The Filmmakers
The Filmmakers

Interview with Richard Taylor
Director of WETA Workshop and Creature, Miniature, Armour, Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor

What are you most proud of out of your work on The Lord of the Rings?

I feel confident that we’ve succeeded in painting the pallet of Tolkien’s vision across the whole film. We’ve looked after the armor, the weapons and the creatures and bits and pieces, the prosthetics, and miniatures… It’s a great achievement to bring all of these elements together and make it feel like a world that these could live in.

Explain how you went about bringing the world of Middle-earth to life…

We’ve tried to keep the feeling of culture within a race of people and a feeling that there is a massive history throughout the centuries. I’m a big believer in using, for instance, the detail in the armor to accomplish this. The feeling is conveyed that centuries and centuries of people have developed the look of this culture through graphic design and embellishment and such like. We’ve taken great pains to create distinct graphics for each army and made sure that we transfer that into the armor. We’ve created a graphical history for the story with elements from over so many thousands of years before the point where we join the story, and made sure that it all sinks in together.

What were some of the challenges?

One of my biggest challenges has been trying to come up with as many sculptures as possible in such a short length of time… trying to mass-produce a huge army with every component being different. We’ve purchased a machine that’s revolutionized the way that we’ve made stuff back in the workshop. It’s a urethane-spraying machine that allows us to make flexible armor. You can make over a hundred helmets a day with it. It’s given us the ability to really quickly make them as opposed to how we used to make things, which was all in fiberglass and a fairly slow and tedious process.

What has impressed you about this project?

I think everybody appreciates that we’re making film history here in New Zealand. We’re attempting to leave a legacy with the work that we’re doing on the show. Right down to the most deep background performer, everyone seems into it. Everyone’s been caught up in Peter’s vision for the film and in the excitement of the project.

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© 2002 New Line Productions, Inc. ™ The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.