Published: November 4th 2005November 1st 2005
It's taken some time, but I am feeling better about staying here for a while now. It's good to have my own space in the house at Percival Street and I'm doing more recreational activities, chilling out and soaking up the cosmopolitan lifestyle in the city and enjoying the atmosphere. There are tons of theatres and cinemas in Wellington - firstly here's a photo of the one where I'm working, which is called Circa - it's right on the harbour with a fabulous view and a lovely dining area.
It's quite a laid-back and sophisticated environment in the theatre, although convincing the customers that they have plenty of time to eat before going in to the play takes some patience!! At the moment there are two plays showing, with matinee performances on weekend afternoons. Nearer Christmas there's a pantomime, Cinderella, and it should get a bit busier. For the time being though they still won't give me quite the hours that I need to make a half-decent wage, so I've taken on a second job in a malaysian restaurant called Kopi, it means "coffee". Wellingtonians are addicted to the stuff : even so much as drinking it while shopping in the
supermarket!! The menu in Kopi is extensive and I'm looking forward to trying some of the more unusual dishes, although I'm not too keen on the idea of goat!!!! Kopi had an excellent review in the local newspaper at the beginning of the week, and where some would describe the place to be a bit cramped, the reporter wanted to convey a "cosy" feel!!
Although the menu in Circa is basic, there is still the occasional opportunity to try something different, not to mention the wines!! So far I've tasted scallops wrapped in bacon - delicious, and a local delicacy, green-lipped mussels and on Guy Fawkes, tomorrow evening, there's a posh function with a selection of canapes!!
The highlight of last week was attending a design talk, as part of a collection of five lunch-time seminars from top designers in Wellington. It featured Richard Taylor, Oscar-winning special effects supervisor and co-director of various WETA companies, responsible for endless film effects, the most obvious being the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Held in an auditorium of only 350, I felt quite honoured to be there, sitting on the floor, as I was the second-to-last person allowed in!
as talking about the importance of employing people with exceptional talent at the workshops in Miramar, just down the road from Wellington, he also expressed his beliefs in building a passion and drive into a group of young individuals to grow and mature to then be able to pass on what they've learnt to others.
With Lord of the Rings, they used silicon graphics computers, special make-up effects and miniatures to help create 48,000 separate props and every individual involved was made to feel part of the bigger picture. They drew on essential elements to fulfill the international film market demands and used Peter Jackson to drive the project forward. But, where the book is as good as the readers imagination, the film becomes restricted with a budget! The trick, he explained, was to "solidify" the charaters and, by turning to traditional techniques to make the finest props possible, i.e. swords cast out of bronze, the audience can truly feel they have entered the world beyond what they see on the screen. An example to understand if this has been achieved would be to ask, 'How accepted is Gollum, as a character in his own right?' After all, not only
Bonne on her birthday
is using the 'motion capture' technique difficult, but also there's the two supporting characters who face a complex issue playing against a character that isn't even on the set!
Ultimately the proof of the films becoming so highly successful has developed into a separate business in itself, where there are now 240 product lines, in particular collectible figurines (found in all Games Workshop stores!!!) from Lord of the Rings alone! WETA have been involved in many other films and are currently developing and capitalising on characters from the films based on Narnia, King Kong and celebrating The Muppets 25th anniversary. For Richard, the Lord of the Rings was a stepping stone and he admits that King Kong has been technically considerably harder to make. By challenging themselves further at Miramar however, with new opportunities, they are now developing a childrens TV programme called Jane and the Dragon. It will use five performers and a choreographer with the same motion capture technique in place of animation. By the way he was enthusing about the project I'm sure it will be worth looking out for.
Last weekend I went to my works Christmas party and we each had
to buy a "secret santa" present, spending no more than $5!!! Martin, the manager, performed his famous routine of going out shopping for tequila, to make margharitas, and when all that was demolished we started on the finest red wine!!! We have also been celebrating a couple of birthdays - it was Bonne's on Halloween and then Eugene's two days later, so they had friends 'round for dinner on both occasions and I've come to the conclusion that Kiwi's like their puddings!! (Check out the Lamington, which is a traditional Australian cake, and Pavlova, with the obligatory kiwi fruit, in the photo with Bonne below). And we had cheesecake!!!!!
In this blog I've included some inspiring images of local school-kids artwork. The work has been displayed in three venues across the city and I find them interesting to show the emphasis placed on learning about their own country's flora and fauna. The children have obviously learnt from their detailed studies to create some stunning pieces. They use particularly striking colours too. I've been to quite a few other galleries, but they don't allow photography unfortunately. I've just been reading someone else's blog from a visit to Wellington
and they managed to feed the otters at the zoo, so I'll be planning to do that soon!!
There are more photos below