Given that I was going to be at the Calgary Expo for two days straight this year, I thought I would take the opportunity to attend a couple panels, something that I have never attended before.
For all those interested in filmmaking and/or acting, this is something that I definitely recommend attending sometime in the future. Panels are a great way to gain insight from the world of both Hollywood and television, and who better to hear it from than those who do this on a daily basis?
The first panel that we’re going to take a quick peak at is the Doctor Who panel featuring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan!
For those that don’t watch Doctor Who, Matt Smith played the Eleventh Doctor in the British television series and was of course joined by Karen Gillan who played the doctor’s companion, Amelia “Amy” Pond.
Unfortunately, I am one of those people who have never watched Doctor Who, so I can’t really talk much more about the series…
…but I can tell you that Matt Smith’s cell phone went off during the panel (which he answered)…
…and here is Matt and Karen showing everyone how they would try to make all new people on set feel as uncomfortable as possible.
Even though I have never watched the series before, I was quite enjoying myself at the Doctor Who panel. Sadly, it was pretty short and was over quickly…
…which means that we get to move on and look at the second panel that I attended (which was really more its own event), Middle Earth EXPOsed!
As the name suggests, this time we’ll be looking into The Lord Of The Rings (LOTR for short) and The Hobbit series with Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad) as our host.
He would also be joined by Weta’s creative director and co-founder, Richard Taylor!
I’m not exactly sure what Richard was up to here…
…but what I do know is that he was there to give a live demonstration on what it’s like to transform someone into a real life Orc!
The process is incredibly long and tedious, and while Richard was able to complete transformation for this fellow in just a couple of hours, the ones you see on the big screen can take anywhere from 3-4 hours to finish per person!
So while Richard started to work his magic…
…other guests from the LOTR series started to arrive on stage! Here we have Sadwyn Brophy who played Eldarion at only the age of five…
…then we have Craig Parker who played Haldir…
…and crowd favourite Billy Boyd who of course played Pippin…
…and last but not least, Sean Astin who was none other than Samwise Gamgee!
With everyone one stage, each actor started to go through what it was like being a part of the LOTR series.
They went through some of their favourite memories, some of the worst days on set where they had even considered quitting, and their own thoughts on the overall impact that the LOTR series has had on people in general.
One of the interesting moments that Billy Boyd brought up was when they were filming the scene when the fellowship arrives at the entrance to Moria. Just outside the entrance there is a lake that is home to some crazy Japanese looking tentacle monster (Watcher In The Water) which meant that this would be a wet scene to film.
Apparently it was very cold outside and that scene was filmed in a parking lot. Due to the prosthetic Hobbit feet that were attached to each actor, the water from the ground would get trapped in their feet and was also freezing cold! Also keep in mind that these people are outside for hours at a time with little to no breaks when it comes to filming. The life of a movie star!
This is just one example of the many hardships that the entire crew had to endure during filming. As some of you may know, all the chainmail was hand assembled as well, and I think it’s this kind of attention to detail that really made LOTR so groundbreaking for its time.
Over on the other side of the stage, Richard decided to take a moment to show the audience a slight issue he had run into with the size of the head cap that he had brought along.
No matter, he was able to work around this slight imperfection and continued on!
With one last wave goodbye to the audience…
…we welcomed our next set of guests on stage! This time we would be seeing cast members from The Hobbit such as Jed Brophy (Nori) who appeared on stage with a kendo stick…
…who was joined by Mark Hadlow (Dori) who had an enormous smile on his face…
…and Dean O’Gorman (Fili), who seemed to be quite excited to be on stage.
And then we have Manu Bennett (Azog) who arrived on, well, I actually have no idea what that is.
He too was armed with a kendo stick and wasted no time in challenging Jed to a duel!
As we all saw in The Desolation Of Smaug however…
…Jed made quick work of Manu and came out victorious!
With that over, the cast once again started to share their stories from their time on the set of The Hobbit.
Things have definitely changed since the days of when LOTR was filmed. Here Manu is explaining how he was completely transformed via CG for the role of Azog.
And here we have Jed and Mark demonstrating how awkward it was to walk for the roles of Nori and Dori!
They basically explained it as having to carry a bowling ball in-between your lefts while slouched over and walking. Not only did it look incredibly awkward, it also looks very uncomfortable!
Just like Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Doctor Who, Mark also played a little game with newcomers on set to try and make them feel as uncomfortable as possible.
As it turns out though, Mark is actually the one who got teased the most while on set. In fact, he was the one who got teased the most that night!
Not letting that get him down, Mark took a moment to sing a lovely song for everyone. Sadly, I have no idea what it was called.
