Weta Workshop, Wellington, 17 July 2014: A collection of puppets, some make-up effects and a passion for the film and creative arts were the sum total of the Weta Group’s assets in 1994. Two decades on and the Group has built a globally-competitive film ecosystem in Wellington that has produced or contributed to some of the world’s biggest movies, accumulated a hatful of industry awards, and generated career opportunities for thousands of Kiwis.
To celebrate 20 years of “Weta,” the Weta Group of Companies will have their largest presence ever at the 2014 Comic-Con International event in San Diego (July 24-27), showcasing New Zealand creativity, talent and artistry to industry media and thousands of fans. Weta will also be showcasing its work at the other satellite events in Denver, New York and Utah in 2014.
It is, says Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor, a statement of how far the Weta Group has come in those 20 years.
“Comic-Con is hugely influential in the entertainment industry. It is a convergence of film, television, comic book and fantasy fans and one where Weta has become a hugely popular stop for enthusiasts of the characters, creatures and worlds we have created including those from the Middle-earth movies, science-fiction and fantasy projects and our film collectibles.”
Weta had its first presence at Comic-Con International in San Diego 15 years ago, and has been showcasing its work there every year since.
Weta Digital Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri says there is an increasing appetite from fans to understand the digital effects that make up so much of what is seen on screen.
“It’s great to see fans relating to the characters we create, from Koba and Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to Gollum and Smaug. We enjoy sharing the artistry and the technology we use to bring these characters to the screen. And it’s not just the characters but the entire worlds they inhabit, whether it be Middle-earth or the planet of Pandora from Avatar. The enthusiasm seems to grow every year.”
Artists from Weta will be on site at Comic-Con to answer fan questions and talk about their work. The Weta stands will also feature guest appearances from the likes of Sir Richard Taylor, artists and authors Greg Broadmore, Daniel Falconer, Aaron Beck, Clare Burgess and Luke Hawker.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to be at Comic-Con representing New Zealand and our workshop team,” says Weta Workshop General Manager David Wilks. “It’s a massive event. Over the four days Comic Con will see over 120,000 people through its doors and the Weta presence connects us with our major markets.
“For many fans, our work helps bring some of their favourite stories and characters to life. We have seen that especially with the Middle-earth trilogies. It’s great that we can celebrate our big milestone with fans from all over the world in this way.”
The Comic-Con International presence kicks off a number of 20th anniversary activities that the Weta Group is initiating to celebrate the end of the teen years.
“We have a bit of a surprise on our booth to unveil for fans and also some exciting announcements in the next few weeks about how they can join us in celebrating 20 years of Weta, so watch this space,” says Wilks.