To become an orc, I had to train for six months
Visual effects artist Ronan Carr (29), originally from Westport in Co Mayo but living in London, unleashed his inner Orc in The Hunt for Gollum last year -- an Irish-produced movie made by and for Lord of the Rings fanatics.
"I was working as a runner in a London VFX company when a director friend of mine, Chris Bouchard, asked if I'd play an Orc in his film.
"I think the main reason he asked me is because I'm short! I wasn't insulted -- it's probably the first time my height has actually been an advantage.
"Between Hobbits, Dwarves and Orcs, a lot of short actors are very thankful to Tolkien! As it was a fan movie, none of the cast or crew got paid.
"You'd be surprised how many LOTR fans there are willing to provide their services for free just to get their name on the credits.
"It was a real labour of love. To prepare to become an Orc, I did six months of fight training.
"I had to be covered in plaster of Paris to make my mask, which was then glued on along with make-up for filming -- it was a nightmare to get off! But filming was great fun.
"I'll admit I've never read Tolkien's books, but the movies were life-altering -- literally.
"Since LOTR, a lot more money is pumped into special effects-driven films like Avatar -- creating more work for people like me.
"And taking part in The Hunt for Gollum gave me brilliant experience for my CV. In the past year, I've had five different job offers.
"Hopefully, The Hobbit will do the same for other Irish artists."
For more details, log on to www.thehuntforgollum.com