Well dear reader, I find myself at the telling of the second part of this adventure story. The first part wasn’t all that bad if you don’t mind me saying. Perfectly pleasant and very respectable. Nothing unexpected or too adventurous…well, unless you count the part about finding a gold ring. It’s not like there were dragons or anything…(ahem) I might as well continue from where I left off. I believe it was time for me to leave Hobbiton and set out on an adventure. Little did I know then just how adventurous my adventure would become.
So for the second leg of my journey I took the road less travelled so to speak.
One minute I was on the ground minding my own business and then the next I was flying. Some bloody great eagle picked me up and off we went. Can you imagine what that is like? Cold! Very incredibly cold and windy! On the ground the weather may seem one way but up in the clouds it is a completely different story. South we flew over mountains and what turned out to be an entire island. Did you know that New Zealand is made up of two island? And that the sheep outnumber the people five-to-one? Or was it eight-to-one? Whatever the odds they are not good if the sheep suddenly got it into their heads to have a wooly uprising.
So there I was being flown over hill and dale when I happened to cross paths with a company of swarthy dwarves plastered onto the side of an airplane. Startled? Yes. All that surprised? No. Only in Middle Earth could you ever hope find such a thing. At least it wasn’t the one with the dragon on it.
And if you think a decorated airplane is over the top you should see what the Middle of Middle Earth looks like. Wellington, the film and entertainment capital of the country, is were the WETA studios are located. The WETA workshop, or better known by all as the WETA Cave, is a place of magic and wonder. It reminds me of Rivdendell to be quite honest. Everything and anything you can imagine can be found there. Prop pieces and costumes from legendary films are on display. Swords, spears, bows, arrows, helmets…
I spent half a day in that wondrous place. And that was just the gift shop. I was able to gain access to the workshop itself to see first-hand how things are made movie ready. It was movie magic at its finest but for my eyes only. WETA guards its secrets as carefully as a dragon guards its gold but there were some things there that I was permitted to touch. Everywhere on every available inch of wall space, floor space and ceiling space was covered in film props. More weaponry, shields, and armor than you can shake a wizards staff at! Items from the Hobbit movies, the Chronicles of Narnia films, and even The Amazing Spiderman 2 were on display. Did you know that the armor for the Green Goblin was actually designed and 3D printed by WETA?
The things that the magic makers at WETA can and have come up with would leave you speechless. WETA is the ultimate Makerspace. Not only do they craft things painstakingly by hand, hair by hair even, they also 3D print, laser cut, digitally reproduce and construct. Sometimes actors cannot go to the workshops to be fitted for their costumes due to being on the other side of the world. That is no longer a problem because now all WETA has to do is 3D scan a person where they are in the world and use that to quite literally print them into being. Once that is done the costume can be built onto the 3D print job of the actual person.
I was not prepared for this. I went in thinking I knew everything there was to know about the Middle Earth films and how they were made only to discover that I in fact know nothing. The attention to the smallest detail imaginable is carefully crafted by skilled hands and elf-sharp eyes.
It also turns out that they have elf-sharp hearing as well. The tales that the WETA workers had to tell about what went on behind the scenes and in the workshop with the Middle Earth actors are worth the price of admission alone. I cannot repeat most of them but there is one that I can share.
During the filming of the Fellowship of the Ring actor Sean Bean, who played the roll of Boromir of Gondor, opted to climb up a mountain for seven hours in full costume instead of taking a helicopter to the film location point due to his fear of heights. That is no small feat. Do you know how big the mountains in the South Island are? How high they go?
Here let me show you.
After spending however many hours necessary to film the necessary scene, which could run anywhere from a few hours to an entire day, he would then spend another seven hours climbing back down, still in full costume. Which had to have been heavy because Boromir wore quite a few layers and some hefty chainmail. Not to mention his large shield and sword.
That is without a doubt the most Gondorian thing I have ever heard tell.