Hollywood producer wooed by Wellington
11 Mar 2008
New Zealand’s capital city has recruited another fan - and it’s Hollywood blockbuster producer Jon Landau.
Landau and Titanic director James Cameron singled out Wellington as the place to film their latest project, Avatar.
The big-budget sci-fi movie includes a mix of live-action filming, combined with visual effects from Wellington’s Academy Award Winning Weta Digital.
Landau, who oversaw films such as True Lies, Die Hard 2, Mrs Doubtfire, Aliens 3 and Last of the Mohicans, says the production chose Weta Digital and Wellington as they wanted the best visual effects crew they could get.
''Right from the start of filming, the special effects wizards understood what we wanted. It's more than just their attitude, it's their passion,'' he says.
Filming on Avatar started in October 2007 and wrapped mid-February 2008. The time spent in Wellington has left a great impression on Landau.
''What I’ve enjoyed most is actually the people. People bring a passion to their work that elevates the artistic endeavour.
''The biggest unexpected surprise is that in Wellington you have a robust city, but it is a city that has still maintained an intimacy.''
In between filming, Landau managed to sample several Wellington restaurants and his favourites include Citron, Martin Bosley’s Yacht Club restaurant, The White House and Capitol. He describes his experience at Citron as ''one of the better dinners I’ve ever had'' - so good in fact that he took a group of friends back there a second time.
''You go into them [restaurants and shops] and you still have a sense of community, which you don’t have in other major metropolitan cities.''
During filming, Landau and the some of the Avatar crew enjoyed getting outdoors in Wellington. While some Avatar crew members liked to take strenuous cycle rides, Landau preferred what he called the 'bike-stroll', which involved a leisurely Sunday ride around the Wellington harbour and bays, stopping at cafes along the way.
Landau is keen to return to Wellington to work on other projects.
''It is definitely our intention to try and find another movie to get back here.
''Jim Cameron said it to the crew yesterday - ‘I will be back’. We’ve had such a good experience here.''
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