have browsed through my other photographs. I've been attending these kinds of events for the past 11 plus years and still enjoy them. Every event is different; you meet different fan groups, different guests, a different atmosphere and make new friends, help out the ones that are completely new to these kind of events and simply enjoy the new encounters.
But this HobbitCon stands out as being special. Once in a while you have the rare coincidence that everything fits to the t. Guests liking the fans and vice versa, a family-kind of atmosphere, just to meet same-minded people. Everyone is friendly and polite to each other (except of the very few disturbances that happen at every con and about which I write a bit further below).
I am a very open-minded person. I do not judge people beforehand, most of all not because of a movie and most definitely not because of looks. I also do not put people on pedestals. I simply enjoy when actors are doing a great job so that I as the audience get the opportunity to let myself fall into the respective storyline. I admire when an actor is able to say more with a raised eyebrow than with wild gestures and a thousand words. It's the subtlety I enjoy, that what lies underneath and what makes a story the more believable to me. The entire cast of the The Hobbit did in this regard a fabulous job!
So I was curious to meet the attending dwarves and most of all this one wizard, that I instantly had adopted when I had seen The Hobbit for the very first time. I like weird characters and of course Radagast with his love for animals and nature hits a core. I love nature and cannot understand why people are always in such a hurry that they do not notice a beautiful sunset or an extraordinary set of clouds in the sky. So adopted he was, including all the crawling insects, mice, birds, hedgehogs within his robe and under his hat.
An MC On The Brink Of A Nervous Breakdown Part 1
The con Newby certainly does not get the references to Mark Ferguson our MC for HobbitCon. Now Mark had attended the very first Ring*Con way back in 2002 as a guest. It has become a running gag that his role as GilGalad had been completely cut. At that time he jokingly complained about Elrond leading "his" army. Ever since Mark has attended each and every Ring*Con as both a guest and later as the MC.
Along with Craig Parker and Lori Dungey he belongs to the Ring*Con mascots without whom the convention would miss out on not only some special people but also on the humour they bring to the convention. They are not too shabby to do the most ridiculous things on stage, much to the enjoyment of us fans. Every time we were lying under the chairs laughing tears until the entire face hurts. And at HobbitCon it should not be different as you can read further down when I come to the "Quiz Panel".
So my very first panel for the weekend was the one with Mark Hadlow (Dori) and Stephen Hunter (Bombur). You can tell when actors at their very first convention have stage experience. They may be nervous but you don't notice and those two were no exception. They had us in stitches in no time and poor Mark Ferguson muttered more or less to himself. "But this is just the first panel", realising that if the entire convention would go on like that it'll be not only hilarious but also quite exhausting. Needlessly to say it went on like that.
Mark Hadlow's Dori is the oldest brother out of three with Nori (Jed Brophy) the middle-aged one and Ori (Adam Brown) the youngest. He formed a background story about his brothers to play the part and of course he is like a motherhen when it comes to Ori, who on the other hand wants to escape the constant coddling and rather sees his idol in Nori. Dori does not approve of that since Nori is quite the character, like the black sheep of the family. And this background story the three actors played out over the entire convention and probably also during the shooting of The Hobbit. With crashing each other panels, disapproving of what was said and done. They took the pi** out of each other.
If I should have confused you all now with all the names of the dwarves intermixed with the ones of the actors, don't fret, further below is imagery putting the actor to the respective dwarf sorted by dwarf family.
The energy level of these actors is beyond crazy. And although Mark constantly mocked Jed about being all exuberant and moving even at 4am when everybody else was still asleep with open eyes, I can confirm Mark's not the better.
Poor Stephen Hunter could not escape the abuse of fat joke telling on set but as Bombur he has most definitely the most children. Mark pointed out that Stephen is quite the Chef and a good cook. A lot of references throughout almost all panels were made to Scene 88, the one where the dwarves and Gandalf are running from the wargs & the orcs. In order to get into their characters they all wore prosthetics. Like rubber arms with thicker fingers, fat suits underneath, heavy boots and costumes. The running had been a nightmare, except for Bombur who they claimed was the only one sitting still. Don't believe that, saw him running too. :-)
This Tiny Matter With The Names
Adam Brown (Ori), what an adorable person. Isn't that a horrible thing to say about a man? Well, but that's what the majority of fans felt; mother instinct kicking in galore. And it seems we were not alone. Mark Hadlow told me at the autograph session that he and his wife kind of had adopted him while shooting in New Zealand and that Adam was a very special person. I can see why.
A bit shy in the beginning of his first Q & A session he quickly warmed up to the fans' questions. One fan addressed a particular incident that happened at a press conference where he was asked to name the name of Gandalf's sword. He had blurted out: "Galadriel" (Elven Lady Of Lothlorien). I don't know what happened at that press conference afterwards but at HobbitCon we were lying under our chairs laughing so hard and Mark Ferguson could not leave it be and put additional images in our heads like Galadriel's face on the hilt of the sword, etc. which made us laugh even harder.
