Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve

The last day of the year is here.

New Year's Eve.

I have to say, for a Dutchie, that's a strange word. The Eve before New Year, we call it Old Year's Day (oudejaarsdag). Both are of course correct, but the word New Year a day ahead, strange?! In Eastern Europe they call it Sylvester, because it is the celebration day for Saint Sylvester. But than, the Germans also "slide" into New Year. They wish everybody "einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr" (a good slide into the New Year). They are probably partying big time!

The evening is celebrated amongst family and friends. Having some food, playing games or watching TV.

Just before midnight, the champagne is pulled from the cooler so that everybody has a glass in their hands to welcome the new year and leave behind an old one. And wishing everybody a very happy new year.

And than, to make it an even bigger party, fireworks. In most places in the world it is an organised big fireworks display (for instance from the Sydney Harbour Bridge), in The Netherlands we all fire our own fireworks. That is a lot of noise and smoke in the air those first few hours of the new year. Yes, the first few hours. Don't expect to go to bed before 2, because you will be woken up by somebody who did find a new batch to fire off.

Closing the stories of this year and starting new stories for a fresh new year.

See you in 2014!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Growing up in music

Growing up. One big story. Everyday something new to discover. Listening to the stories of others, your parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, brothers and sisters. And telling your own story.

Songwriters use this concept also.

I found two wonderful examples.

One of growing up and one of staying young:

Growing up, the ever changing fantasies happening to kids:
Taylor Swift, ft. Ed Sheeran; Everything has changed

Staying young:
Death Cab for Cutie; Stay young, go dancing

Since I already passed the age of young, I'll just keep dancing.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Storyteller

Ah, the childhood memories come drifting up as I'm writing this.

One of my favourite series when I was young.

The storyteller

When people told themselves their past with stories.
Explained their present with stories.
Foretold their future with stories.
The best place by the fire was kept for The Storyteller.

Produced by Jim Henson (from The Muppets) with John Hurt as The Storyteller (as I told you earlier, that voice, he can do no wrong for me). The stories are based on the lesser well known European folk tales. It aired in 1986 with 9 episodes and got a spin off with 4 episodes about Greek mythology.

A lot of (now) famous actors played along together with puppets from Jim Henson's studio. 

For my Lord of the Rings-friends. Check out this one and see who you recognize.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

TED talk - The clues to a great story

TED talks for who don't know them, they are amazing.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started as a conference in 1984 with a vision of Ideas Worth Spreading. There are still TED Conferences on the West Coats of the United States. But also many spin offs like TEDx, where communities or organisations can get together to organise their own TED Conference.

TED brings together great minds, who share their great idea in 18 minutes or less.

To be able to share your great idea in 18 minutes, you have to be a good storyteller. To get the audience drawn into your idea and to share your story when they are going home.

This TED talk is by Andrew Stanton, an American film director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor at Pixar Animation Studios. He was involved in Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, John Carter and much more. (A couple of my favourite movies.)

He shares his story on how storytelling should be done.

(For my Dutch friends - a version with Dutch subtitles)

A few of his ideas:
- Make your audience care!
- The unifying theorie of 2 + 2 (don't tell your audience it is 4, let them find it out by themselves).
- "Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty." Does your audience want to know what is going to happen next, and added a bit of doubt, if all will end well?
- Know what the theme of your story is. What is the spine of your main character.
- Can you evoke wonder for your audience?
- Use what you know, capture from you own experience, express values you believe in.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Transmedia storytelling

First let me explain what Transmedia storytelling is. It is telling a story using multiple platforms and formats to tell a story. Usually using digital media. But it can also use more traditional media, like books.

Since we are still in the Christmas spirit, I'm going to use a very Christmassy example to explain Transmedia storytelling. 

The Elf on the Shelf.

It started out in 2005 with a book about a little elf. Who comes to the home of children to help Santa with checking who is naughty or nice. He musn't be touched, because he carries Christmas magic, that is very fragile. And during the night, he returns to the North Pole to report to Santa. Returning in the morning for a new day among the family.

