Happy Hobbit Trails

Rooster Teeth pair take 'A Simple Walk Into Mordor'

"We're definitely more the computer person, video game body type personality." Chis Demarais on how he and Kerry Shawcross took 'A Simple Walk Into Mordor'

Did you know it's only 120 miles from Bag End to Mount Doom? Well, it's 120 miles from Matamata to Mount Ngauruhoe, the locations used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sounds easy, right? Rooster Teeth's Kerry Shawcross,Chris Demarais and their new project A Simple Walk Into Mordor might convince you otherwise.

It's a proudly and profoundly nerdy road trip. The pair, both hardened JRR Tolkien fans, decided to hike between the two most famous locations in Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy and his upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit. The idea came to Shawcross when he read a shooting location list online. He said, "Everybody knew where the Hobbits were filmed, but I saw on that list the location of Mount Doom. I never knew it was a place that they had filmed, I thought it was all digital, I wonder how close the two sets are, because that's the probably the closest real world trek that we have to the one that we saw in the movies." It turns out that, in real life, the two locations are a lot closer than their onscreen counterparts. "For some reason, I thought, I could do 120 miles. Hey, Chris, you like these movies. Can you do 120 miles?"

Er, guys? Didn't you hear Boromir? "One doesn't simply walk into Mordor."

The idea snowballed into a full-fledged trip to New Zealand. Demarais had worked with fellow UT grad/erstwhile Oprah favorite Zach Anner on his travel documentaries, but neither he nor Shawcross had ever really hiked anywhere. "We're definitely more the computer person, video game body type personality," said Demarais. His one night under a canvas as a kid at camp trumped Shawcross' zero hiking experience, but that scarcely prepared either of them for six and a half days across the rolling hills and rising volcanic slopes of the South Pacific nation. "It was a rude awakening," he said. Still, Anner proved an inspiration to them, especially on those low moments when the appeal of public transport or a friendly lift beckoned. Demarais said, "He's in a wheelchair. If he can do a travel show, then we can do it."

Even with Hobbit garb, walking sticks, tents, two waterproof cameras, 12 camera batteries, 500Gb of SD memory cards, and, of course, fake hairy feet, the duo still depended on their New Zealand cameraman/quarter master/general savior Nick. "He's half the reason we made it as far as we did," said Shawcross. "He's definitely in much better shape than we were, and knew the land a lot better, and could push us and keep us going."

Demarais added, "He's definitely much towards Aragorn or Strider, rather than Gollum."

The duo deliberately avoided roads and easy routes, keeping instead to paths and river beds. This drew some curious looks from the natives. Demarais said, "Every time we'd run into people, it would be farmers and hikers, and when we'd explain what we're doing, people think we're crazy." It didn't help their case that the pair didn't wash or have a change of clothing across the whole week-long excursion. "By the end of it, we looked like crazy homeless people."

And were all the blisters and miles of trudging across fields and forests on the other side of the world? Demarais said, "The scenery is everything you think it would be, and then some."

A Simple Walk Into Mordor episode one is up now at Roosterteeth.com and BlipTV.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Rooster Teeth
Division Head Steps Down at Rooster Teeth Animation
Division Head Steps Down at Rooster Teeth Animation
Studio to address worker stress, conditions

Richard Whittaker, June 17, 2019

David Tennant Joins Cast of <i>Gen:LOCK</i>
David Tennant Joins Cast of Gen:LOCK
Doctor Who star cast alongside Michael B. Jordan in Rooster Teeth Show

Richard Whittaker, July 30, 2018

More by Richard Whittaker
Austin Film News: From A(nimation) to Z(ombies)
Austin Film News: From A(nimation) to Z(ombies)
Production updates from around town and just beyond city limits

June 21, 2019

French animation gives translucent life to a family history of surviving the Khmer Rouge

June 21, 2019


Rooster Teeth, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, New Zealand, Matamata, Bag End, Hobiton, The Shire, Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Doom, Kerry Shawcross, Chris Demarais

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle