Wellington has many monikers: Welly, Windy Wellington, and Wellywood. New Zealand is a popular film destination and has an established reputation in the film industry. So proud are Wellingtonians of their place in film making, they even have a Wellington version of the Hollywood sign.
One monolith is the Weta Workshop (WW). Founded in 1987, the workshop has been lauded by Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Guillermo Del Toro, and of course Peter Jackson (a co-founder). The WW has offerings for every stage of production, from concept design to literally manufacturing a tank.
Even if aren’t a stan of the films they’ve worked on, you will still be impressed with the technique and details of the craftsmanship.
The Weta Workshop’s most famous collaborations are of course the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. I have seen 2/3s of the Hobbit movies (I don’t need you to question my life choices), so I didn’t think that there would be much there that I could relate to. However, shortly after arriving I had a moment of regression to my five-year-old self when I got excited when I saw a Power Ranger helmet. Yep… Weta worked on those too. The artistry and detail that the creatives give the items on display is amazing. It was very reminiscent of my times at Universal Studio theme park…you know— minus actual rides and sadly there were no churros.
The Weta Workshop offers tours and workshops. The tour will be informative and enjoyable by anyone with a passing interest in film. Weta Workshop has worked on so many films with varying levels of involvement. Their involvement varies from only creating a single weapon to creating an entire world (Avatar and Lord of the Rings). For better or worse, a Weta Workshop even made the famous helmet the Viggo Mortensen broke a toe on.
Regretfully, photography isn’t allowed on the tour, so you have to take my word for it: Even if aren’t a stan of the films they’ve worked on, you will still be impressed with the technique and details of the craftmanship. Low key, it’s a Pinterest dream. There’s not ‘right’ way to create anything. While some things are made with hi-tech 3D printers and use Madame Tussaud quality mannequins to create body suits, other creators use everyday material like toilet paper rolls and egg cartons as a foundation to create the fantastic worlds we see on the TV screen.
If you are in Wellington, Te Papa Museum is a must-see. There is a Gallipoli: The Scale of War exhibition created by Peter Jackson (a Weta Workshop co-founder). The exhibit details experience of Kiwi soldiers during World War I. If you can’t make it to a Weta Workshop tour, you can see the detail up close and personal.
If you would like your own Weta Workshop original, great news. You can hire them! In between film projects Weta Workshops offers a wide range of services and products. I don’t see myself requiring their services in the immediate future, but it is great to know that they are there.
Until Next time,
Pella, the pilgrim