The Fellowship Movie: The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers

This was the official website for the 2010 film, The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers.
Content is from the site's 2008 -2013 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.

Learn film making as we journey through our film "The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers".

Rating: NR
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy
Directed By: Ron Newcomb
Written By: Ron Newcomb, Scott Mathias, Christopher Bunn
In Theaters: Dec 3, 2013  limited
On Disc/Streaming: Dec 3, 2013
Runtime: 92 minutes


Trailer for THE FELLOWS HIP: Rise of the Gamers



Ron Newcomb & Scott Matthias launch OPENING ACT PRODUCTIONS.

On May 1, 2008, Ron & Scott began their journey as independent film makers.
• The Fellowship, During their quest to become Lord of the Ring video game champs, a group of geeks become a true fellowship and learns that there’s a little bit of geek—and hero—in all of us.     


Who we are:

Opening Act Productions, LLC™ (OAP)   is in business to produce theatrical motion pictures. We develop and produce high quality, innovative entertaining content that also is thought-provoking, and ultimately, inspiring.

OAP will not focus on one style or genre, but remain sensitive to current trends. We believe that a compelling, entertaining story coupled with quality of craft (and the right mix of marketing) will attract a mass audience. Beginning with the feature film currently titled, The Fellowship, a coming-of-age, Lord of the Rings-inspired comedy.

Opening Act Productions, LLC™ (OAP)

Are we looking for scripts?

At this time we have a plenty of scripts to last us awhile. We can’t accept unsolicited scripts at this time.

Can I get involved?

Absolutely! We are always looking to help others advance and get involved with their own filmmaking careers. Contact us and let us know your experience and interest.

How can I help movies get made?

Indie Films are always in need of "Grass Roots" support. Help this film get made by going to Support Us and enter your e-mail and state that you want The Fellowship  movie made.




Edited Interview

The Road to Mordor: A talk with the crew of The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers
Justin Olivetti

Buzz has been increasing about an intriguing independent film that looks to blend Tolkien love, geek pride, and Lord of the Rings Online fandom into one epic adventure. Called The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers, this movie is about a group of friends who undertake a journey to a convention in order to participate in a LotRO gaming competition (and stick it to some bullies while they're at it).

Many blogs, such as LOTRO Reporter and A Casual Stroll to Mordor, have promoted this up-and-coming film, and after seeing the trailer, we too became fascinated with what could be a fun movie that puts MMO gaming front and center.

One may not simply walk into Mordor, but with the right connections, one could phone the folks up there. We got on the line with three crew members for The Fellows Hip -- Ron Newcomb (producer, director and writer), Scott Mathais (producer and writer), and Shane McClung (producer) -- to see just what type of lovable insanity would cause a group of people to throw together such a movie.

Ron: We began with a story that we could tell. It's a story that resonates with the fact that we are big Tolkien fans and gamers. It's a story we wanted to see and that we felt hadn't been told as of yet. The Fellows Hip is not a goofy parody; it is a story that reflects an epic, though comedic, journey that we all might like to go on one day.

How long has the film been in production? How much of it is complete at this point?

Ron: We started almost two years ago now and filmed in August 2009. We are about 80% complete; we just have a few more visual effects and a bit of sound design, and then we are going to complete our color correction to give it that high-cinematic look.

Scott: With writing, it started back in 2007. It's been a long but exciting road -- moments of despair and moments of great fun, just like any journey. We're the four hobbits minus one.

Did I see... Tom Bombadil in that trailer? Tell me, does he skip and sing?

Ron: Ahhh... perhaps you did! Not only does he skip and sing, but he also bandies about while flashing his huge sterling silver statement rings (his manager later corrected me, saying they were not statement rings, but rather stylish sterling silver rings via, to draw attention to the movement of his hands. Since this is not a parody but more of a parallel, many characters take on the essence and character traits of the characters we love, including Tom.