Shortly after the book there was an animated movie about the Elf.

And now, you can adopt your own Elf. Who lives in your home. And returns in the night to the North Pole. So you never know where he will show up the next morning.

Some Elfs tend to make a mess out of their home. Others just move around the home to see what is going on.

Through internet you can write to Santa, where he might also reply.

And there is a very lively community on Pinterest, where all the mums are sharing the trouble they have with the elf. Because he himself can be very naughty.

So in terms of storytelling the Elf has a book, an animated movie, a website, stores, the elf himself and a big community of fans (and haters) who share their stories. Those are a lot of various platform to tell a story.

And with the digital media, it is really easy to share the story. I came across it on Pinterest, never heard about it before or even having seen the elf himself. But the story did come to me and now I'm sharing it with you.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas stories

First of all, a very merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

Christmas is of course a wonderful time for storytelling. There are so many stories involving Christmas. The ancient stories, the religous stories, the commercial stories.

Let's mention a few.

The stories surrounding the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere, which is on December 21st. After that the nights get shorter and the days longer. Celebrating the return of light with using lights everywhere. Like in trees (hello Christmas tree) and burning the Yule-log.

The birth of Jesus Christ
Telling the story of the birth of a little baby boy on December 25th 0. Born in a manger in Bethlehem because the inns didn't have place for his mother Mary and father Joseph. Heralded by angels and welcomed by the shepherds and their sheep. Getting visits from 3 Kings following a star. And being hunted by a mad king. Now that is a story! After Easter the biggest holiday in Christianity. 

Commercial Christmas
The stories involving lots of presents, lots of eating and being together with friends and family. The story of Santa Claus. He comes from various cultures, also from the Dutch Sinterklaas. Bringing gifts to children. Coca Cola used him very smart to boost their sales. Winter is of course downtime for cold drinks. But with introducing Santa in their commercials around Christmas time in the 1930s, the got a a big boost to their sales and setting a tradition of Coca Cola being a partner in Christmas with their distinct description of the jolly fat guy and nowadays their lighted Coca Cola Trucks.
With loads of songs, singing about family, being together and snow. A fact I find very funny, since most people in the world won't see snow on Christmas. But by now it is so common to associate snow with Christmas, that when I was traveling to New Zealand with a stop-over in Kuala Lumpur, the hotel lobby was decorated with snow flakes, while outside it was 30C.

No matter what you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day. Share the story of this day with your friends and family.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Corporate Christmas storytelling

Christmas time is known as the season of giving. The season where we take a little closer look at the people around us. Those who can use a little extra help. Or those who have helped you, to thank them for it.

WestJet Airlines made one of their flights unforgetable for their customers. When leaving from the Hamilton Airport on their flight to Toronto the passengers were greeted by a Santa who asked them what they would like to have for Christmas.

A big surprise waited for them when the arrived in Toronto!

Of course it is "just" a marketing stunt. But this video has been watched 32 million times (talking about going viral!). What a great way to tell your corporate story. And they do more things like this. When you watch it on YouTube, on the right side there are also April Fools from WestJet and other Christmas specials.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Singing into Christmas

Christmas songs (or Christmas Carols, what a lovely word) are probably as old as the celebration of Christmas is.

All tell you the story of Christmas and, hopefully, you'll sing a long.

Silent Night, one of the songs that belongs to Christmas for me, dates back to 1818, when it was first sung in an Austrian village (but of course in German, Stille Nacht). This refers to the Catholic believes around Christmas.
St Thomas Boys Choir - Stille Nacht

A little more modern day songs tell more about the joys of Christmas. Being together with your loved ones, enjoying time together, good food and presents.
Nat King Cole - Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

And than there are the songs that try to persuade you to do some good for the world around Christmas time. It is of course the time for caring. Usually for friends and family. But why not for a complete stranger in another part of the world, who is having a really hard time.
Band Aid - Do they know it is Christmas

It already dates back from 1984, has had an update in 2000, but this remains for me the best. A song with a message for Christmas time.

