This Little Piggy


Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople is currently climbing its way up the list of the top ten highest-earning local films.

From shoot to screen it’s been a quick journey by the standards of Waititi’s previous features. The same was true of Weta Digital’s involvement, coming on board to create a wild pig which, without giving anything away for those who haven’t yet seen the film, crosses paths with Ricky (played by Julian Dennison) and Hec (Sam Neill).

Weta’s VFX Supervisor Kevin Smith said, “After five years working on The Hobbit trilogy, and going on to the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which will run for nine months to a year, the shortness of making Wilderpeople’s pig was quite a pleasant interlude.”

Often those major studios projects on which Weta works happen at glacial speed, Smith said. The team would hear rumours of a project, a year or more would pass, and something might or might not arrive in the studio to be worked on. “With Wilderpeople,” Smith said, “we had a meeting on a Friday, put a team together on Monday, and started on Tuesday.”

Wilderpeople producer Carthew Neal had worked with Weta Digital earlier in 2015 on visiting Disney feature Pete’s Dragon. “I witnessed the magic they could create, not only from a technical animation point of view but also in using VFX to bring a character to life, with its own character traits and personality.”

One thing Weta Digital is really good at is building creatures. “We’ve done hundreds of hobbits and apes,” said Smith, “so furry creatures are pretty easy.”

When Wilderpeople came in Weta was already working on a couple of other features mixing live action with CG creatures: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip and the King Louis sequence for the just-released live action adaptation of The Jungle Book.

The company’s also been busy on Batman Vs Superman, Deadpool as well as several upcoming studio titles: Steven Spielberg’s BFG, Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Central Intelligence, Nic Mathieu’s Spectral, as well as a couple of 2017 titles, Luc Besson’s Valerian and Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes.