New Zealand effects experts advise Korean moviemakers

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New Zealand effects experts advise Korean moviemakers

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The weta, looking like a bizarre blend of a cricket and a cockroach, is one of New Zealand’s most ancient species that has survived unchanged since the Mesozoic era. They are nocturnal insects and are said to be considered by many New Zealanders to be repulsive creatures of the dark.
The dark can bring many things to light, however. By recreating nightmares, daydreams and a mirage of wayward fairytales and illusive fantasies as actual visual images, New Zealand’s Weta Workshop has been responsible for the realization of the visual poignancy and technical craftsmanship of movies such as “The Lord of the Rings,” “King Kong” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
The company, situated in Wellington, New Zealand, and founded in 1987 by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger, is now co-owned by the two, Peter Jackson and Jamie Selkirk. Like many interesting success tales, the company had humble beginnings, starting out as RT Effects in the back room of Mr. Taylor and Ms. Rodger’s flat in Wellington, in 1987. Eight years later, the pair linked up with Mr. Jackson and Mr. Selkirk, expanded the company’s scale and renamed it Weta. It has since provided the special effects and high-tech post production skills to numerous film and television projects. After the success of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the company gained worldwide acclaim and recognition.
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Last Friday, in the Seoul Grand Hyatt Hotel’s Regency Room, Mr. Taylor, with other colleagues from Weta Workshop, joined around 150 people, mainly leaders of the Korean film industry during a “New Zealand Film Evening and Dinner.” The event included guests such as Puchon Fantastic Film Festival director Lee Jang-ho, chairman of the Daesung group, David Kim, Korean Film Council chairperson Ahn Cehong-sook and chairman of the Korea Film Producers Association, Jonathan Kim.
The dinner was organized by the New Zealand Embassy in Korea and the Puchon Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan), in an effort to build a relationship between the film industries of Korea and New Zealand aimed at forming future business and cultural ventures together.
The first step was the participation of the Weta Workshop in the PiFan festival, which began last Thursday. An “Everyday Workshop” led by the Weta team will be held for the duration of the festival. There will be an exhibition of work from “The Lord of the Rings,” as well as instruction and lectures by the Weta Workshop team. The event is a world-first exhibition of the Weta workshop portfolio.
“Together, [Korea and New Zealand] are constantly looking for ways to forge a partnership that is modern, vibrant, and fit for the 21st century,” said Rod harris, the Charge d’Affaires of the New Zealand embassy, in his opening speech at last Friday’s event.
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During his speech, Mr. Harris also spoke of future projects that the two countries’ film industries will be involved in. “Weta and Daesung Group have pioneered a creative, technical and financial partnership, which could become a model for future collaboration. Several Korean films have been made in New Zealand and more are planned.” He added, “Both countries are working hard to implement an audiovisual cooperation arrangement, for example by finding training opportunities for Korean film-makers in New Zealand.”
Throughout the night, Weta co-founder Mr. Taylor expressed his deep respect for Korean directors active in the scene.
“‘The King and the Clown’ was such a breakout film for Korea. What I admire most about Korean films is that there is no crossover, and the films do not customize themselves for the international audience. There is a certain pride and fierce independence in the films that are made in Korea,” he said.
The evening was accompanied by a screening of work from Weta Workshop, a selection of New Zealand wines, such as the Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot/Cabernet 2003, and staple New Zealand dishes such as golden kiwi pavlova and New Zealand brie cheese.


by Cho Jae-eun
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