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A tour to Weta Studios

Today we went to Weta (the weta is an ugly New Zealand insect) to see the film studios of New Zealand’s most famous son and native of Wellington, Sir Peter Jackson.

These are to be found in a suburb that is a mix of light industrial and residential. It’s not like the imposing Hollywood studios where you draw up at the barrier of a large sign.

The studios are higgedly-pickedly to be found around the suburb. We passed the main studio building and parked right outside was a red Tesla.

The guide said Peter was working, pot belly out and in flip flops.

We then moved onto the inevitable gift shop and were ushered into movie theatre which provide a documentary about life in Weta Studios. I realised, when confronted by the roll of honour of Peter Jackson films – Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Blade Runner, Narnia  – that I had not seen any of them.

At least I could recall vividly Thunderbirds and even Gerry and Sylvia Andersen’s precursor Fireball XL5 with the androgynous Marla.

Not having seen any of the films, much went over my head but I did marvel at the painstaking creation of dolls-house size sets and props like armour and arrows.

Yet I also wondered if any of these films would be remembered for scenes like the opening of The Godfather or the final scene in The Italian Job …

I was more engaged by the tour of Thunderbirds. 

Yet even here I found myself thinking, given there were no computers and the puppets were marionettes, just how ground-breaking Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were.

Although Miramar, the company of Harvey Weinstein, appears everywhere there is no reference to the pariah. Sir Peter criticised him for putting off the casting of certain actresses. All in all, a slick operation that exrends to merchandising , computer games and commissions.  One such commission was for the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa museum.  I complimented the guide on this  . He said each eyelash took 48 hours to instal.  It’s that type of attention to detail that has made the Weta studio the best known outside the USA.

About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts