On Monday I will embark on a 14-day guided Lord Of The Rings Tour across the amazing landscapes of New Zealand!
When I was a young teenager in Germany, I sat in some doctor’s waiting room and flicked through the magazines and when I opened a page showing a beautiful lake with magnificent mountains in the background, tears started running down my face.
I read the text under the photo and it said that this was New Zealand.
I don’t know why, but this place cut deep into my heart and a flood of wanderlust poured out. I knew I had to go there. Some day I had to go there.
Still today, I do not know why New Zealand has this kind of effect on me, but it still does and the Lord Of The Rings movies had only amplified this feeling.
The movies hit me during turbulent times in my life and I drew many parallels that will probably connect me to them forever.
The Fellowship Of The Ring
Since my childhood I had dreamed to become a music video producer and after an internship at a video production company in 1996, I managed to get a spot for an apprenticeship at the same place in 1999.
Watching The Fellowship Of The Ring in the cinema was part of our 2001 Christmas party, the last one I would have with this team as I was to conclude my education and officially become an “Audio-visual Media Producer” a few months later. The beginning of my journey.
Unfortunately I couldn’t connect to the movie at all as I hadn’t read the books. I knew they existed, but I hadn’t read them. It was a bit different growing up in Germany. This was not necessarily literature that was included in our education.
It also didn’t help that a bunch of noisy teenagers kept disrupting the movie all the way through.
The Two Towers
In 2002 I had successfully passed the tests and became a certified video producer. At the age of 23 I started my own business and it would cost me dearly.
It was the year the Euro had come to Germany and the country felt unstable, my parents got divorced and I was left in a battle between them while trying to keep myself afloat.
Around Christmas that year, The Two Towers hit the theatres and I had decided not to read the Lord Of The Rings books until I had seen all three movies.
I had my own battles to fight and focus on anyway.
The struggle was real.
I had found out that my boyfriend at the time, who was living with me, had cheated on me with a man.
A few months later my band, which had looked quite promising after an agent had discovered us, had split up because our singer became an alcoholic BEFORE we were rockstars.
My business just wouldn’t pick up, because besides the financial scare for everyone, also the music industry started to struggle with the effects of Napster. My dream of becoming a music video producer started fading rapidly.
I barely managed to pay my rent each month, trying to earn money shooting crappy wedding videos.
The Return Of The King
The third movie was published in winter 2003, one of the darkest times of my life. I was heavily depressed, compensating with eating.
I gained 20 kg in three months and literally had clothes ripping off my body.
I was a mess.
Finally, early 2004 I moved away to a different town in Germany, hoping for a new start and maybe the Return of the Queen?
But she didn’t return. The battles weren’t won yet.
I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, finding myself partially paralized, the dream of a new beginning shattered.
(Luckily things went almost back to normal a few weeks after, but I am still fighting with the effects of the disease)
A friend used my car to run errands for me and got into an accident with the car being totalled. My symbol of freedom destroyed.
This was when I broke.
I had stayed very strong, just taking the punches life threw me, but finally I lost control and each day and each night was filled with me crying, not being able to do anything else than that. Crying.
I managed to get a referral to a nerve clinic, where I got taken care of, trying to stitch my life back together.
Everything was gone: partner, band, family, finances, career, health and freedom. I had nothing left. It was all gone and it was a dangerous time.
But I never looked for an ending, not this time. The suicide attempt that I had as a 15-year old would never be repeated as I had decided to enjoy my life, make the best of it. And despite this not being the best, I tried so hard to find an exit, a way to figure it out how to start again.
The decision was clear. I needed a REAL new start. I looked for inspiration. I found it in my favourite band at the time, Life of Agony singing “Shed my skin and start again” and “If I knew how to fly, I’d know how to fly away”.
And I found it in The Lord The Rings. I devoured the books, the extended versions of the movies and every single piece of bonus material I could find. I realised how much I had lived and struggled alongside Frodo the last few years, but that I hadn’t found my happy ending yet.
The eye was still glowing in Mordor.
It was Gandalf’s words that finally opened my mind to solutions:
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
That was it. I needed to start my journey, my own adventure, to fix all this and be happy.
A letter to Peter Jackson
In late 2004 when I was back home and I had made the decision to leave Germany for a fresh start, I wrote a letter to Peter Jackson to WingNut Films in New Zealand.
I explained how much I loved his work on the Lord Of the Rings, how much it all meant to me and that I had just finished my education and a few years of self-employment as a video producer.
And I wrote that once he started working on the Hobbit, I would love to be a part of it.
My CV and a lot of hope was attached.
New Zealand was on my list anyway, but it would have cost me €5,000 to go for a year and I just didn’t have that kind of money. So, I had made the decision to go to England, had payed €900 to join a “work experience” program to improve my English and have guaranteed work for one year.
Then I got a letter from New Zealand. WingNut had replied.
My hands were shaking and I think I cried before I even opened the letter. It was written in a very sweet way, thanking me for my application, but informing me that it was not clear yet, if Peter Jackson would actually direct The Hobbit as they didn’t own the rights yet.
Instead they attached the address for the King Kong production to apply there to work with Peter Jackson.
I never did apply. I had chosen my path, and it was going to England with the plan to then work my way around the world. New Zealand had to wait.
In August 2005 I left Germany and all my belongings fit into a backpack. I was ready for a new start.
Low and behold, I found my new start and I ended up working in the gaming industry for ten years.
This also gave me the opportunity to meet Sean Astin at a charity poker event in Monte Carlo. He was awesome!
I wish I had had a Samwise Gamshee in my times of struggle.
I’m going on an adventure
Now, in 2019, I have once again reduced all my belongings to only two bags and I am at the beginning of a 3-month round-the-world trip.
I am sitting here in Auckland, New Zealand, and my journey into Middle Earth is about to begin.
My credit card had not been happy about my purchase of this expensive Lord Of The Rings sightseeing tour all across New Zealand. But it was necessary!
I will proudly show off my Elvish tattoo during the next two weeks and keep telling everyone that I once had the chance to work on the Hobbit…