The recent release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has inspired two Felton sisters to show the world that a rustic lifestyle befitting the creatures of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fancy is possible and fun in today’s modern world.
Kellie and Alex Rice created their “Happy Hobbit” how-to series of YouTube videos as part of their involvement with www.TheOneRing.net — a site for devotees of “The Lord of the Rings,” which details the events after Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”
Kellie Rice, 29, said she and her sister were inspired after meeting other dedicated Tolkien fans at the 2012 Comic-Con convention in San Diego and learning many had never lived outside of a city — something that came as a surprise to the Rices, who grew up in the rural San Lorenzo Valley.
Describing Middle Earth as “an echo of the world I live in,” Kellie Rice said the goal was to show viewers some of the aspects of a rural lifestyle — such as raising animals and winemaking — from the view of their Middle Earth alter egos “Kili” and “Fili.”
“The point of ‘Happy Hobbit’ is to bring Middle Earth into our everyday lives,” Kellie Rice said. “Let’s use Middle Earth to see if we can introduce people to a more rural way of life, which still exists.”
Most of the topics “Happy Hobbit” covers could just as easily be imagined taking place in one of Tolkien’s novels as in the San Lorenzo Valley.
“It’s really simple stuff that people just don’t know,” said Alex Rice, 21.
So far, the sisters have created 14 episodes since the show’s launch in October, all of which have been hosted on www.TheOneRing.net. They try to produce new episodes as often as possible, but as no one is paid, the shows happen when scheduling allows.
“This is a big Tolkien community,” Kellie Rice said. “That’s why I was drawn to ‘Lord of the Rings.’”
For Kellie Rice, who holds a master’s degree in creative writing and screenwriting from San Jose State University, making films with her sister has been a lifelong adventure.
“She’s been making movies with Alex since she was really little,” said their mother, Jacqui Rice. “They’re educational, but they also have a sense of humor.”
Alex Rice plans to study film in the fall at San Jose State, where she plans to major in radio, television and film.
“Happy Hobbit” has garnered a sizable following for the sisters.
Kellie and Alex Rice
They said they were frequently recognized at TheOneRing.net’s Academy Awards gala in Hollywood in February, volunteering with their mother, Jacqui Rice.
“That was really weird, being recognized,” Alex Rice said.
The Rice trio worked for several days before the website’s “The One Expected Party” event, turning the American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood from a vintage Art Deco-style facility into a portal into Middle Earth.
The décor included life-sized cave trolls and a 30-foot dragon tail, and fans spent the evening mingling with production crew and “Lord of the Rings” cast members, such as Billy Boyd who played the hobbit Pippin, and Dominic Monaghan who played fellow hobbit Merry.
“It was just beautiful,” said Jacqui Rice. “They all do this because they love it.”
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