Archive for the “Interviews” Category

Greg Broadmore of Weta Workshop interview
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.

Jean Batten collector card by Greg Broadmore

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.

GOLIATHON 83 Infinity Beam Projector: Weta Collectibles/Greg Broadmore MANMELTER 3600ZX: Weta Collectibles/Greg Broadmore F.M.O.M. INDUSTRIES Wave Disrupter Gun: Weta Collectibles/Greg Broadmore

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.

Dr. Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory- available now!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.

Lord Cockswain and Moon Mistress lifesize display: Weta CollectiblesA 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!

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Eden Small of Weta Workshop
For the [[AP]]’s inaugural interview, we were lucky enough to shoot the breeze with Eden Small, a sculptor all Weta collectors have been familiar since the Sideshow Weta days. Read on to see what the man has to say about tweaking Legolas and Gimli, Hellgate, and the challenges faced on an ever-evolving Kong.

[[AP]]: Hi Eden, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. How’s the weather these days in New Zealand?
Eden Small: The weather here has been great! Plenty of sunshine and a lot less wind than usual.

Speaking of your busy schedule, describe what a typical work day is like for you at Weta?
Eden Small lovingly crafts Gothmog’s mug
After a good strong coffee it’s a matter of arranging the relevant reference photos, getting tools out, and getting to work!

Are you yourself much into collecting? If so, what sort of things grace your shelves?

I am more of a collector of reference material that could be useful to future art work than any thing else. Anatomy reference, particularly in regard to animals is always something I find I can never have enough of. Also Led Zep Bootlegs.

Though one of the more challenging pieces to display in the LOTR line, we love your Legolas and Gimli on Arod statue. Was there a great deal of deliberation prior to settling on the final composition?

Thank you. That piece did change a bit from its original design. It was a challenge to have the dynamics of the figures as balanced as they needed to be, so there was a little, tweaking in the maquetting stage. An interesting note is that it was a last minute change to the sculpt to have Gimli grabbing the hood of Legolas’ cape to keep himself from falling off Arod as he leans heavily to one side to strike with his axe. This had another visual bonus for the piece of adding a touch of humour to it, and showed a developing trust between the characters.

Gothmog on Warg from the Sideshow Weta range Legolas and Gimli on Arod from the Sideshow Weta range

As an effects house, it is very unique (and advantageous I imagine) that you guys are instrumental in creating the actual films from which the collectibles are often based. What special perks do you sculptors utilize in way of reference materials etc. when it comes time to create the statues?

On the Lord of The Rings collectables for example, having access to actual costumes, weapons, and life casts of actor’s faces is great for accuracy in the work. Also, on set photos can provide good reference when sculpts are being made as the movie they are based on is still being shot.

Let’s talk about the Templar statue from the Hellgate: London range; what differences did you find in working from a videogame property as opposed to film?

Eden Small sculpting Hellgate’s Templar Knight for WetaFrom a technical view point, the armour on the Templar was difficult to realise in clay. On a personal level, the guys from flagship studios came over from the U.S.A and were very inspiring and we collaborated with them on the poses of the pieces for the Hellgate: London range and this is something that was an added incentive that would not happen with movie product.

Can we expect more of Weta from the Hellgate: London franchise?

That would probably depend on the popularity of the current figures, but it would be fun to do some more work for Hellgate.

You guys are running a draw in which a winner will have their face sculpted onto a custom Templar Knight (details here). That is one of the coolest giveaway ideas I’ve seen. Will you be handling the duties?

It does seem like a cool idea to have your own head on a Templar cutting a swathe through some nasty zombies and I hope I am involved!

Looking back at your incredibly diverse oeuvre, which includes –in addition to what we’ve discussed: Gothmog on Warg, Kong vs. V-Rex, Returning Son, Zorro on Tornado, and an Elton John bobble! Is there one piece that stands out in your memory that you most struggled with? Most proud of?

The biggest struggle on a piece was Kong Vs V-Rex as Kong’s hair was at a stage in design which in meant it was constantly evolving. Which meant a lot of changes to the sculpt. Sometimes changing back to the original look. And then away from it only to come back again. Also, copying directly from the scannable maquette of the V Rex that was in the movie, meant that I had to do my best to ensure that all the beautiful hand sculpted scales on it, made the transition as faithfully as possible to the version I sculpted. Given the difference in size and deadline from the scannable to the collectable, that was demanding to say the least. I am proud of my work in that it can inspire some and hopefully accurately depict subject matter for others. As for any one piece, I do like the Legolas, Gimli, Arod sculpt too.

Any parting words for your fans out there?

Thanks for the appreciation of my work. It does mean a lot to know that people enjoy the pieces, and I hope to keep delivering for as long as I can.

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