Hobbit wannabes steadfast in their quest
They still don't have an invitation from Sir Peter Jackson, but the Middle-earth quest of three hobbit wannabes is about to begin.
Earlier this year, Utah students John Storey, 23, Jonathan Wright, 29, and Mitch Stevens, 22 – or Olo Bracegirdle, Toad and Berilac Bramble – began trying to attract the attention of The Hobbit director Jackson in a bid to be cast as extras in the two-part epic.
The Brigham Young University trio were so keen to be a part of the films that they created a website, complete with elaborately staged photos, to promote their cause and raise funds to pay for flights to New Zealand.
The invitation from Jackson was never forthcoming. In fact, his spokesman warned them not to make the trip here specially, saying the production company did not recruit from outside New Zealand.
Undaunted, the trio have now booked plane tickets to Wellington and will arrive here on January 31, their suitcases full of hobbit get-up, which they plan to wear for most of the two-week trip.
"I'm way excited about it," Mr Storey said. "We've been building up to this point for so long, so to actually come and do it is amazing."
Airline staff they met through their website have helped them arrange cheap "buddy" tickets to New Zealand, and offers of accommodation have been rolling in since The Dominion Post featured their quest in September.
"It's amazing how people have come out of the woodwork," Mr Wright said.
The trio have loved JRR Tolkien's stories since they were children. When he was 12, Mr Stevens even wrote a letter to Jackson – also unanswered – asking to be an extra in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. They were willing to be a part of The Hobbit in any way they could, even if they could not be extras, Mr Storey said.
"Anything for Weta, anything for Peter Jackson – just anything for anyone involved in the movies."
They hoped to make as many contacts as possible while in Wellington, as well as attracting support from Tolkien fans, with their stay fully devoted to The Hobbit.
"It's not like we're going to show up, knock on the door and if they say no, just go away."
They have cleared as many obstacles as possible before leaving, including getting working holiday visas.
And even if they never feature in the movies, the trio are still destined for a screen of some kind – they have decided to turn their quest into a documentary.
The Dominion Post