Scott: That character is a mix of Bombadil, Elrond, Gandalf and maybe even Galadriel -- all the wise characters of The Lord of the Rings. We definitely gave him a Bombadillian (is that a word?) bent, knowing Tom was a character that we and other fans missed in the films.

Shane: The fun thing is this story; you will see a lot of parallels to LotR characters, but the characters in the story will also have traits of more than just one LotR character. Many fans will also recognize parallels to some of the cult-classic '80s movies that Ron, Scott and I all grew up with.

How long have you been playing LotRO, what's your class, and what's your favorite place in Middle-earth?


Ron: I always like to play as if I were there in Middle-earth. I have tried many variations, but my main is a Human Champion. And I'm pretty simple when it comes to Middle-earth. Though I enjoy Rivendell, I believe I still go back to the noob land of The Shire. I remember seeing Aragorn for the first time at the Prancing Pony -- now that was awesome!

Scott: I'm really a noob, so my time in LotRO doesn't amount to much, though I want to spend more time there. I did, however, play a level 65 Dwarf Guardian for the film. Alas, that character was provided especially by Turbine for only a short time and no longer exists. It's hard to go back. I journeyed up around Fornost and that area for awhile. It was really cool-looking and dangerous, not something you really get to know in the books or films.

Shane: I have been playing MMOs for a long time and really enjoy the depth of the stories and characters in LotRO. This is not a hack-and-slash game; it is a game where you actually picture yourself as the character and develop many skills, crafting abilities, hobbies, friends and fellowships. You are a part of the story, and you can see how you affect the game itself. My two favorite characters are my Hunter and Rune-keeper. As for favorite places, I would have to say I really enjoy the mines of Moria; Moria has a very extensive and well-done atmosphere. However, Turbine did an amazing job with the scenery visuals in the entire realm. I find myself just stopping and looking around, seeing how the world changes from daytime and nighttime.

From the trailer, it looks like the movie is inspired by the Peter Jackson films, the online game, and game conventions. Why the blend of these three? Are you worried that the film's references will go over the heads of people who haven't played the MMO?

Ron: When trying to go after a customer, you try to reach as specific as you can and you end up hitting the masses (that's the plan anyway). If we were too vague, it would not hit our fans where we wanted to and would have been just another indie film on the shelf. No, this is for gamers, convention attendees, and those who love them.

I'm a huge fan of what Peter Jackson did on film, so much that I flew to New Zealand a few years back. Tolkien introduced to a huge world in my mind; Peter Jackson put meat on the bones and brought it to life for me. I'm very visual, so what Peter Jackson pulled off was amazing. If we can create an homage to Mr. Jackson -- I would be honored.

On a fun side note, we did use his name in the film, and of course we had to get permission, so we put a thank-you to Mr. Jackson in the film, which is now listed on IMDB. If you look up Mr. Jackson and scroll way down -- there we are.

Shane: Most movies have references that most people will not recognize, but they are there for those who do. But all people will enjoy the film, and you don't have to recognize or understand the references to follow the story and enjoy The Fellows Hip.

What's your favorite fan convention?

Ron: I think DragonCon does the best fan-based convention. The organizers really seem to care about their fan base and really have fun with it. Atlanta goes all out with letting them host a huge parade where they shut down the streets for them and everything. It's a blast! Though I'm looking forward to some of my more local conventions in the DC area.

Scott: That's been our favorite so far. We've only been to a couple with the film but hope to make it to more.

Shane: Agreed, love DragonCon.

Are you still pursuing a theatrical release or are going straight to DVD?

Shane: Theatrical is something we're striving for. The main thing of note, though, is there are new ways to get the film to the fans, and we will be exploring and trying to release it all the ways available: theatrical, DVD, BluRay, OnDemand, TV and all digital forms domestic and international.

Did you get permission from Turbine to use in-game footage?

Ron: Absolutely. The Turbine folks were great to work with and went above and beyond to help us out -- including putting us on our own server and decking us out with uber toons.

