Wellywood brand goes public
09 Mar 2010
Hollywood, movie capital of the world, is about to get a little cousin - Wellywood, in New Zealand.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, has plans to erect a giant 'Wellywood' sign celebrating the city’s importance as part of the burgeoning Kiwi film industry.
The sign - styled after Los Angeles' famed Hollywood sign - will be erected by Wellington International Airport on airport land where it will be clearly to visible to air travellers and much of suburban Wellington. It is expected to be finished in June.
Wellington's airport runs through city suburbs on the Miramar peninsula, a narrow stretch of land between the sea
and inner harbour. The surrounding area is the centre of Kiwi director Peter Jackson's movie empire, and Wellingtonians have been fondly referring to their city as 'Wellywood' for some years.
Delia Shanly, manager of Film Wellington, says the move is fantastic and will resonate with people who have a good sense of humour. The sign would create awareness among visitors about New Zealand’s contribution to the world’s movie industry.
"You’ll get tourists coming through the airport and they’ll be intrigued about Wellywood, so it’s going to create a huge awareness at the public level," Shanly said.
Film capital of New Zealand
New Zealand’s recent Oscar wins for Avatar, currently the world’s best-selling movie, cemented its reputation as the breeding-ground of top Kiwi film-making talent, Shanly said.
"Wellington’s always called itself the film capital of New Zealand. A lot of the movie projects people have heard about worldwide have come out of here. I think it’s a combination of the type of services they get here. It’s absolutely top-class but more than that, it’s where people come to try something new."
Legendary Hollywood director James Cameron had chosen Wellington for Avatar because he wanted to make a groundbreaking movie, she said.
"James chose Wellington to make that happen and it wasn’t for the location at all, because Avatar was set in a fictional world. What he came for was the services and talent. The facilities we have are spectacular and Weta Digital is just magical as far as creating people’s visions."
From Hollywood to Wellywood
The Wellywood sign is a timely reminder of the relationship between Wellington International Airport and the capital’s film industry, Wellington Airport CEO Steve Fitzgerald says.
"It’s a relationship that has steadily grown since the industry began to flourish around 17 years ago. A well-functioning, well-designed and conveniently located airport helps convey a sense of reassurance to creative professionals who venture to the other side of the world to make movies in Wellington."
Fitzgerald says the sign will be one of the first things people see upon arriving in Wellington, leaving no doubt that New Zealand’s capital is also the gateway to the country’s talented movie industry.
Around seven film-related companies are based on the Miramar peninsula, including Weta’s diverse workshops, studios and Park Road Post production facility.
Set jetting around Wellington
Visitors eager for the Wellywood experience have several tourist options. The Weta Cave at Weta Workshop includes a mini-museum, theatrette and souvenir shop that are open to the public.
The Weta Cave is a behind-the-scenes look at Weta and features interviews with co-founders Sir Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk. In the mini-museum, punters also come face-to-face with some of the characters, props and displays from favourite Weta movies. Around 100,000 visitors went through the Weta Cave in 2009.
Several Wellington tour companies run location tours around the region, many with guides who were either actors or extras in the films. Another must-see in Miramar is Westside Studios, a prop shop that carries genuine props from internationally-renowned productions such as Xena.
Weta wins visual effect BAFTA
Oscar nominations recognise NZ film industry
'The Lovely Bones' home in Wellington
These topics may also be of interest to you