Category Archives: Q&As

5 Minutes with Mark Hadlow (Dori)

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A huge thank you to Dori for being part of the Red Carpet Tours family! He shared a few moments and memories with us.

Biggest Challenge

How was Dori going to take shape. Prosthetics, makeup, costume and weapons essentially were going to determine his look, but maintaining the character for nearly two years in production was going to be a major part of the challenge. I think what helped was the brothers back-story. Dori, Nori and Ori were a pretty close family! Sure, there were squabbles and dislikes but ultimately they had each other's backs. Blood is thicker than water.

Best Locations

It's so hard to choose one, because New Zealand is so amazing to travel anywhere. I think all of the locations were outstanding. Pelorus river was exciting, going down it in barrels and seeing the grandeur of Paradise valley in Queenstown. There was something special about every location. Just like the movies - we were on an adventure, and the journey within the journey was traveling to the locations.

Favourite Scene?

There were a number of them but probably the best was the barrels in the water race! A big water ride was built to shoot the close-up scenes in Upper Hutt in Wellington. It was like a Disney ride and we felt like kids in an amusement park. Two huge Diesel engines propelled water round this huge oval water channel the size of a football field and we got in barrels and were propelled around it we just had fun. It was brilliant, crazy and amazing. 

What's Next?

I'm trying to get a film a mate has written up and running, called SWANSONG. It's a cop serial-killer movie, and the script is a page-turner. Stef Harris is the writer/director, I'm playing a cop and Jed Brophy is playing the serial killer. It's compelling. We are working pretty hard at getting some finance together but the process is pretty slow. Takes forever to bankroll but we believe firmly in the project and will keep sourcing interest. I have a play later in the year for ATC and I've been cast in a film happening mid-year. My Navy work will pick up again with a new project, I hope, and my one-man-show MAMIL (Middle aged Man in Lycra) hopefully may get another couple of seasons. All in all there's a bit on the horizon!

Working with Red Carpet Tours

I am really enjoying meeting the fans on the Red Carpet Tours. I enjoy reliving the stories and the pictures as much as they do! Re-telling the excitement of days on set and the experience keeps it fresh in my ageing mind. I look forward to meeting more!

Favourite Lines

Probably the ones addressed to The Wizard himself, but there were a few in all the films so all of them I guess. Family squabbles with the brothers were good ones.

Lines Spoken to Ori:

  • "Just try it you might like it"
  • "Would you like a cup of camomile tea Mr Gandalf?"
  • "It's got a fruity bouquet"
  • "Mr Gandalf can't you do something about this deluge?"

Daniel Reeve Reflections - Artists Sketching and Photography Tour 2016

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What was your favourite part of the Artists Tour?

Impossible question! I always love going to Hobbiton, and I’d never had the evening banquet there before, so that was really nice. Trollshaws was also a new experience – loved it! Meeting Ian Hayman – what a character! All the locations are fantastic. I also loved walking on the Routeburn Track on Day 14. But perhaps the favourite part was seeing the artists flourish as they learned new skills and techniques, and so many people trying calligraphy and loving it. And the whole group bonding – it really is a fellowship by the time the tour is done.

Oh, and the earthquake was pretty impressive too!

How many years have you been working with Red Carpet Tours and how did you get involved?

I did my first presentations with Red Carpet Tours in 2004, after a chance meeting at an LOTR-related event. I’ve done the presentations ever since, apart from 2-3 years off while making The Hobbit. It has been a fascinating journey, and every group is unique – but invariably wonderful.

What's next for you in your incredible art world?

I’ve been asked to do a solo exhibition at the Kapiti Gallery this February-March, so I’m busy preparing for that. Oh, and I’ve just made new signage for Hobbiton – that’s a nice on-going relationship. There’s the possibility of working on Mortal Engines, but I won’t know that for a while - and if it happens, I won’t be able to tell you!

What is your top advice for fantasy artists and photographers?

Work on subjects for which you have a passion, as this will bring out your best. Think about composition. Use light for maximum advantage – it’s all about the light.

What is your favourite quote from Lotr or Hobbit trilogies?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.


The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can.

Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet.

And wither then? I cannot say.  


Not all those who wander are lost.

What's your best piece of advice for budding calligraphers?

Don’t get so good that you steal my job!

No, seriously, try ALL aspects of lettering – there are so many more facets to calligraphy than what I get time to demonstrate for Red Carpet folk. Do all the styles, use all the different tools, go really big and really small, invent alphabets, create a font – become multi-talented. Each part reinforces all the others.

And probably more than anything, SHOW your work, and learn from other people’s work.

