Yesterday morning MarkB and I went off to the airport. I was stunned that we were able to check in 15 minutes before departure, not show ID and get on the plane. Man.
It was quite a flight, take off, get a mineral water and then land.
Wellington is very, very hilly...the only flat portion is the airport. MarkB pointed out to me on the roof of the airport where the city had placed different statues of LOTRs characters during the course of the movie. Sadly they weren't up any more. I would have loved to have seen Gollum crouched on the terminal.
We caught a taxi and headed to Weta which is this rather innocuous building in the middle of the industrial part of town.
Okay so Weta is AMAAAAAAAZING. Let's just get that out right now. Fall over, holy cow I can't believe I'm here cool. From giant UrukHai warriors and Gollums in the lobby and in the conference room figurines of everything from The Muppets to Balrocs and a case chock full of awards...with a shiny new Oscar gleaming along with the others.
Richard Taylor is tall and better looking in real life than he is on camera. On all the documentaries I've seen him in he seems awkward and frankly a bit lurpy...but he is a passionate sweetheart of a guy. He seems to absolutely love what he does and none of it seems to have gone to his head...no is he interested at all in resting on his laurels. One of the reasons we had the invite we did was because MarkB is involved in several projects at the HIT lab that the two may be collaborating on.
It was a relatively quick tour, all of it mind blowing. I saw everything from some planned figurines from the new Superman movie to some animationic stuff for a movie called "Black Sheep," seems to be about a weresheep? I got to see the armory and met their main leather worker who was making coats for a WWII epic and their armorer who was working on some semi fanciful stuff for a local artist.
I got to see a "bigature" of some of the old LOTRs stuff as well as the boat from King Kong which was cool and some of the scupturers who seem like a great fun lot of fanboys themselves. Mark told them about the project he most likely will be working with Weta on and they got all drooly and excited. Really rather cool.
As we were wrapping up the tour Richard casually mentioned that Peter was in the other room and he'd be really interested in some of the stuff MarkB was working on...hang on a second ... he was very, very busy but lets see if he had a minute.
I thought there was no way in heck THAT was going to happen but as I turned around this short little guy with cut off pants and barefeet came walking out. Holy, holy cow it was Peter Jackson. YEAAAAH. This is the guy who really did the impossible...he adapated the unadaptable book and made it GOOD. Course, I still think he needed a major editor for King Kong but who cares it's Peter JACKSON!!!
He shook my hand and I quipped, "You're taller than I thought you'd be," which made him laugh. (He's seriously a short little guy. I'd guess at least 2 inches shorter than me at any rate.
He had a few questions for Mark who was getting rather succinct about explaining the project he was on so it was fun to just listen to Peter. It seemed that he was thinking a mile a minute, he had a zillion things on his plate but he seemed a very nice guy and when he was getting ready to get back to his meeting he was very gracious when I apologized for being the obnoxious American tourist but could I PLEASE get a photo. A receptionist was handy and POOF. There's me with 3 freakin' geniuses on my camera. SWEEET. EEEEE!!!!
So yeah, I've met Peter Jackson. I doubt he will remember me from a hill of beans (again, he looked very busy, very tired and MarkB did the grand majority of the talking,) but he and Richard Taylor both were very down to earth genuinely nice guys.