Well, it was IGN.com who quizzed the Hobbit cast, which provided the proof
Adam tried to explain himself pointing to Aidan Turner (Kili) who had whispered the right name into his ear, getting him all confused. To no avail, this hilarious, and certainly somewhat embarrassing incident stayed for a long time in our heads, until...
...until the Quiz Panel.
Again I need to explain to the Con Newby what a Quiz Panel is. Well, Mark Ferguson and Craig Parker have been to so many Ring*Cons that all possible and impossible questions have been asked. At some point their Q & A panels turned into hilarious and funny onstage Improv sessions, ballet dancing, singing sessions and game shows, all courtesy of the weird mind of one Mark Ferguson respectively Lori Dungey.
At these Quiz Panels two teams of actors are formed who compete against each other in hilarious games. At HobbitCon there were four competitions. The first was just a quiz about The Hobbit. The second was to make faces behind Mark Ferguson's back until to be caught by him. The third was to pretend to be at a funeral without making the audience laugh. The fourth was truth or dare storytelling where one of the actors told a story and the other team had to find out whether it was true or not. And last but not least while Mark Ferguson told a story the actors had to place his limbs in a way that matched the told story. All of that not necessarily in that order, which I have forgotten.
This time the teams consisted of Dean O'Gorman and Mark Hadlow on the one side and Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter on the other side.
Well, Adam should no longer be alone in the group of embarrassing Hobbit answers. When asked about the name of the Goblin King, Stephen Hunter blurted out Thranduil (Mirkwood Elven King & dad to Legolas), which once more had us laughing so hard that tears were streaming down our faces.
No less hilarious was Dean O'Gorman's (continually referenced as the "hot dwarf" by Mark Ferguson) truth or dare story about him getting stuck in his mail box. Yes, you have read right, mail box. Certainly not one of those tiny boxes but one where milk bottles could be placed in as well. But nonetheless a mail box.
He had presumably forgotten his key and while coming home from work in the wee hours of the morning he tried to get his hand through said mail box to get the front door opened. That did not go as expected, so he tried to get further into the box and got stuck. If that was not hilarious enough he continued to say that he tried to call for the neighbour to get help but said neighbour was an elderly lady and could not push him out of the box again. So she contemplated about what to be done and eventually called the fire brigade.
Now the fire truck had not arrived without the flashing lights and siren, so that every neighbour in the street got out to have a look where it was burning. Poor Dean, still stuck in the box must have felt like a nightmare coming true. Anyhow, the fireman had to cut a huge hole into the wall to eventually get Dean freed.
The best part about the whole story? It was true!
Apparently Mark Ferguson wanted team Brophy / Hunter to win because one of the questions he asked team O'Gorman / Hadlow was "what is the opposite of light"? Quite correctly Dean answered with "dark", but did not receive the point for his team because ..... "Heavy" was the right answer. :-)
In the end it was indeed Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter who won the quiz panel.
Spot The Actor
Normally it is quite easy to get your autograph at the autograph session. You simply go up to the actor of which character you have your picture. Well, that was exactly the problem here.
While some "dwarves" were easy to match with the respective actor, some were a bit harder to identify. I chose the method of elimination, going to those actors first I was absolutely sure of their characters. Then I went with the actors' voice.
As I looked around I started to chuckle a tiny wee bit. I was not alone in the "who is who" game.
When I had all of my autographs somebody asked me why I did not go with the beard. Well, that simple idea did not occur to me to be honest. The autograph tickets all featured the character of the respective actor with the actor's name on it. Yes, I admit it would have been easier to go with the beard. But the simple things are the ones that get easily overlooked.
John Callen (Oin) showed me "the ring" when I told him that I liked his rings he was wearing. I have not even had in mind to ask for that special ring that was made for the actors as a memory of making The Hobbit. I only had spotted the beautiful dragon ring he was wearing. I wear a Celtic Tree of Life pendant, so I knew what the dragon ring was and showed my pendant to John, which seemed to have surprised him. You see an example of a Celtic dragon ring on the right.
To Graham McTavish I talked about my love for Scotland, this lovely area called Sutherland and that is up north of Ullapool. I think he did not believe a single word I said. And I also think I know why. At a later panel he talked about still having a place in Scotland although he lives in Los Angeles. The area he talked about was exactly what I love as well and what I had talked about in the autograph session. So I guess he assumed I had looked it up, to be just nice. But it is true, I love Scotland. I even own several square feet of Scottish soil, a tiny place where people cannot cut down trees.