Art from the tour


Meet Hobbit Actor John Callen

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John has worked for 40 years as a professional actor, director and writer in theatre, radio, film and television. He has performed in or directed more than 100 stage productions and more than two dozen television series, and narrated close to 150 documentaries, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

His experience as actor or director has covered everything from the absurd to the classical, including roles as Shylock and Polonius. He relished his recent experience playing the dwarf Oin in the core cast of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit.

We're excited to announce that John will be giving a special presentation at the welcome dinner for our March Highlights Tour!

Can you tell us about your character, Oin, from the Hobbit?

Oin is sometimes considered curmudgeonly but much of that is because he is hard of hearing. His brother Gloin is far more grumpy. As a close relative of Thorin Oakenshield he feels duty bound to be a part of the great adventure. He and Gloin put money into the venture. Oin is a healer and sees himself as “medic” on the journey. He is not afraid of a good fight though somewhat older than most of the others.

What was it like having to wear prosthetics, did you have to adjust your acting style?

An actor will change his or her acting style according the production in which they are performing. Oin was might “lighter” to play than, say Macbeth, for instance. The prosthetics were a new item of make-up for me, though I did once have a prosthetic nose for the role of Shylock. However, these were something else. I sweat a lot naturally but we all sweated very much.

What was the costume and weaponry like to wear and wield?

The costume was hot, very hot. With the prosthetic I was drinking water all day and hardly ever had to visit the loo … just as well for doing so with the many layers of costume, and the fat suit, made a toilet break a real mission. My costume weighed up to 25/28 kilograms with one day, carrying blankets and extra cloaks and additional travel bags, in the rain, my stuntman, the brilliant Ike Hamon, determined we were carrying 53 kilograms. (My wife weighs 55kg). The weapons were brilliant. I had a long fighting staff with a pointy ends and a leather strap. Since my arthritis prevented me from wearing the prosthetic hands I used woollen gloves. At one point Peter Jackson asked me to rush at the camera as if I was going to kill a goblin or orc beneath the camera. I rushed in, swung the staff over my head and brought it down with such force I smashed in on the concrete floor of the studio.

Do you have a highlight from the Hobbit trilogy?

It may sound corny but it really was meeting the team and developing a great relationship them all. As far as shooting was concerned the Pelorous River in the barrels will live forever with me.

The bond between the dwarves was obvious, have you kept in touch with them?

I had worked with all the Kiwi actors (directed Dean O’Gorman on Shortland Street when he was about 17 or 18) except Stephen Hunter. For me it was a treat to be alongside the other Kiwis and then we met the Irish, the British, the Scottish etc and we all blended brilliantly. I keep in touch with some of them on a regular basis but most of them from time to time. Only one, Dean, lives in Auckland. We did a voiceover together recently. Mark has become a family friend, and Peter I’ve known forever


Contact us for more information and to book the March Highlights Tour.

Q&A with Artist Daniel Reeve

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Fantasy Calligraphy and Cartography

It’s all in the details. To craft the perfect fantasy world, impeccable attention to the smallest detail is what makes the story come alive. These elements are the touch, feel, and cultural history of the characters and lore. In some cases it’s the maps, setting the scene and scope of vast planets or planes.

Meet the man behind some of the most subtly impactful pieces of the fantasy film genre. Daniel Reeve is a freelance artist from New Zealand, best-known for the calligraphy and cartography of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. His intricate work is also featured in the films Van Helsing, King Kong, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Dead Letters, The Warrior's Way, Underworld 3, Kingdom Come, Spartacus, Tintin and The Hobbit.  He has also worked on merchandise for The Pirates of the Caribbean and Prince Caspian.

We’re lucky to have Daniel as an associate of Red Carpet Tours, and he will be part of a special upcoming tour as our “Artist in Residence.”

5 Minutes with Daniel Reeve

Q: Daniel how did you get your start on the Lord of the Rings films as the official calligrapher?

A: I heard they were making a movie of my favourite book, so I created some calligraphy and sent it in to them. I asked if they didn't already have a 100 guys that could write in Elvish, would they consider me? My phone rang very quickly, that's the one thing they hadn't thought of in all the huge amount of pre-planning.

Q: Do you have any favourite pieces of work?

A: Every piece has its own merits, I enjoy creating the maps and the individual cartouches / borders for each one. I enjoy working on each piece of artwork and seeing it to completion.

Q: Have you been busy since the Hobbit films have finished?

A: Yes, it hasn't really stopped for me. I am still doing lots of projects to do with the films, DVDs and merchandise. I also have monthly presentations with the Red Carpet Tours fellowships here in Wellington and will be mentoring a special Artists Sketching and Photography Tour with Red Carpet Tours. I am really looking forward to this special tour, 7th - 20th November 2016. I hope to see many familiar faces returning for this Tour.