Jed then went on to explained how each actor/actress was also trained in basic combat with swords, as Sadwyn is demonstrating here.
It really is pretty basic, with a total of eight strikes and eight counters. Pretty much anyone can do it…
…which is why one lucky member of the audience was invited up on stage to give it a go!
As you can see from this lads face however, he wasn’t really getting it.
He didn’t give up and Jed was happy to go a few more rounds with him…
…which led to a newly found confidence in this fellow…
…which then led to the rest of the crew wanting to get in on the action!
But not before their formalities first of course.
One by one, each cast member from The Hobbit made their way onto the stage to give this guy a run for his money…
…and they showed no mercy either!
Eventually everyone was on stage together and things started to get a little bit out of hand.
It wasn’t long before our hero was struck down by, well, everyone.
As it turns out though, this was no ordinary person, and was in fact Steve McMicheal, one of the sword masters for The Hobbit!
Mark apparently had troubles with the training that the cast was put through, and by troubles I mean he just couldn’t do it.
I’m sure he picked it up eventually though as I don’t recall anyone holding a sword like that in any of the movies…
After a quick check up on our resident orc…
…Mark and Craig went on to do a little improv in the form of “one word at a time”.
The idea is simple: the pair must tell a story together but can only say one word at a time (hence the name). The asked for a few suggestions for ideas from the crowed and came up with Radagast The Brown having to make it way to Calgary, but also had to include the use of an iceberg, a cow, and a hockey stick. Wouldn’t be Canada without a hockey stick!
This was probably one of the most ridiculous things that I have ever seen and well, lets just say that the story they came up with is not something you would tell your kids before bedtime.
The story itself went a little something like this: Radagast The Brown is told by his left bunny (seriously) that he must go to Calgary. He hopped onto his sleigh and cracked his whip, but the sleigh wouldn’t move. Just at that moment, he spotted a magnificent looking cow and leaped onto a large trampoline which then propelled him onto said magnificent cow. From there he spurred the cow into an erotic, er, gallop? Radagast ended up jumping into an ocean with the cow which caused the poor cow to drown. Miraculously, he was able to climb up onto an iceberg and while sitting on the giant block of ice a hockey team passed by, told Radagast that the Leafs suck, then handed him a hockey stick to use as a paddle so that he could make his way to Calgary. The End.
With that hilarious story wrapped up, the crew then went on to play another game.
This time they would be doing an improv of another book/movie series that had a huge impact on the industry: Harry Potter.
Now this was just as ridiculous as the last game, only this time everybody was a part of it. Once again, Craig and Mark would be doing the story telling, but this time the rest of the cast would be used as props, as shown here with Dean being Harry’s glasses.
Oh yeah, Harry also has a pair of self-dressing trousers.
Mark Ferguson was playing Hermione who was visiting Harry at home, but first had to open the door of Mark Hadlow. You see the trick to opening a door is to turn the door knob, something that was a bit of an issue here…
“Is that your wand, or are you just happy to see me?”
Here’s Billy Boyd doing his best Hedwig impression…
…and he was also carrying an important letter!
Without remembering the contents of the letter, everyone wasted no time and quickly hopped onto Hedwigs back for a ride.
Okay I really have no idea what was going on here.
Jed doing his thing with an imaginary wand and Dean appears to be riding a broom here.
It wasn’t long before Lord Voldemort made an appearance!
He quickly cast a spell…
…which left Harry and Hermione no choice but to fight back! Incase you’re wondering, Billy Boyd is the wand here.
To finish it off, A Thousand Years Of Pain!
With that matter settled…
…Harry and Hermione decided that they should kiss, but not without using protection first.
With the crazy antics over, things calmed down a bit with Mark, Dean, and Jed all performing Far Over The Misty Mountains!
The music didn’t stop there though as Jed then grabbed a guitar which of course meant he was about to sing I See Fire by Ed Sheeran…
…and to finish it all off, Billy Boyd performed The Edge Of Night for everyone!
After the mini concert, the orc transformation was finally complete!
Jed gave him a few quick lessons which included how to walk like an orc…
…as well as how to act and behave like an orc!
This was actually pretty cool to watch as it’s not every day that you get to see such elaborate makeup and costumes in action.
Lastly, the group wanted to do a short skit where our new orc would chase a couple of dwarves around. As you can see however, they had other things in mind.
That’s all from the Doctor Who panel, Middle Earth EXPOsed, as well as the Calgary Expo 2014! With how big this years event was, I can’t wait to see what the Expo crew has in store for next year as well as this years Edmonton Expo. Until next time!
Click HERE to view the full photo set on Flickr.
View part one of the Calgary Expo HERE!
View part two of the Calgary Expo HERE!