Scott: Well, it wasn't our server, but one of the internal test servers. They also gave us some special powers so we didn't have to die if we didn't want to. It was cool, and like Ron said, they've been great to work with. To work with us like they have shows they're really for the fans.

Shane: Turbine has been wonderful, and by extension of their license, so has been Middle-earth Enterprises;  both gave us permissions to use the LotRO and LotR references and visuals. Both companies have great people and we hold them all in high regard.




"Rise of the Fellowship" Hits Netflix on January 3rd, 2013 

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic 


Winner of the GenCon 2012 Film Festival, Rise of the Fellowship is, as one might expect, a low-budget geek love song to the ultimate geek epic films, the Lord of the Rings trilogy (especially Fellowship of the Ring). Scheduled to arrive on Netflix on January 3rd, Rise of the Fellowship has been making some waves on the indie circuit and on DVD.

Far more a tribute than an actual parody, though I suppose one could argue it weaves together both elements, Rise of the Fellowship centers around a group of ultra-geeky friends who embark on an "epic journey" with obstacles and threats along the way. They lose a prized possession along the way, and it takes all the courage they can muster to work through everything they face.

The film has also played at the Richmond International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Fear & Fantasy Film Festival, a pretty clear sign that it's aimed squarely at the fantasy movie-going fan and will easily get the most chuckles of familiarity from those familiar with all things Tolkien. Randall (Justin Moe) is a geek surrounded by even geekier friends. He works in a game shop, not a bad gig for someone who spends all his time gaming when he's not daydreaming about Stacey (Emma Earnest, which would be a kickass geek porn name), the school's prettiest cheerleader who, of course, happens to be dating a jock/bully. He's got a mother who doesn't understand him, a brother who bullies him, and friends who are such geeks that even the game shop owner wants to keep them out.

Everything changes when Randall learns about the Lord of the Rings gaming competition in Florida, a competition that seems a natural fit for Randall and his friends and offers, just maybe, a chance for their lives to have some meaning. The film's parodying elements are at times quite strong, with a good majority of the scenes playing as awfully familiar for anyone who knows the movies. While a lot of films, especially parodies, tend to cross that line into poking fun of its subject matter, Rise of the Fellowship is clearly intended as a loving tribute to its inspiration and, even when the film falters in terms of production and performance, its overall likability keeps it afloat.

The script, from director Ron Newcomb along with Scott Mathias and Christopher Bunn, is inconsistent but occasionally quite funny and, once again, never less than likable. Among the key players, lead Justin Moe is the most effective and seems like the kind of young man you'd have found in some of the early John Hughes films. Those who surround him are a bit more hit-and-miss, though Ms. Earnest has a winning screen presence and Wolf Sherrill definitely gives the film some abundant laughs.

D.P. Brian Pennington lenses the film quite nicely use the RED One , while Dale Clay's music is effective throughout in doing a sort of wink at the LOTR films while giving the film a rhythm all its own.

While there's nothing about Rise of the Fellowship that's going to blow you away, those who would like a rather easygoing and breezy latenight view on Netflix may very well appreciate what Newcomb and his cast and crew have accomplished. For more information on the film, visit its website linked to in the credits.