The "who is who" of the Middle Earth's Hobbit:
Dwalin younger brother of Balin
Bombur brother of Bofur and cousin of Bifur
Fili brother of Kili and nephew of Thorin Oakenshield
Dori older brother of Nori and Ori
Gloin brother of Oin and father of Gimli
Radagast the Brown one of the Istari
An MC On The Brink Of A Nervous Breakdown Part 2
Little did Mark Ferguson know that he would have to face a wizard actor on the run when he announced Sylvester McCoy for his first panel, which was also the last for Saturday evening.
It took Sylvester exactly five minutes to discover the stairs leading down to the audience. After seven minutes he used them!
Hurrying through the aisles in quite the vein of Rrrrrrrradagast the Brrrrrrrrown as he liked to refer to his character holding his microphone to the fans that wanted to ask questions. A totally flabbergasted Mark Ferguson was left behind onstage, fearing the worst if one could go by his helpless gesture of facepalm.
Mark should not have worried! Sylvester knew exactly what he was doing. He performed an awesome spectacle that left everyone in stitches. And he did not stay in one place, in one minute he was at the back of the room, the next to the left and then to the right, motioning to the fans wanting to ask questions to follow him. Thus we got the hilarious visual of a moving queue throughout the entire room mimicking Sylvester's movements. Mr. McCoy had the audience completely and utterly in his hand.
Now, the Maritim's main hall is set up as a theatre with a real stage and also balcony seating. Usually fans go up to the on the balcony and in the room placed microphones to ask their questions. When one fan who was up on the balcony came up to a microphone, Mark interfered, letting Sylvester know that there was a question from upstairs. Sylvester's remark to the fan? "JUMP!"
A whole group of fans asking for hugs got hugs, something that is normally not really liked well during panels as well as the singing of birthday songs. But both happened frequently and I think Sylvester did not mind. Quite cleverly he dodged questions he did not want to answer by going on a tirade of speech and everybody forgot in seconds what the question was about. He possesses an absolutely likable, crazy, out of the norm nature and he is proud to be different as he told us several times.
In jest he told us he had thought to have a whole scene, just for him to shine as an actor before he realised when watching The Hobbit, that a digital hedgehog was stealing his show. And what is it with the bird poo on his face? Another tirade.
At some point Mark Ferguson came up to him with a cup of tea, I think, to lure him back onto the stage. Sylvester took a nip and moved on throughout the aisles of the room, the queue of fans in tow, leaving Mark standing where he was. Hilarious!
A little while later, I spotted one of the security people moving in sync with Mr. McCoy keeping his distance but being there if need should arise just after Mark had vanished a split second going backstage, certainly to call for help.
Many Doctor Who questions were also asked and most prominently if he would be in the TV special marking Doctor Who's 50th anniversary this year. Nope, no real comment, just hints. We also learnt that Sylvester had toured Germany in the late 70ies with a theatre group quite successfully, although he said we were all too young to have lived then.
Needless to say that we went out on an absolute high that evening. And Sylvester did not disappoint in his second panel as well. Despite Mark Ferguson coming on stage, this time armed with a chair in high hopes Sylvester would take a seat. Nope, sorry Mark, but Mr. McCoy continued where he had left off very much to the fans liking.
Horses, such lovely creatures & one dwarf and his arm
Above I mentioned that Adam Brown was a bit shy in the beginning. But that soon went away and he revealed a secret...
In the scene where Bilbo comes after the Dwarves wanting to join their company with the signed contract in his hands they all stopped on their ponies, all but one, all but one who had trouble in controlling his horse....
This is not funny in itself but you should have seen Adam performing that hassle of poor Graham on that poor horse of which Graham swears has recovered from that stunt quite remarkably.
Some time later Graham mentioned that he is now shooting a movie called the 6th gun, a SciFi Western after a comic book series, where the guns have all supernatural powers.
Well, what should I say, when he innocently told us about this current project, Jed and Adam sneaked up to one of the microphones asking Graham how that went along if one had in mind his problems with horses. Once more we were lying under our chairs laughing.
Graham, all in all, seems to be quite a dangerous person though. Dangerous in a positive sense. All calm and composed to the outer world but with a great dose of sly humour lurking in the background. He was the initiator of the "infamous calendar". A calendar the actors had made as a gift to present to Peter Jackson on his birthday. If you think this calendar features professional shot studio closeups you are mistaken. All of them thought up quite decisive poses and all agree that Adam's was the best. Think car wash, think sexy girls from a Highschool movie and think the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and you are there.