And the next song, I just love! They only play it on the radio during Christmas time. And while the song isn't really about Christmas. It does reflect for me the spirit of Christmas. Being together, doing things together.
Paul McCartney - We all stand together

What's your favourite Christmas song?

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Once upon a time

Earlier this week I wrote about fairy tales. And mostly talking about the books.

But fairy tales of course also come to the screen. Either movies or tv series.

ABC has been broadcasting Once Upon A Time.

A wonderful series if you love fairy tales, exciting storytelling and being surprised. They show you what would happen if all the beloved fairy tale characters would be banned from their magic kingdom and brought into the world as we know it. Where they don't know who they really are, just ordinary people living together in a small city, Storybrooke. But the audience is also shown what happened in their original world. When they still were fairy tale characters. What happened that brought them into our world? And what do they have to do, to be together as the fairy tales have always put them together. Because, as always, true love concurs all.

A wonderful parade of all well known characters is brought to the screen. And as a viewer fun to watch and guess who is who. And how they will safe their world.

This is the trailer for the first series. In the mean time they are already at season 3 and making a spin off Once Upon A Time In Wonderland.

If you like fairy tales and good tv series, try it! I'm a fan!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Winter Tale

The Christmas time brings Christmas commercials.

And I love the one Cartier is using this year, Winter Tale.

I wouldn't mind if that cute leopard would bring along one of the delivery guys to bring me such a little red box.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Fairy tales

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there lived a beautiful princess.

Fairy tales, one of the first stories we get familiar with in our lives. I remember my dad reading them to me and my brother. From these big books with beautiful pictures in them, so I could see what my father was reading to us. Tales from Hans Christian Andersen, the brothers Grimm or Mother Goose.

Although nowadays fairy tales are mostly associated with stories for children. They used to be told to adults. Because when you want to tell somebody something important, you best wrap it in a very good story. That way the message will be remembered. And if the story is exceptionally good, even be told along. (Remember my post about rumour?)

Fairy tales are very old. Once they were told and carried around the world by mouth. Around 1725 the Brothers Grimm started collecting all the tales they heard in their homeland Germany. To preserve them for future generations. 

Little Red Riding Hood is known to have been around a long time before 1500. And tales somewhat similar are known around the entire world. But that is of course because the message from that tale "Listen to your mother" is a world wide message.

What makes a fairy tale? The way a fairy tale is told is normally the same. The unlikely person to be the hero (a girl with a little red hood, the poor daughter, the beggar) gets some help (from a hunter, a fairy god-mother or a prince) to become the hero of the story. But first, there has to go something wrong (eaten by a wolf, losing a glass slipper, being caught in the castle). It will always end on a happy note. And a fairy tale is usually set in a world where magic still is around. Where witches, leprechauns, fairies and magical animals live.

Current written fairy tales are now labelled Fantasy. But The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Narnia and the Disc World-series are of course also fairy tales.

There is a lot to be told about fairy tales. But I'm off to my real world, try to get everything fixed with my magic wand to make sure ...

... all lived happily ever after.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Six word stories

Can you tell a story in just six words?

Ernest Hemingway claims his best story is:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

I have to say, a very sad story. Never worn baby shoes, which probably means there never was a baby. Dreadful to think about.
And what an impact, with just six words!

What would be a good six word story when thinking about storytelling and my blog?

- And they lived happily..., did they?

- Have you heard the latest news?

- What is your story for today?

- There's a story for every day!

- In a hole in the ground.

Can you tell me your story in six words? Please do!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Seasons greetings

Once every year, you tell your story to your friends and family.
When writing your Christmas cards.

Sending your best wishes around the world. Maybe mentioning something exciting that has happened during the past year, or something that both of you are looking forward to in the next year.

