Magnus: "Is it more a mindset than a talent?"
David: "Yes, I don't see myself has having any particular talent. It's just that I've always done it. It's what I do. It's my hobby and my passion. Passion is a key word. I see it as a dedication and I put the time and effort into teaching myself how to make something even better. "
Magnus: "Do you always model something from a plan or is there "free form" model making?"
David: "All of the above. At the moment I'm working on a raygun of my own design. I'm pulling together bits from different places and from my "junk" boxes and just put them together into something that's hopefully cool. It's a very satisfying thing to do. The other extreme would be an engineering model or an approved concept for a film model, where you have to be fairly precise.
"For Greg Broadmore's rayguns, he supplies me with a sketch or a painting that I interpret. And then we discuss it, change things, exchange ideas until we have a finished product. Please don't let the world know what an opinionated bastard Greg Broadmore is and how he nitpicks at everything I do. It's so FRUSTRATING! You can edit this, can't you...?"
Magnus: "Sure, Dave - you can count on me. He will never know."
"What might we find you doing when you're not here? Because you do leave sometimes don't you?"
David: "Actually, could you get your feet off my bed - I know it looks like a footrest, but I actually sleep there."
Magnus: "Oh, sorry."
David: "Well, I do have a house of course, but my job is also my hobby. But sometimes it's good to get away from the chemicals, the sanding, the paint fumes and the dust and build something nice and clean, like LEGO. I find it an incredible art form, building my own stuff out of generic bricks, but also getting a set that an artist has designed. And I also try to watch some TV."
Magnus: "Have you ever tried the LEGO builder software on the LEGO website?"
David: "Yes, I've designed a couple of Doctor Who models that way. But I also get frustrated and want to make my own LEGO bricks when they don't have something I need... or when it's the wrong colour. But you can always paint LEGO bricks, I guess..."
Magnus: "Favourite movie?"
David: "That's a tricky one. I love so much from so many movies. But right at the top, I place Doctor Who and Thunderbirds. And other Jerry Anderson stuff, but mainly Thunderbirds. Doctor Who I grew up on from episode No 1 and Thunderbirds - my dad used to make models of the vehicles out of wood."
Magnus: "If I were to push you for a feature length movie?"
David: "It would have to be Star Wars, because it was such a big turning point. A major step up in movie making, special effects, adventure, excitement. Right across the board it has been such a great inspiration to so many people. Here at Weta and in other places."
Magnus: "If I were to ask you to name your favourite toy - what'd it be?"
David: "The Thunderbirds models my dad made me as a child. They are the ones I treasure the most and what I would grab first in a fire."
Magnus: "Can you pick one for a photo?"
David: "I guess it would have to be Thunderbird 2 as it was the first one he made. With a functioning pod that fits the Thunderbird 4 that he also built."
Magnus: "Thanks David!"
* Grond image:
© 2011 New Line Productions, Inc. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and the
names of the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz
Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc.
This time, we have stealthily cornered David Tremont - Senior Model Maker at Weta Workshop.
Involved to some extent in just about every single collectible we produce.
From all the rayguns to the District 9 Exosuit, there is nothing this man cannot build or make or conjure up from bits in boxes, from wood or metal on the lathe or from delicate pieces of resin or glass or... well, you name it.
Most recently, he's been the model maker in charge of creating our Rivendell environment and we thought it appropriate to introduce him properly.
He has already become a popular participant on our forum on The Shadow and Flame - famed for his ostentatious use of humour, sarcasm and emoticons. He answers questions from the collectors with a great deal of enthusiasm.
David has been at Weta for the last 10 years (or as Dave puts it - 'since 9/11 happened') and it's about time we got to know more about him.
Magnus Hjert (interviewer): "Dave, was there a moment in your life when you realized you wanted to work in the movies?"
David Tremont: "It wasn't the movies specifically - I was too young to make that distinction, but ever since I saw the Thunderbird vehicles trundling across the landscape I knew that's what I wanted to do. I always knew they were models and I'd go off and make them out of Lego or my dad would make them out of wood. And ever since then, I knew. At that point I probably didn't put into words that I wanted to be a model maker, but I knew I wanted to make stuff. And later I put the two together.
"It was in my teens, or perhaps even earlier, that I made the connection that there might be a way to make a living out of making models for movies. There were actually people doing this. I saw pictures in books and it was a slowly evolving process."
Magnus: "What was your first job making stuff for movies?"
David: "My very first job where I worked on the production of a film was a commercial when service stations started selling goods other than petrol. A local petrol station did a commercial and a couple of us built a model of it. It was a fantastic experience learning how to dirty things down to make them look real. And people thought it was a real location until they saw an actor standing next to it.
Magnus: "You are not from New Zealand, are you, Dave?"
David: "No, I'm from New Zealand's mainland, Australia. Ah, that'll go down well... perhaps better edit that out..."
Magnus: "Don't worry, Dave, I will... trust me..."
"No, what I was getting at was what you worked on before you came to Weta?"
David: "I worked in the business several decades before I came to Weta. I worked on something known as Movie of the Week. Low budget TV movies that were filmed back-to-back and kept me very busy for a long time. It was brilliant. Some of the bigger things have been Pitch Black, Space: Above and Beyond and a few others - this is where my mind goes blank."
Magnus: "And when did you start at Weta?"
David: "Right when the bombs started falling over Baghdad... in the Gulf War Part 1. No, wait, that's when I moved to the Gold Coast. It was just before 9/11. There always seem to be global calamities when I move location..."
Magnus: "Is that why they have chained you to your desk here?"
David: "That's correct. No, it was towards the end of The Lord of the Rings when Richard got in touch with me. He'd heard about me through a mutual friend who passed on my portfolio to Richard and then he chased me for a while. I had to take out a restraining order he got so persistent... well, actually, I did get rather excited and came over and visited and ended up shipping my workshop over here not long after."
Magnus: "So what did they put you to work on?"
David: "Grond. And the siege tower from the battle of Minas Tirith and Pelennor Fields. I did bits and pieces on lots of different things, but Grond was the big one."
Magnus: "What kind of size was the model?"
David: "I think we ended up doing it around 1/10th scale. It was about 4 metres long. You'd need a double garage to park it in."
Magnus: "Lucky for Sauron he had a garage like that".
David: "It was plated in lead and weighed over a tonne when it was finished. When it slammed into things, it was real. It absolutely demolished the door in the movie. At one stage we had it slamming into a forklift truck for a concussion shot and it jumped the forklift back. Considerable kinetic energy happening there."
Magnus: "No CGI?"
David: "Not Grond itself, no, just flames and environment. Grond is just good old honest lead. Does the trick."
Magnus: "You go to conventions a lot, like Comic-Con in San Diego [where Dave will be again this year - come and chat with him] and Armageddon. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a model maker?"
David: "Determination. Dedication. Don't kid yourself. For most model makers in my generation, it was all we ever did from a very early age. I think it has to be that way. Anyone can be a modelmaker, but to take that next step and become a top modelmaker requires a lot of self training.