Tuesday, November 5, 2013. A day that will live in infamy. A day I will never forget. The day I met Peter Jackson.
Ok, well, I didn’t *meet* him per say, but I listened to him speak for several hours and sat 15 feet from him. That counts right?
Tuesday dawned just like any other day, bright and too damn early for my taste. I only arrived back in Wellington 5 days before, and I was still fighting jetlag and the nasty 12 time zone difference from Italy, AND get settled in my new house.
Did I mention I am living with three 19 year old girls? What was I thinking?!
Well, I know what I was thinking. I was thinking it was cheap and it was the best place I found in Wellington. The view from my room ain’t too bad either. And it turns out the girls are pretty awesome too, though they make me feel old sometimes.
I had recently acquired a bed and a desk, and even a clock and mirror, which is more furniture than I’ve ever purchased at once. Little-known fact: furniture is FLIPPING expensive in New Zealand. Everything is imported and there is no IKEA and no equivalent of IKEA, so even secondhand it’s like a fight to the death to find reasonably priced furniture.
Filled with a sudden urge to domesticate, I got addicted to TradeMe, New Zealand’s version of Ebay. Searching for furniture to fill my empty room, I happened upon an IKEA reading chair and footstool. I owned a similar one years ago in Massachusetts and loved it. Finding one in NZ is the equivalent of finding some rare, special chair. This one would be mine.
After a mild bidding war, I won the chair for a lofty $102, or better said, the chair one me, for that price.
It turns out the woman who was selling it had shipped all her furniture over a decade ago to Wellington from the UK. So in fact, I paid the same price for a 10 year old chair in New Zealand as it would have cost exactly the same BRAND NEW in America today.
Oh, expat life is full of these beautiful little ironies, right?
But I digress.
On November 5th, also known as the best day of 2013, I got up super early to go pick up my prize. My new place is in Kelburn in Wellington, which is near the university, and after 9am, it’s hard to find parking near my house because all the youths descend for classes, so I wanted to get a good spot to unload my massive new chair.
Of course I didn’t find a spot nearby (damn youths!) and had to carry an enormous chair up a giant hill in my laundry day sweatpants looking all disheveled.
But who cares because victory was mine and I had a fabulous new chair to work in. With footstool.
At approximately 9:35 in the morning, I was sitting in my room in my beautiful new (very old) IKEA chair drinking a cup of French press coffee and eating muesli with my feet propped up. The sun was shining and I even had my windows open.
Little did he know that would be the Instagram that would change my whole life. Dun dun dun.
It was a photo of the Embassy Theatre in downtown Wellington tagged with the message Hobbit movie fan event WITH Peter Jackson.
With. Peter. Jackson.
OH MY GOD!
Spitting out my cereal, I stood up and sat down, and stood up and sat down again before deciding what to do.
Bordering on having a kanipshin, I quickly began harassing Cole on Facebook chat.
How did I not know about this event? HOW?
Since the day I planned to move to New Zealand and most definitely since I arrived, it has been on my to-do list to find, stalk and meet Peter Jackson – now was my chance!
Except we didn’t have tickets.
Lucky for me Cole is much more social media-apt than I am, and quickly found someone who was looking to giveaway tickets on Twitter. Turns out she won them in a contest the night before but was in Australia and couldn’t make it. As bad as I should feel if I was in her position, I guess I didn’t feel THAT bad because this was my chance to meet PJ.
And time wasn’t on our side because at this point it was around 9:50 and the event doors closed to fans at 10:30.
With no shame I joined in the tweet discussion, offering her anything and everything for those 2 tickets. $100. A puppy. My first born child.
“Ah don’t worry about it,” she replied, “I’m just happy someone was able to get to use them when I couldn’t.” Oh my god, she was serious. Like I’ve said, Kiwis are the nicest people in the world.
Bursting into my roommate’s bedroom, waking her up, I hollered, “can I print something PLEASE? It’s a life or death situation.”
Within the space of 7 minutes, I had printed the tickets, threw on some clothes and was rushing off to my car to drive downtown to meet Cole.
Queuing up to go inside, I finally looked at the tickets which clearly stated at the top “Nikki….+ guest” and in big words “Non-transferable.”
Oh crap, fingers crossed hoping they weren’t checking ID’s to match the names, we made our way forward in line. I mean, I could be a Nikki, right? Trying to act cool, they let us pass through without a problem into the theater where we signed a nondisclosure that we wouldn’t give any spoilers away while making our way upstairs.