This week I have been writing my cards.
The ones to friends from far away are already in the mail. The ones for friends and family in The Netherlands will go in the mail this week. So hopefully all will be in time for Christmas.

Did you tell your story to all your loved ones? Otherwise, you still have a week before it is Christmas!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

De Efteling

You have corporate storytelling.
But what if you make storytelling to be your corporate business?

Here in The Netherlands we have The Efteling. Founded in 1933 with a Fairy Tale Forest started in 1952, now a World of Wonders.

It is a large forest where the various characters from beloved fairy tales have taken their residence. Sleeping Beauty sleeps here in her castle, with the other inhabitants of the castle fast a sleep, except for one.... the witch is spinning her wool. Little Red Riding Hood is at the door of grandmothers cottage (where, when you peek through the window, you actually see she is not in her bed, but the big bad wolf is). The dwarfs are mourning Snow White who they carefully put in her glass coffin, surrounded by the animals from the woods. And Rapunzel is letting her hair down, but who is climbing up, yes, the witch. 

All fairy tales come together here, displayed in their various homes in a luscious green forest. Where a narrator tells you the story and at some places you can even read the story in a big book.

Everything in the park is themed around various stories, thrill rides, restaurants, shops, even the bathrooms and the waste bins. 

If you want to experience a bit of what I'm talking about. Look here.

Surrounded by stories, you feel like you are walking in a storybook come to life. A childhood dream, that will take everybody back to the wonderful world of fairy tales.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Clouds - for Zach

I can't tell the story any better than Adam Mordecai from Upworthy can. So I'm just going to redirect you to their site. Read it all and watch the video.

Clouds - for Zach

To have your story told, even when you have left this world! How wonderful!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Book to movie adaptations - The Hobbit

Nothing harder than turning a book into a movie. One type of storytelling turning into another. But such different ways of storytelling.

In a book you can explain, tell what people think, how they feel. In a movie you have to show. You can let the person say it out loud, but it still is different than somebody reading about it.

And when reading people use their own imagination, what they know about live, what they have experienced, how they see the world, to complete the story. A movie shows the vision of the director and screenwriter on the story.

With a beloved book like The Hobbit it is even harder. The book has been around since 1937, millions of people have read it. Know it almost by heart and have their favourite characters. But the movie is showing what Peter Jackson thinks the characters looks like.

I'm going to use The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug to explain.

Beorn, "He is a skin-changer. He changes his skin: sometimes he is a huge black bear, sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man with huge arms and a great beard."
From this I have always seen a big, broad man. Not a giant, but a muscular, black haired man. Very large, both tall and wide To use an image, more like Hagrid from Harry Potter, only stronger, more muscles.
And what does Beorn looks like according to Peter Jackson 
It does fit in the movie, although I see more a cat than a bear in him.

Another part is spot on with what I had figured:
"Before his huge doors of stone a river ran out of the heights of the forest"
This is what it looks like in the movie:

But maybe somebody living in a different part of the world and having seen rivers of a very different kind their entire life, will have a completely different vision.

What do you think? Have you ever seen a movie that was spot on with what you had read in the book? Or something that was completely different? Please, do tell.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug - movie

And after the book, there came the movies.

Last year An Unexpected Journey (AUJ for short) and this week The Desolation of Smaug (DOS for short).

The movie is now also released in the USA, so I can now tell a bit more about it than that I liked it (and sorry to the Aussies, who still have to wait till Boxing Day).

First, this is not The Hobbit book turned into a movie. This is a movie that takes some clues from the book The Hobbit. Some parts stay very true, others you will never ever find in the book. But at some points, all of a sudden, you watch the movie and think, "Hey, those lines I do remember from the book".

This is a much more action filled movie than the first one. It doesn't need to introduce much more extra characters and in AUJ we were left in the middle of action, not in quiet Bag End. 

First we meet Beorn, the huge skin changer. Unfortunately he doesn't look like what I had in mind from the book. But I loved the way his home looked and those giant bees. Although I did miss the dinner scene where the animals serve the dinner to the dwarves.

