Weta Workshop

Location: Wellington, NZ

Founded: 1987

Website: http://www.wetanz.com

The Lord of the Rings trilogy may have been the film franchise that first drew public attention to Weta Workshop—the studio won four Oscars for their work on the films—but the New Zealand shop named after the giant cricket indigenous to New Zealand has been servicing the entertainment industry since its inception in 1987.

Notable Products

  • Conceptual Design
  • Props
  • Vehicles
  • Costumes
  • Models and miniatures
  • Special FX makeup and prosthetics


What to Expect

Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger started RT Effects in a spare room of their flat, and in 1994 partnered with friends Peter Jackson and Jamie Selkirk to transform and expand the little company into Weta. Weta Workshop is the physical effects division of Weta Ltd., which also includes Weta Digital, the computer effects company. Credits on feature films and television shows include Xena, Hercules, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, Black Sheep (the jokey Kiwi horror film, not the Chris Farley–David Spade vehicle), Avatar, District 9, The Lovely Bones, and Tintin. The physical effects studio has won more than five Academy Awards and numerous other BAFTA and professional society awards. Weta Workshop also contributes to public art displays by commission of museums and art galleries, as well as live events for corporate clients.

The Weta Workshop is housed inside a 65,000-square-foot facility with operations for the design, manufacture, and finishing of anything from swords and costumes to massive animatronic apes. The Design Studio employs 2-D and 3-D artists charged with drawing up the future creations of the in-house staff of effects artists, special effects makeup artists, sculptors, carpenters, and electrical engineers, among other creative disciplines. Competition for employment is fierce, as the shop takes in 30 to 50 new applications per week. Be warned, the company claims to have more than 5,000 portfolios on file and hires only five to 10 new employees each year. However, someone has to fill those few open spots, so those with exceptional talent should not be dissuaded from trying.

The application process is conducted through Weta’s online recruitment portal, where candidates can create a professional profile and obtain instructions for submitting portfolios. Submissions should include printed (hard copy) photos of original work that demonstrates your area of expertise and level of skill. It is better to submit a small number of stellar examples than a thick envelope of mid-level or armature work. The company does not have an internship or apprentice program. Weta is legally obligated to hire non-residents of New Zealand only in the event that a candidate of equal skill and experience cannot be found within the country. However, American citizens have secured employment in the past. The next hurdle will be the process of obtaining a work visa.


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