The Hammer of the Gods must strike Weta Workshop pretty often as Led Zeppelin gets another nod in our second interview with the Kiwi effects and collectibles powerhouse. Ramble on for thoughts from designer and Rayguns: Dr. Grordborts Infallible Aether Oscillators creator Greg Broadmore on gorgeous groupies, abusing his artwork, and so much more!
[[AP]]: In the latest transmission from Dr. Grordbort, we found out that you had contracted a rare flesh eating disease. We certainly hope you are feeling better.
Greg Broadmore: It was not so much a flesh eating disease and more a brain eating disease in the form of a film I’ve been doing conceptual design work for. (I can’t name the film yet, sorry.) I’ve been designing for that film now for the last 8 or 9 months solid and that’s meant doing testimonial art has taken a back seat. I managed doing both for a while but then my poor brain started melting. We’ve been preparing a bunch of cool stuff for this year for Dr. Grordbort’s behind the scenes but I will be back creating art for Dr. G anytime now.
The film I’ve been designing for will rule, by the way. I cannot wait for this film. It’s one of the most unique and exciting films I have ever been involved with.
Could you describe what a typical day for you is like at Weta Workshop? Allow us to live vicariously just a little.
Well, first I roll half asleep down the hill to the workshop ( I live one minute from Weta, I could throw a beer bottle on the roof of the workshop from my deck) drink a coffee and spend the next two hours waking up. I usually work a 10 to 12 hour day and spend most of that concept designing.
When I am working on Dr. Grordborts’ a lot of that time is spent writing, which is a pretty new trick for me. I can barely spell. As well as time spent concept designing in photoshop a lot of time can be spent art directing the various builds. For instance, making sure that colours, textures, details etc are correct on one of the new Rayguns. And at about 3pm we take a break to have gorgeous groupies feed us exotic delicacies as we take a bath in a massive pool of film money while a reformed Led Zeppelin covers all my favourites songs. That was for the vicarious part of your question.
We’ve all heard of writer’s block; ever suffer from concept artist’s block? What’s the best cure?
Oh sure, they’re the same thing. Concepts are just visual stories. I don’t have that problem too often, luckily. Best cure? For me, when I find a concept isn’t working, I get really pissed at it and end up visually abusing it. I draw angry and beat the image up until it gives in. Works quite well. Loud punk rock or death metal can help too.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty and talk some Rayguns. Where do the sci-fi/steam punk (steam funk!) influences come from?
I’ve talked a little about this before and it made me realise that steampunk, whatever that may be, isn’t what really inspired me to create Dr. Grordbort’s world. It was my fascination with Flash Gordon and the pulp Sci-fi of the 20′s, 30′s and later that inspired me. I just drew these rayguns as idealised prototype weapons from the science fiction aesthetic of that era.
To be honest, I didn’t create it as a historical riff like some Steampunk, I just boiled down all the influences I enjoyed from early 20th century Sci-fi and made a world that I liked. And it’s not even science fiction, it’s more like Science parody or Pseudo-Science fiction (but not pseudo-science in the style of non-scientific popular misconceptions like homeopathy etc..). The principals I play with are outmoded or far fetched ideas like Phlogiston and the Aether (Phlogiston is more of an alchemical concept than science I know, but it’s a fun idea that typifies some of the conceptual misdirections we’ve had in the history of human understanding).
The response from collectors across the globe have been phenomenal. Fortunately, that is a fact, and not something I made up just to be cordial. Has the success of the line met your expectations?
It is amazing too me and really bolstered me. It’s totally exceeded my expectations. I am so lucky that Richard loved it and wanted to run with it, his enthusiasm and support for the Rayguns and Dr. Grordbort has allowed me to expand on the idea and given us the opportunities to take it to bigger and better places. I’m looking forward to getting into the big plans we have for this year and the next.
What challenges (or on the other hand, advantages) do you face with building a collectibles property with which there are no binding multi-million film or entertainment properties- and all of the innate marketing power that comes with?
It’s all challenges all the time. As you pointed out, we don’t have a multi-million dollar advert playing in cinemas to help us sell high end art pieces like these so it’s a real challenge.
The greatest asset we have are enthusiastic fans who’ve seen the guns and loved them and helped us to show them to the world via the internet and print. It’s a real triumph to get as far as we have.
What’s one hilarious/shocking/disturbing/repulsive tidbit about the Rayguns that most people might not know?
Well, that might get [Weta senior modelmaker] David Tremont put in jail so I better not say. It involved the Manmelter, some pre-chewed chewing gum and a commercial drainage pump just to give you some background though.
Have you given any thought to expanding the line into statue form? The lively inhabitants in the Grordbortverse are as compelling as their weaponry. I’ve got a soft spot for the Moon Mistress meself, having been the humble blog’s masthead since inception.
Oh, you’ll just have to wait and see. But personally I think sculptures of really cool hunting expeditions involving bizarre aliens, beautiful space heroines and arcane machinery are a terrible idea and I would never put one in my study.
A 1/6 scale version of the Lord Cockswain and Moon Mistress display at Comic-Con would sell like hot buttered Shallow Beaked Grogan steaks!
Send money orders forthwith!
Any parting words to the Weta collectors out there?
Yes, thanks! You rule. If you bought a kick-arse, high-end
toy Raygun then you clearly have your priorities right.
Your kids don’t need to go to college anyway!
- The official Rayguns page at WetaNZ.com
- Read our interview with Weta’s Eden Small
- Go to the interviews index