Meet the Crew: Kate Jorgensen

Kate Jorgensen with art by Christian Gosset
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  • Kate Jorgensen with art by Christian Gosset


Magnus: "Now - we would love to hear more about The Art of the Adventures of Tintin."

Kate: "Yes, that's something that's very close to my heart. I was the design studio manager during the conceptual design of The Adventures of Tintin - from the early meetings with Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg and for the next two years."

Magnus: "What is your role in the book publishing process?"

Kate: "I'm essentially the project manager. It's my job to work closely with the author; Chris Guise for the Tintin book and wrangle the contributors, make sure the project stays on target, sourcing assets from Weta Digital and other companies, facilitate the approvals from film makers, the studio, Paramount, etc."

Magnus: "It's a pretty unique situation, isn't it, to write and launch a book before the movie is even out?"

Kate: "Yes, that's very rare, which of course makes it even more important to get all these things right. The book launches October 13 and the movie not until the 26th in Europe and at Christmas in the US."

Magnus: "And we've just found out that it's being translated."

Kate: "Yes, that's very exciting - the majority of Tintin fans in the world don't have English as a first language, so for us it was always important to achieve this. And we have now agreed with our friends at Moulinsart in Belgium that the book will be translated into French, Dutch, Spanish and Japanese before the end of the year. And we're even discussing a few more."

Magnus: "What's your favourite movie?"

Kate: "Ooooh - hard question. I have a Top 5. Or 6, maybe. The Matrix, Being John Malkovich, Heavenly Creatures, Fight Club and High Fidelity. And more recently Inception.

Magnus: "And finally, we just need to talk a bit about your toy/prop/thing you brought along."

Kate: "I couldn't bring my cat or my child, so I brought a picture. It was given to me by Christian Gosset who's an artist I really love. He puts together the Red Star comics series. Which I believe you sell in the Weta Cave?

Magnus: "Yes".

Kate: "He did some work here at Weta when I was managing the design department and he came out and worked with us for several weeks. And before he left he very generously gave me one of his original artworks and sketches. But what's even cooler is that he used my hand as the model for the sketch, so it was my first outing as a hand model! Not many people get to say that!"

Magnus: "Especially for a comic. Thanks for joining us Kate!" 

This time we'll be talking to Kate Jorgensen who is a driving force behind Weta's recent publishing ventures. The Weta Collector's Guide was the first project she managed, working closely with Daniel Falconer and the Weta Limited team to make sure it was the exhaustive anthology of Weta collectibles, both unreleased and released.

And then she dove straight into The Art of The Adventures of Tintin. Another mammoth project.

But this isn't the first time Kate's been at Weta.

Magnus Hjert (interviewer): "Welcome to Meet the Crew, Kate. Now you've been working here at Weta twice. At least?"

Kate Jorgensen: "Yes, at least. I was the VFX Art Department co-ordinator on King Kong and was based in Weta's design room. I worked very closely with Gus Hunter and Jeremy Bennett who were VFX Art Directors conceptualizing the Skull Island and New York environments for Peter. They are two of the most amazing artists I know, so it was a great introduction to working at Weta."

Magnus: "And then you stayed on?"

Kate: "Yes, after Kong, Richard asked me to stay and look after the Design Department and I did that for about 3 years and then left at the end of 2008 to have my daughter Penny. And then I came back again at the beginning of this year to work on publishing and book projects. I'd had exposure to this before when we made The Crafting of Narnia while I was managing the design room and it was such a great project to work on, especially as I had been so closely involved with the Prince Caspian movie. So far I have been involved with the fabulous Weta Collector's Guide that Daniel Falconer has written and edited and of course The Art of the Adventures of Tintin."

Magnus: "Yes, we will of course get back to that in a minute. Have you known from an early age that you wanted to work in movies or was it something you just stumbled into?"

Kate: "I definitely knew I wanted to do something that was creative. And I also knew I wanted to do something with the Media. I have a communications degree and media is a strong thread that runs through my family, journalists, TV reporters, book editors etc so you could say it's in my blood. I did seven years in television at TVNZ."

"When I was travelling overseas I did some work in Canada on a "movie of the week" starring Valerie Bertinelli. At the time she was married to Eddie Van Halen who used to visit the set with their son, Wolfgang, who had the smallest, most expensive guitar I'd ever seen. Anyway, the movie was called Finding John Christmas - quite cheesy, but tremendous fun to work on."

"I've always been interested in art and art history as well, so perhaps it was inevitable that I sought out Weta and the movie industry when I returned from my travels. And that I ended up in the design department."

Magnus: "If someone out there right now is thinking ‘I would like a job like Kate's' how should they go about it?"

Kate: "It's important to be good at communicating. You work with a lot of people in different roles. Many of them are also best at expressing themselves visually, so it's important that you are flexible and personable and can deal with different types of people. You need to be open to trying new ways of doing stuff and to a certain extent ‘roll with the punches' even though that sounds worse than it is. Confidence and a sense of humour definitely helps. I guess my journalism training helped me with a lot of that."

"You also need to be OK with the fact that working in Production, it's not going to be your name on the cover or the person who gets credited with the creation. For me the most fun is to be part of the creative journey."

Magnus: "What would we find you doing on a Sunday afternoon?"

Kate: "You'd probably find me feeding the ducks in the Botanical Gardens with my daughter or just out for a walk, going to the movies, drinking far too much coffee - ‘chillaxing'. I also have my own little creative projects that I work on in the evenings."

"Being a Kiwi, I also quite enjoy doing a bit of DIY around the house, so you often find me on a Sunday afternoon with a paintbrush or fixing something."



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