Wellington is world's coolest little film capital
Over the past decade New Zealand’s capital city Wellington - sometimes referred to as ‘Wellywood’ - has risen to become a film production and technology hot spot.
Director Sir Peter Jackson, special-effects guru Sir Richard Taylor and film editor Jamie Selkirk have created a highly successful film empire in Wellington with Stone Street Studios, Weta Digital, Weta Workshop, Park Road Post and Portsmouth Hire.
The multi-million dollar studios, sound stages, and pre- and post-production facilities are based in the city on the Miramar peninsula, where the trio have created The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and The Hobbit - set to have its worldwide première in Wellington on 28 November.
The facilities have also attracted other big budget films including James Cameron’s Avatar, and the admiration of Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro who said it was "Hollywood the way God intended it".
Facility manager Jamie Selkirk says Stone Street Studios and neighbouring film infrastructure Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and Park Road Post make an enticing "one stop shop" for overseas productions to New Zealand and provide local film-makers with facilities of international quality.
Stone Street Studios
Wellington's Stone Street Studios is set on an eight-acre site in Miramar and houses New Zealand's only purpose-built sound stages.
Stone Street Studios has four warehouse stages and two sound stages, including a massive 24,500sq ft stage built for King Kong. The stages are reputed as on par with the biggest and best sound stages in Hollywood and London.
Supporting the main stages are a cluster of offices for production, construction, wardrobe, makeup and the art department, as well as a large back lot with the capacity to house a wet stage and outdoor sets.
The studios were extensively used by New Line Cinema and Universal Pictures for the production of The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, and more recently for The Hobbit.
Weta Digital is just down the road from Stone Street Studios and produces animation, creatures, motion capture, crowd generation, film scanning and recording, modelling, lighting, environments, compositing and 3D particle effects.
Founded in 1987 by Sir Richard Taylor and wife Tania Rodger as RT Effects, Weta Workshop has produced creatures and makeup effects for productions such as the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and movies Avatar and Heavenly Creatures.
Weta Workshop rose to worldwide attention with The Lord of the Rings, producing sets, costumes, armour, weapons, creatures and miniatures.
Sir Richard Taylor has been awarded five Oscars, four BAFTAs and numerous other achievements for Weta's success in make-up, costume and visual effects, and a knighthood for his services to New Zealand.
Weta Workshop is responsible for the physical environments created for both King Kong and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Workshop designs and produces special make-up effects and prosthetics, creatures, museum display models, amour and chainmail, weapons and large-scale sculpture.
Weta Workshop Miniatures can create remarkably complete worlds to any scale on the 30,000sq ft shooting and construction stage.
The facility includes a large-scale urethane spray plant, a 3D rapid prototyper, three computer-controlled routing tables, digital scanning equipment, and a laser cutter and plasma cutter on site.
Film fans can visit the nearby Weta Cave to watch a behind-the-scenes video, and buy miniatures or collectables to take home.
Park Road Post
Sir Peter Jackson and wife producer Fran Walsh purchased the government-owned National Film Unit in 1999. The Film Unit was formed in 1941 as New Zealand’s first post production facility and had built an outstanding reputation nationally and internationally.
In 2005, following the building of a new state-of-the-art facility in Miramar, it was renamed Park Road Post.
Park Road is now considered a premier post production developed by film-makers for film-makers.
Jackson and his team say they want Park Road to be a place that offers a relaxing and inspiring environment for film-makers to realise their vision. Park Road only takes on a few select projects each year, to ensure each film has the right amount of resource required to deliver the highest standard of work.
Portsmouth Hire is a film equipment rental company on site. The company rents out a vast range of dry-hire lighting, lighting trucks, grip, unit, location and special effects equipment for hire.
The shop also sells product to film-makers in the region, ranging from gaffer tape to technician accessories.
Background: Wellington’s feature film industry
Wellington’s feature film industry generated NZ$495 million in revenue in 2011. This was a 4.2% increase on 2010 ($474 million) and a 49% increase on the $252 million generated in 2008.
Wellington has 753 businesses connected with the feature film industry.
Wellington was named as the 4th top city in the world to visit in 2011 by Lonely Planet Best in Travel, with special mention of The Hobbit films.
New Zealand film-maker: Peter Jackson
Set-jetting around New Zealand
Wellington Film Destinations Map
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