Mirkwood wasn't as scary as I always read it in the books. With the more played out hallucinogenic effects of the forest it became fun to watch. The spiders remained scary and I really liked how they let the spiders talk. 
The elves I liked very much. Thranduil is so very arrogant, well played! It was fun to see Legolas here and I thoroughly enjoyed Tauriel. Even when she isn't in the books, she fitted in the story. And for people worried about that so much rumoured "love triangle" it isn't that, it is more of a start of a friendship and a mutual understanding than love. 
And "my wee-lad Gimli" woohoo, so much fun to hear that.

The escape in the barrels. Hello action-scene. I loved the set-up, with Bilbo putting down his foot those dwarves had to listen to him. The entire scene was a bit too much for me, with the orcs chasing the dwarves, the elves chasing the orcs and the dwarves, elves running over dwarven heads, Bombur being catapulted into the air, tumbling over orcs, smashing them with a hammer. I had a laugh, but it was a bit overdone.

Laketown and Bard look amazing. As do The Master and Alfrid. The Master, yikes, dirty, sticky, smelly, brrrr, well played! 

But after this the story deviates a lot, for me too much, from the book. Thorin leaving behind dwarves in Laketown? Why? They should travel together to the Lonely Mountain! And why is Bilbo the one having to force the dwarves to stay for the opening of the door? Dwarves would never have given up so easily when they are finally at the mountain. They would have camped there for months to get that door to open, not 5 minutes. As if they were afraid to sleep in the dark outside?

And than to the name sake of the movie, hello Smaug, the stupendous, the magnificent! He looked amazing, the movements were spectacular, he is huge, the voice very smooth. Only ... where is that plate of gold and jewels on his chest? That's one of the things I took most from the book. That crust of jewels with the one patch missing. Now there is a patch missing, but that was damaged during his previous attack on Dale. 

The scene in the mountain is very spectacular, a slow build up with Bilbo and Smaug and later with the dwarves a high speed chase through the mountain. Getting to see much more of the inside of Erebor this time around. Although I thought the scene with the golden statue was a bit overdone, I loved the effect it gave on Smaug!

And than finally the ending, how unfair! I think I could hear Peter Jackson giggling somewhere in the back. A major build up to one of the major events of the movie and than ... end credits. I was like a fish on the dry, gasping for air. How unfair. Or, how very clever, because now I have to see the next movie (as if I wasn't going to).

All in all, a fun action filled movie. But don't expect a book adaptation.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Hobbit - the book

Before there was the movie (or right now two, and next year even three), there was the Book - The Hobbit. Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, published by George Allen & Unwin in 1937. And why? Because the proof reader of the book, Rayner Unwin, aged 10, liked the book. He gave it the okay because he thought the book was entertaining for kids and the images and map in the book helped also.

What a great way to give a childrens book a go. Let your kid read it, and if they like it, it is okay.

And it actually is a childrens book. Hard to believe when you have seen the first two movies, because they are not a typical Disney movie.

The book starts with the very famous line: "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.". This Hobbit is Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who has never any adventures. But Gandalf, the wizard thinks he can use an adventure and sets it up so 13 dwarves come together at Bilbo's house and take him with them on a quest to their homeland, Erebor. To reclaim it from Smaug the dragon, who has taken it, together with all the treasures inside.

As if that isn't already exciting enough. On their way they encounter trolls (with a talking purse), goblins, get rescued by eagles, sleep in the home of a skin changer (man and bear), get lost in an elvenwood, almost eaten by spiders, trapped in the dungeons of the elvenking, have to escape in barrels to a lake city. And than find a way inside a mountain where there is a live dragon.

The books is a classical heroes adventure. To set out, get in trouble, with some help get out of the trouble, and in the end, all ends well. With a narrator, telling the reader what is actually happening, what Bilbo is thinking or what the dwarves are actually doing.

An exciting book, fun to read, even for adults. And if you want to get an easy introduction into the world of Middle-earth, start here!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Dress to tell your story

It is officially known as cosplay, but most people will call it dress up or costuming. To dress as your favourite character from a book or movie. And tell a story with what you look like.

This week at the Premiere of the Desolation of Smaug I saw some amazing costumes. 

Most of these costumes are hand made by the people who wear them. Watching the movie several times to see what the costume looks like. Looking at pictures for the details in stitching or accessories. Spending hours looking for the correct fabric. And with armour it also takes hours to make chain mail or plating. Some people may smile at the thought, dressing up. But it takes up hours of time and dedication to finish a costume. And it isn't cheap.

But on the other hand, it also is lots of fun to do, especially when it is your favourite character. To have your costume finished, wearing it, becoming that character for a while. And especially when others see which character you are and want to take pictures of your or with you.

Some examples from the premiere:
An elven lady and a tall Bilbo with cloaks

Two Hobbits

Amazing cloaks. Hand stitched!

That's not movie-Thorin, but she, yes those are all ladies, comes very close.

Thranduil x2

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug - European Premiere

By popular demand, half a day earlier than my blog normally is due. My story about the European Premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Berlin. And be warned, this will be long!

Wow, what an event. At the first part of the day, I wasn't so very sure. It was cold, it was raining, I was there all by myself. And I didn't get a front row spot (even when I was there a little before 8AM, when the event started at 6.30 PM).

But with an aching back, sore and cold feet, I decided to stay. And it sure was worth it. After a while there were three nice ladies standing next to me, from Prague and Berlin. We started chatting and counting down the hours, making the wait so much better.

The winning costumes
And of course people watching. At first the other fans. Some in such a perfect costume. There was a group close to us with Thranduil, Thorin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Dis and a Hobbit lady. They almost looked like the real deal (and to add, they did win tickets to go see the movie that night! Very well deserved!)

What's that??

What was almost more fun was watching the people who didn't know what was going on. They just came to visit Postdamer Platz. And all of a sudden barriers, lots of costumed people and other people, well bundled up. The looks on their faces was priceless. First a bit astound, but after that a laughter and taking pictures of all the people and the costumed ones.

Some local companies took the event for some good business. The local Starbucks came around with coffee. And the two guys... Elrond and Thranduil! Clever!

The long wait was broken by the people from Air New Zealand. First handing out sheets with an image from the movie, on which you could collect autographs.
And later with hot chocolate and coffee, with a great sleeve "Smauging Hot". These people really know how to embrace the world of Middle-earth.

Around 6PM they started with a live broadcast. So you could have joined in (and I know a few of you have done so). Update 11/12/13: here is a short impression from Warner Brothers: link (and if you look at 1.09, there is John Bell talking to the amazing costumed Fili and Kili, behind them a girl in a white hat and behind her somebody with a strange purple/blueish hat... yes I made it into the moving images!

By 6.30PM the first stars started to arrive. Beginning with Martin Freeman and James Nesbitt. But they got rushed past us. Oh, oh, I hoped that wouldn't be the case for the rest of the evening, stars just getting rushed past us.
But they were brought to the stage for an interview with the hosts and later Martin Freeman returned to the red carpet for autographs.

After that the stars caming pooring in. A warning ahead, some of the pictures are blurry. You have to imagine holding Brian Sibleys Official Movie Guide in one hand, in the other your camera, while squeezing in between the people in front of you while 6 rows of people behind you are pushing you towards the front with books, pieces of paper and pens are in your hair. I won't post all, some are so blurry they make me motion sick while looking at them.

James Nesbitts daughters Mary and Peggy, who play the children of Bard the Bowman and his wife, who plays Belladonna Took, Bilbo's mother.

Dan and Chris Hennah (it helps to watch the appendices a lot, I was the only one around me who recognised them, so they were happy to sign my book).

Philippa Boyens. This time I got an autograph and the chance to thank her for what she is doing for the movies.