At this point I couldn’t believe we made it inside; I was in shock. I was also shocked by the amount of people in costume. Intricate, hand-made costumes.
Ok, I’ve always considered myself to be in the highest tier of LOTR fandom (I have a Tolkien tattoo and I’m getting another one), but for some reason I don’t really do costumes. Well, not at 10 in the morning on Tuesday dead sober that is. Though if I had had more advance warning of this event, I might have made an exception.
These fans put me to shame.
Milling about upstairs with every nerd in Wellington (I found my place!) I began to wonder what was in store for us. It turns out that the Hobbit Fan Event was a world-wide coordinated event where different cast members met up with fans in different cities like London and LA, showing sneak-peeks and behind the scenes cuts from the new Hobbit movie – the Desolation of Smaug, and the interviews were streamed live on screen so people in every city could see what was going on at the other events, and so fans in one city could ask the stars in a different city questions. Confusing, right?
While some places got Orlando Bloom or Evangeline Lilly (psh) I was more than thrilled to be at the event with Peter Jackson himself and Jed Brophy, a Kiwi who has been in all of PJ’s films and who plays Nori the dwarf in the Hobbit trilogy.
Since we were some of the last fans to enter the building, we were at the back of the line heading down into the theater. Joking that we would be in the nosebleed seats, imagine my surprise when we were wandering in down by the stage and one of the ushers pointed us to seats right in the front of the stage!
Today was my lucky day or what?!
Getting comfortable, we rifled through the gift bags left for us and started munching on popcorn, waiting for everything to get started.
The next three hours were some of the best so far in Wellington. I had a total fan-girl moment when Peter Jackson walked out on stage, my god, talk about a dream come true!
Did I mention he was barefoot?
Surprisingly enough, it’s not THAT unusual in New Zealand. Hippy quirks aside, there are an intriguing amount of people who like to walk around in public in this country without shoes on. I don’t get it. It’s not like New Zealand is warm, dry and tropical by any means. Anyone care to elaborate on this phenomenon?
But he’s THE Peter Jackson – who cares? If anything, it convinced me more that he is actually a hobbit in real life.
Listening to him speak about the movies, the filming process, how the techniques have evolved from the original Lord of the Rings movies from a decade (holy crap, has it really been a decade?) ago up until was fascinating. In fact, he is a very fascinating person who clearly lives in his own creative world. Did you know they haven’t even finished cutting and editing the next Hobbit movie and it comes out in less than a month?
For any fans out there, I am not going to give away anything about the new movie – we got to watch almost 30 minutes of footage from it – but I can say it looks epic, intense, and of course, awesome!
Even after the broadcasting of the event was over, PJ stuck around for a long while answering questions from people in the crowd (not me, unfortunately, because I didn’t have a damn costume), though I had a really good question – I’m curious about how he feels about turning New Zealand into Middle Earth.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like NZ was not really well-known and certainly not touristic before the films, but now it has exploded here and I think it mostly has to do with him. Not even a question really, just a thought – what do you guys think?
While this event may not seem like a big deal to most of the known world, for me it was fucking huge. I’ve talked about this before, but I owe SO MUCH to Peter Jackson for making these movies. I’ve loved the books since I was a little girl and could basically read chapter books, but he blew life back into them for me in high school.
His vision, his determination and his creativity brought those books alive again for millions of people around the world, me included. But most importantly, he put New Zealand in my mind for over 10 years.
And here I am now, following my dreams and not only visiting, but living in a place that was at the top of my travel list for a decade AND is simultaneously Middle Earth for me. Writing this now, I can barely find the words to say how much that means to me.
And not only that Peter Jackson is a true inspiration for me as a writer and content creator. Here’s a local Kiwi from Wellington, New Zealand – a place at the end of the world not so different from Frodo or Bilbo in the Shire, who had a camera and a big idea and was able to not only turn these books into reality but create a world for millions of people that is unforgettable. If that’s not inspirational for each and every one of us, I don’t know what is.
So it’s probably a good thing they didn’t let me ask any questions because I probably would have fainted, giggled uncontrollably, cried or forgotten my own name (or all of the above). Next time PJ!
Have you ever gotten to listen to an idol of yours speak in person? Ever met someone famous or someone you look up to? Spill!