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Reviews

***½  Eric P
December 14, 2013
Rise of the Fellowship is a glorious love letter to both the Lord of the Rings and the world of gaming, with just a touch of John Hughes for seasoning.
We are introduced to a quartet of dedicated young geeks who go to school and play Lord of the Rings Online together while trying to avoid the typically abusive jock squad. This and other tropes such as our hero Randall being hopelessly In love with the lead cheerleader will be very familiar to anyone who grew up watching movies in the 1980's.
Things take an interesting turn though when a Lord of the Rings Online competition is announced and the jocks attempt to beat the geeks at their own game. They seem to do so but only through the use of trickery and in order to right this wrong, Randall, Stacy, Squirelly and Nate set out on an epic quest for truth, justice and the gamer way.
Astute fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will notice that Rise of the Fellowship plays homage to many elements from those movies and even crafts its own storyline to roughly follow that of the trilogy. Since this is only one movie and not three, that mechanism leads to certain things getting a bit muddled and hurried at some points but overall, it works.
The acting is surprisingly good, especially considering that it is a small independent film, with the standout being the film's director who plays Randall's older brother Stan. The character development is also handled well, with one possible exception. But as that is tied to a significant plot twist others may find it justified.
Finally, the film also gets high marks for its sound track and topnotch production values. All of these elements combine to make a film that will be appreciated by many for the light-hearted homage and geek rallying cry that it is. Definitely give it a look!


***** Lovro H
December 3, 2013
Oh yeah! This was freaking epic! Lord of the Rings Online in a movie! Finally! This was a very good comedy film about 4 friends trying to win a "Lord of the Rings Online gaming competition" and on the trip to the convention they run into a series of events similiar to the ones described in the books and the movies. It was very interesting to watch, and I would really like to see more movies like this!


***** Travis N
December 3, 2013
I freakin' love this movie! Great family film that my kids are asking to watch all of the time. and, what a great homage to LOTR / The Hobbit! Tolkien would be proud!


***** David S
December 1, 2013
Sheer Brilliance!! Loved it :) Sometimes these spoof films can be rotten tomatoes! On this particular occasion it's a real Peach!! It's a must see :)


Dawn N
November 29, 2013
This is an awesome film for the whole family. You will fall in love with the geeks and root them on to the end. This is a fun loving film with some very funny scenes that will make you laugh out loud! Don't miss this film for your next family movie night!


***** Private U
November 28, 2013
This fun family film has it all: action, adventure, romance, and humor! Gamers and Lord of the Rings fans will enjoy all the references, too!


Opening Act Productions BLOG POSTS 2012 - 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to find out who’s really in charge of a film?


Filmmaking is a team sport, but who’s in charge? Well, there are many people who make it happen, but at the core are the producers. The producer is the one who shepherds the production from start to finish. And there are many variations of producers: executive producer, producer, co-producer and associate producer.
An “executive producer” is usually someone who secures at least 25 percent of the film’s budget. He or she rarely has any creative control over the project or much involvement beyond funding. An executive producer also can be involved in several projects at one time.
A “co-executive producer” generally applies to a studio exec or distributor who has financing involved as well. 
A “co-producer” works under the producer and helps with casting, financing and post-production.
A “line producer” is the person on set who primarily supervises the budget and business issues, generally staying clear of the creative aspects.
An “associate producer” is given usually as a position of reward or favor for a job well done. The title can be offered for many reasons from funding to incentives on set or during production.
The “producer” is the one who brings on a writer and assists with developing an idea, buys a script or secures rights. He or she often hires the director, supervises casting, and assembles a crew. The producer oversees the budget and then coordinates the post-production work—everything from editing, to hiring a person to score the film, to encouraging the talent to promote the movie however they can.
In the independent world, the producer is the one who finds the money and makes it all happen. There’s a new rising responsibility to the producer role for indies, however. A producer also should be someone who can keep his or her eye on the prize by helping develop an audience for the film early on in the process. He or she bangs the drum and lets the world know the film is out there.
The only thing from preventing you from making your project happen might be finding the right producer.
Posted by Ron Newcomb

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

TFH: At Look into the character Nate Bingley – Fearful to Fearless


Now that I (Ron) have had some time to reflect on our film, “The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers,” I find that one of the characters I really have enjoyed has been Nate Bingley, played by Cole Matson. For a film, a character changes at least three times. That’s once when you write him, once when the actor owns him and once then in the editing room by how the editor (Brian) portrays him.

Who is Nate? Nate is a scaredy-cat; one who is a momma’s boy and never wants to leave home. He’s happy where he finds himself. He’s not the adventurer… or so he thinks.

