Back in August, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Spadaccino (you can view that interview here), a wonderful man whom I befriended after posting an article on my blog about his campaign to be in ‘The Hobbit’ films. With the recent release of the first trailer for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,’ I thought a follow-up interview with Patrick was in order.
What sparked your interest in being in The Hobbit, and when did you first begin planning your campaign?
I saw a magazine cover (Entertainment Weekly) that talked about the movie and the fact that Peter Jackson might be playing a much larger role in the production than was originally reported. When that turned out to be true, I thought that with him at the helm, this was going to an utterly amazing production and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of a story I've loved since childhood.
My campaign was born as a simple idea: create a video of myself doing various Tolkien-themed character voices. But that idea went nowhere because I had no clue (at the time) how to get it to Peter or his team. Then, in February 2011, with the first day of Hobbit filming approaching, I had the idea to leverage some of my other abilities: web design, acting, stage makeup, and photography. So many people have used the power of social media to reach a desired goal; why not me, too?
What was the initial reaction from friends and family like, and has it changed at all since this began?
They're used to my creative bent, so most of them viewed this as business as usual. Some, while they admired the effort, thought that a successful outcome was always an impossible long shot. Maybe true, but I believe in the impossible! I live by faith in all things, great and small. If this was part of God's plan for me, it couldn't be stopped. But I still had to play my part. I'd spent a long time dreaming of this campaign; now it was time to act. My wife has been very supportive, although she found the sight of me in Orc makeup very disturbing.
How many different sources have you reached out to in order to get the word out about your campaign?
Too many to count or remember, although I do have records somewhere in the disaster area that is my desk. I've reached out mostly to newspapers and TV news stations, and also approached several talk show hosts. I have received a lot of wonderful, generous coverage in New Zealand, which was ideal. But I've never heard from anyone on the production team.
What are some of the craziest ideas you’ve thought of (or that have been suggested to you) to help spread the word about your campaign?
Three come to mind. One person suggested I go to New York in full Orc makeup and costume and try to get on the Today show. Not a bad idea, but I was in some ways strapped by practicality. I have a day job, and I had to set some limits on taking time off and spending money on this campaign.
The other idea was not so much crazy as crazy expensive. I wanted to pay for a billboard in New Zealand, right on the road leading to Weta Digital. But the cost was astronomical for someone like me.
Lastly, my childhood friend suggested, and I quote: "Go naked. That'll get his attention." Sigh.
What have you learned about public relations and promoting yourself from this experience?
I learned a surprising lesson: though the world has been made much smaller by technology, it can still be a HUGE undertaking to reach a single person. I mean, I'm ranked fifth in a Google search with the keywords "hobbit movies." Fifth! Marketers pay big bucks for that kind of search engine success. And yet, no one from Peter Jackson's team has seen my site, or if they have, they are not interested in contacting me.
Still, I learned a great deal about the value of internet ads. They were very effective in gaining initial support. I also learned not to be discouraged by "haters," of which there were refreshingly few. If you believe in what you're doing, you can ignore unkind remarks.
For anyone who has plans to do something similar, what advice do you have?
Be prepared to be PATIENT, and never take offense when people don't seem to be interested in your endeavor. After all, it's your dream. If you want other people to get on board, you have to sell it and make sure you're visible in the right areas (something I'm still not sure I achieved). Lastly, if you're going to do something, do it with passion, do it with all your heart, and do it believing that you can be successful.
Have you thought about writing something based on your adventure, such as a personal journal or an online blog?
My brother actually recommend I do that. I already journal every day, so I at least have a private record. I'd love to create a more public account, but I think that such a chronicle would be far more interesting if it ended with my name in the credits of The Hobbit movie!
What did you think of The Hobbit trailer?
I loved seeing and hearing Gandalf and Bilbo once again! As wonderfully long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy is, my wife and I always come away saying "I wish it was longer!" We've yearned for more of that wonderful world that Tolkien created and Peter Jackson so vividly, beautifully brought to life.
I did notice a lot of dialog I didn't recognize, but that's to be expected. There is a large amount of narrative in The Hobbit book, so a lot of the interactions between characters will have to be filled in.
There was nothing I didn't like in the trailer itself...it just made me desperately impatient for December 2012. I will reserve judgment about some of the dwarf costumes and characterizations. A lifetime of reading The Hobbit has left me with some of my own particular expectations, and the photos we've seen so far are not always as close to the book's descriptions as some Tolkien fans would like. But bottom line: I have faith in Peter Jackson's vision. ...and regarding the trailer as it relates to my campaign, I still think there's time for me to be involved. I'm really not particular about where I fit in...I'd even be happy as an Easter Egg segment on the Blu-ray!
If the Hobbit movies wrap without you, what will you take away the experience?
I am intensely proud that instead of just dreaming about this, I actually went out and did it. There were some personal commitments in the fall that kept me from doing everything I would have liked, but I'm still grateful I was able to pursue my dream in this way. I do struggle with procrastination, and I'm glad I successfully bucked that tendency.
I'm very thankful for all the support I received from people whom I've never met face to face. The Tolkien community is truly a community, and it's been great becoming a more active part in it. Most important, I've made some wonderful friends along the way—my gracious interviewer chief among them!
Interested in learning more about Patrick’s campaign to be in ‘The Hobbit’? Our initial interview, which includes more about Patrick and the process of getting into Orc character for his audition videos, can be found here. And show your support by following him on Twitter (@BeInTheHobbit), liking his Facebook page, and visiting his webpage!