After some lovely free pancakes in the morning Sam, Rob, Tori and I embarked on a adventure to the Weta Caves, this time round with the intention of actually seeing some of the workshop.
Our tour guide, Matt, met us next to Captain Haddock and took is to the start of the tour, where we were told that we would not be allowed to take pictures as the projects were live. Matt then picked up a sword and told us that he would be using it to point out things of interest and, also, cut our hands off if we were caught taking pictures and use it as a weapon for the impending zombie apocalypse.
Weta Cave is the home of Weta Workshop. This is responsible for the weapons, armour, prosthetics, miniatures and much more on movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Narnia, King Kong and Avatar. It is one of the most revered and famous aspects of New Zealand’s booming movie franchise.
The workshop, besides being active, is home to a lot of the real props that were used in the films. This makes it a haven of relics that die hard fans can drool over.
We were shown the guns from District Nine, a terrifying rabbit, the swords from LOTR and Narnia, Sauron’s full costume and plenty more. We were also taught some tricks of the trade, such as the fact that the swords were made out of plastic and steel depending on the type of shot (close up or wide). Here Matt told us this thrilling tale: ‘the actor is stalking around a forest, sword ready. There is a rustle behind him in the bush. He brings his sword up, ready to defend himself. Then Russell jumps out the bush and shouts surprise.’ This gives you an idea of how the tour went. I came out knowing so much about what Weta do but also how to defend myself in a zombie apocalypse (mainly fill your house with treadmills so the zombies get stuck on them).
The detail each department goes into with every project is inspiring. Matt spoke at length about the importance of Photoshop in their lives. It allows them to change the slightest or biggest detail within seconds according to the director’s wishes.
Chain mail in most of the films is not made out of steel, but plastic. Each ring is diligently attached by a small team, sometimes taking days to complete. The only actor to wear steel chain mail was Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), because he was a ‘real man’.
Also, the scene in which Lurtz (Uruk Hai in LOTR) is ‘born’ required the actor to have prosthetic muscles applied, which took 8 hours, meaning when all the other actors were going to bed he was only beginning to have his make-up applied!
There were two Weta designers working on a series of original hedgehog gnomes. We weren’t told who they we’re being made for but the person had a very strong connection with Weta Workshop. Peter Jackson has a had long history with the Weta so maybe the hedgehogs were for his garden!
The tour was truly fantastic and we can understand why Weta is such a desirable company to work with. Thanks Matt for an excellently funny tour and we hope to see your films one day!
Another night in Blend Bar to catch up with Lantern and Maverick. It was ‘sweet as’ to see you guys again hope it won’t be the last time.