Slight and little update on who had the calendar idea. It happened to be that Richard Armitage who plays Thorin Oakenshield attended an event in Australia on May 1st where the same question came up. He said, and I quote, "This was actually my idea. Don't let Graham McTavish tell you any different. This was my idea! It was Pete's 50th birthday and we decided we would create a Naked Dwarf Calendar. But of course you know what a naked dwarf looks like - we're loaded with padding. So that was the joke. So basically every Dwarf was a different month in various compromising positions in their fat suits or their colossus suits or whatever you call them. But there's only one copy which Peter owns. Fran wanted to make more but I said absolutely not! There's only one copy."
Popcorn Taxi's Hobbit Q&A with Richard Armitage, Sydney, May 1, 2013
According to Graham the calendar is now hanging in Peter Jackson's bathroom and he suggested after the question arose whether the pictures could find a way onto the internet, that we all go and visit Peter. The imagery alone had me in stitches. Imagine queues and queues of fans wrapping all around Wellington and patiently waiting to go to Peter's bathroom. If they took an entry fee, they could probably finance the next movies from that alone. LOL
A question about a favourite location to go to Graham answered with India where he had been before shooting with Sean Bean. All I thought when I heard that was "SHARPE!". I did not know that Graham was in Sharpe, have to re-watch Sharpe's Challenge. Graham is also quite good at imitating people, prominently at one point in his panel Sylvester Stallone while shooting Rambo...
...on a nest of ants located on top a nest of scorpions. Yuk!
To give the fans a sense of what the "dwarves" had to endure, especially at the already mentioned scene 88, while making the Hobbit, he brought one of his prosthetic arms along, tattoos included. I still don't know whether he smuggled it out from New Zealand or if he got permission. The arm is still needed since they will be shooting the "Battle of the Five Armies" coming May. Anyhow, two fans had the opportunity to put the arm on and none of them seemed to be too happy about the feel of it.
It was also Graham who revealed a certain something to be on, I think, the special extended DVD for The Hobbit, which I will not mention here in order to not to destroy the surprise. All I say is it got all of the dwarves and one particular Hobbit involved.
Last but definitely not least
There is certainly a lot more to tell, but I am old and my memory is no longer what it used to be. All I can say is that the entire weekend has felt like meeting family, fans and actors alike.
Usually I take a lot of pictures of anything I go to, but not this time. This time I enjoyed. That is why there are no pictures of the WETA panels and of Tommy Krappweis.
I must mention Daniel Falconer's and Paul Tobin's WETA panels. Very interesting and you would not think but very funny. At their panel "Designing the Dwarves" you could see how much thought and work went into creating the respective look for each of the dwarves and you could easily feel the passion behind it. Daniel asked afterwards the audience to raise the hand if we had seen The Hobbit more than 5 times. Loads of hands were up in the air. Daniel turned to Paul "see that is why we fit in here. They are like us."
Tommy Krappweis is an institution! Having been with his band "Harpo Speaks" at the very first time at last year's Ring*Con I looked very much forward to their concert. Although his brother could not make it, he brought a great replacement "Vera Klima". What a great voice she has! If Warner would allow it I really would love to get my hands on Harpo Speaks' version of Billy Boyd's song. The concert was awesome just like last year.
Also a big thank you to the fans who brought the Easter bunny to HobbitCon. On Sunday I found my Easter egg in the form of a small plastic bag filled with sweets and a big sign that said "I am an Easter Egg! You have found me, so you can keep me. Happy Easter from the Con-Bunnies".
The weekend went by way too quickly and soon the "Closing Ceremony" was upon us. Throughout the day fans had asked at the various panels whether the dwarves would perform the song of the Misty Mountains, and despite best effort the one or the other actor could not contain the excitement that they would, although Mark Ferguson tried also his best to get them cut off. After all it should have been a surprise.
And that was what exactly happened when all of the actors were on stage. They brought in two microphones and the hall became so silent you could hear a pin drop. Goosebump feeling through and through. Of course there were standing ovations afterwards and loads of applause, not just for the sung song but also for the entire weekend. It gives me a warm feeling inside thinking of Ring*Con. Who knows, perhaps the one or the other actor from The Hobbit might return or make a first appearance.
The Misty Mountains Song
Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To find our long forgotten gold.
The pines were roaring on the heights,
The winds were moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light.
Pssssssssssssst, Top Secret .... Not So Anymore
During the opening ceremony Mark Ferguson let drop several times that there will be Ring*Con 2013 perhaps with David Wenham (Faramir - Lord of the Rings). Most of the audience disregarded the remarks as being a tease or not being true or, oh shock, did not even know who David Wenham was.
Well, let's just say I got the very same information from a different source ... a source that is in the say and in the top organizer's rank. So expect David Wenham to attend Ring*Con 2013 unless something gets in-between workwise. And while I am lagging behind in writing this report FedCon announced David Wenham as a guest for Ring*Con 2013
Also quite promenently hinted at by Mark was the attendance of Craig Parker. What would be Ring*Con without these two!!!!
See you at Ring*Con 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness Premiere