But it’s through the love of his friends and his loyalty that he is called out of his comfort zone. He must leave his safe haven to right a wrong. When he is thrown into the adventure, he is at first excited and ready for the challenge. But at the onset of his first test, he almost falls apart. With each step doubt creeps in. That is until he is introduced to the life of a hippie. There he begins to see who Nate is all about. He shows through his monologue that he has come to realize that life is meant to be lived, and he’s going to “suck the nectar out of life and drink down every last drop.”

Nate “gets it” and knows this could be the adventure of a lifetime. He who was fearful has become fearless. He begins to embrace his destiny and become the man he’s always meant to be. He puts aside the fearful gamer and begins to embrace the fearless explorer.
Isn’t that who we should strive to be like?
Posted by Ron Newcomb

Monday, February 18, 2013

Earn the Title. Stay Motivated. Be Responsible.

Through the years of being a filmmaker, I’ve met several self-proclaimed filmmakers. Upon further investigation, I find out they actually have never made a film, but really want to. Well, I hate to disappoint, but in my book that’s not a filmmaker; it’s more of a film enthusiasts. You have to earn the title by doing a film. It’s hard work, and it’s better not to take that title for granted. Filmmakers give up so much to make a film. They struggled, worked hard and power through to make a film. I’m convinced that unlike the “one ring” in “Lord of the Rings” “wants to be found,” as Gandalf describes, a film is just the opposite. A film doesn’t want to be made; it fights you at every step of the way. Only the few complete a true full-length feature film (narrative or documentary). Those few know what I’m talking about. It’s not for the faint of heart, nor is it a simple title given away and used lightly; it’s one that is earned.
And, being a filmmaker is like working out at the gym. I was looking around this weekend at all the many other people in the gym with me. They weren’t the elite bodybuilders. Most of them were out of shape, but there they were going for it right along with me. No matter how out of shape they were, it was their effort that motivated me. I actually had a better work-out because of their exerted effort. Surround yourself with motivated individuals, and you will find yourself rising to new heights. Filmmaking is tough, so it’s critical that you stay motivated. You got to go for it, but in the right way. Wildly going for it is a crazy persons’ game and for the young.
I’m not 21 anymore. When it comes to working out, I have to ease in, not just jump in all crazy like. I have to go into working out, and filmmaking, with responsibility. Lately, I’ve talked to filmmakers that are willing to go “all in” on their first shot. They are willing to give up everything and risk their family’s welfare along with it. This is just rash, and even false bravado. I fully understand the urge and desire to prove you have what it takes, but, keep in mind, most films will never return a profit to their investors. I know we think we have “the one” idea that will change the way film is done, but in case you don’t, there is nothing showing a little responsibility when you make a film.
If you do these things, it still won’t be easy, but before you know it you might just have a film and be a filmmaker.
Posted by Ron Newcomb

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What do I need to do to get (re-)started in filmmaking?

A friend of mine recently reached out to me and asked, “Help, I don’t know how to get back involved with filmmaking!” She is a great writer, but due to life’s circumstances, she has not written anything for a long time. She is now married with two small children that demand her attention. She had given up her writing to pursue her dreams of becoming a wife and a mother – very noble things. But, the passion in her heart for filmmaking never ceased. She was able to keep it at bay for awhile, but recently it’s called her gently out of her Hobbit hole. She does not share this same calling with her family, so it takes being around other creative people to help foster this longing.
I can totally relate, but for people like us we can never leave filmmaking on the altar for long. It’s more of a calling than a desire to just do film. Our goal is not a hobby, but a profession. But, she had been out of it for so long, she no longer knew where to look. Here’s what I offered her, which can be for a writer, actor, or filmmaker:
  1. Find the local 48 Hour Film Project in your area. - they have them all over the world. People take them very seriously and really give it their all. I was very impressed about the team I found myself on. Or there are others, like the 168:
The point here is really to surround yourself with filmmakers – reach out and make connections. Plus, you get to say you actually completed a project – how many writers/actors/filmmakers can say that?
  1. I was a little skeptical about this next idea, but when I attended one – I found 25 other local filmmakers just like me.
The group had gear and desire – they are still meeting today making projects.
  1. Just about every college out there has some type of film program. Look within their communications department. You can either a) take a class, or b) volunteer for student projects. Just reach out to them, let them know what you can do, and be a contributor when you get a chance.
  1. Use social media to find filmmakers – from YahooGroups, to Google+, to Facebook (of course). Filmmakers know other filmmakers.
I have found most people out there have a desire to make things as professional as they can and they are willing to sacrifice for it. If you can't find a group in your area, I encourage you to step up and start a group then (be a producer). You never know, you might find yourself taking 30 days off work and doing a feature!
Here’s to making next year about doing projects!
What other advice would you have offered? Leave a Comment and share! 