Richard Armitage (Thorin). Who is making a habit out of crossing the red carpet just before he is where I'm standing. So no autograph, again... But at least a good picture.

Ed Sheeran, wrong side of the carpet. I had hoped he would perform "I see fire" but unfortunately he didn't.

Luke Evans (Bard), with a signature in my book.

Martin Freeman, on his way back to the stage. Taking loads of time for the fans, giving out autographs and making pictures (those actors sure have to be handy with cameras and selfies).

Sylvester McCoy (Radagast), wrong side of the carpet, but a picture. I love how he comes to premieres in those quirky coats, top hat and cane. 

Adam Brown (Ori) and Graham McTavish (Dwalin). Both an autograph!

Ryan Cage (Alfrid). New in Desolation of Smaug so not yet recognised by a lot of people, but my pre-work of looking up the pictures of the actors helped and he gladly signed my book. (He is in the picture with Sylvester McCoy, in the black suit).

Mikael Persbrandt (Beorn). Also new in the movie and not a very well known actor. So when I called out to him, somebody from (I think) Warner Brothers or at least somebody with a say in what the actors do, directed him to me, because I recognised him!

John Bell (Bain, son of Bard). Also new, very young, but such a sweetheart. Dressed in a kilt, jumping up and down because he got to sign autographs and have pictures taken. And introducing his mum, who was with him, to everybody.

Ken Stott (Balin). He signed my book and I got a chance to thank him for his role as Balin. I think he does a magnificent portrayal!

Andy Serkiss (Gollum), wrong side of the carpet. This time no high fiving the entire red carpet, Probably due to the wetness of the red carpet.

Dean O'Gorman (Fili). Got an autograph, but it was so crazy that I forgot to take a picture.

Aidan Turner (Kili). He crossed to the other side of the carpet a few people before me, and came back a few people after me.

Peter Jackson! Yes, the man himself. He took so much time with all the fans. I think he signed for everybody in the first three rows, on both sides of the red carpet. Really taking his time (and he touched my book!!! Yes it was in his hands.) And he brought his daughter Katie with him. (And in the picture, a top the white hat, that's Aidan Turner)

Benedict Cumberbatch (the Necromancer/Smaug and of course Sherlock!). He signed my book and added something. I'm still trying to decipher, but you may help... what does it say?

Orlando Bloom. Yes, even Legolas was in Berlin. I thought he would be in New York for Romeo and Julliette, but apparantly the play stopped just before the entire Desolation of Smaug frenzy started. Never thought I would be able to meet him in real life and get an autograph, but I did!

Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel). Unfortunately on the wrong side of the carpet. She was wearing a wonderful dress, and good on her, a warm coat over it.

And I did spot a few people from behind the scenes. I'm sure I saw Ra Vincent (set dresser), but he walked by pretty fast. And a couple of the guys from, I think, sound design or special effects. But they were having too much fun taking pictures of the crowd and themselves on the red carpet.

While the various stars were on the red carpet the hosts talked with the stars who already made it to the stage. I did hear a bit, but a lot not with all the shouting (myself and the others). So I also have to rewatch the broadcast, to hear what they were saying.

When all stars had come through, the hosts went onto the red carpet to hand out tickets to the screening (with the stars). No ticket for me, but that isn't too bad, since I will be seeing a double screening tonight.

And they had some gold coins from Smaugs hoard to hand out. One of those I really wanted... but didn't get it.
Oh well, not that bad. I had an amazing time.

This was so much better than the one I had seen online from LA. Of course being there always gives a different feel. But here the emphasize was on the public and the stars, not the hosts.

And after that, standing on my feet for 13 hours, I was just glad to be able to sit down, give my feet a rest, go through my pictures. And now, on my way home from Berlin (hello 6 hour train ride) writing this.

It really was amazing. Wellington was a wee bit better with the location, the weather and the amount of dwarves present. But this was an amazing experience.

Any questions, feel free to ask!