Posted by Ron Newcomb

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stay connected with us!

We are all over - how about you?

Posted by Ron Newcomb


Friday, October 5, 2012

We have representation


The Highland Film Group has joined the team as our sales agent. We reviewed offers from several distributors and sales agents, but HFG was a cut above the rest. We’re excited about this partnership and looking forward to good things to come. Fellows Hip distribution is now in full swing!

Keep the buzz going! Encourage everyone to visit our IMDB page and YouTube trailer. Invite them to join our Facebook fan page too and follow us on Twitter.

Thanks for being with us on the journey, and be on the lookout for the latest distribution news!
Posted by Ron Newcomb at 7:39 AM No comments: Links to this post
Labels: distribution, Film, lord of the rings, movies, ron newcomb, Tolkien

Posted by Ron Newcomb


Monday, September 17, 2012

What is a fan film?

Fan Films are films that work off someone else's created content. I would suggest a true fan film, is one that does not spoof or act as a parody, but rather is a love of the content, and the film is an extension of that. It uses the same world and perhaps the same characters, but it’s not a remake.

They are generally not full length in time or scope as well - as they are not meant to be viewed as a feature, but more of a "side story"; with the goal of being a homage to the creator of the original content. 

A parody is generally something that runs along the same story, but creates a funny take on it. These are expected to be cheesy and pokes fun at the content directly.

Why make a fan film?

There are many reasons to make a fan film. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, but do not have much of a story yourself – it’s a great way to dive into an all ready known world, like Middle Earth, which helps you establish certain rules. It is also very easy to garner a strong fan base for the content, as someone has all ready done that for you. You just need to tap into them. Many times, if they are well done, they will really make the rounds.

The main reason I like this, as indie filmmakers struggle with building a fan base. This allows you to do that.

A big note. You must proceed with caution in developing a fan film. As this is not yours! You might make an original story off of something established, but you are riding on the success of the film (or comic, or book) you love, such as from Tolkien. And in doing this, those people that do have the legal rights to create the content, could, and sometimes do, take issue with you making a fan film. If it’s just a few friends in your back yard, it’s probably not that big of a deal, ut the more professional it becomes the more it will get on their RADAR. Regardless – there are legal issues with fan films.

It does not matter if you do not plan on showing this to make money. This does not negate your responsibility to seek permission for what you are doing. Many times, they won’t mind you doing a fan film, but will simply give you a few things you will have to agree to.

What makes a good fan film?

Exactly what makes a great film! The story, the production value, and then how close can you get to the original content. So your props/wardrobe needs to be superb. Then your acting will speak volumes.

Some great Lord of the Rings fan films are: Halifirien, The Peril to the Shire, TheHunt for Gollum, and Born of Hope.

Our film however, “The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers”, is for fans, but not a fan film. It's commercial in nature with the goal being an ROI.

You can find some other great fan films at:

(another good resource:

What’s a great one you’ve seen?Posted by Ron Newcomb