Weta Digital. You may have heard of this visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand. It's co-owned by Peter Jackson and most famous for doing the digital special effects work for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar and many more films. It is by far one of the most successful businesses to have come out of New Zealand and one of the factors that contribute to its success is it's willingness to go the extra mile for its clients. Sounds cliché but one Weta executive explains why it's worth doing so.
Image: New Line Cinema
Weta Digital has won a number of awards for its digital visual effects work and chances are you've seen at least one movie the company has worked on in the last 20 years. Despite being located in New Zealand, well away from the bustling entertainment production hub that is Hollywood, Weta Digital continues to score work for major blockbuster movies.
You can't deny that Weta Digital does great work, but there are plenty of VFX studios out there that are probably less remote than an operation from Wellington. So why do big filmmakers continue to knock on Weta Digital's door? (And before you say cost, there are plenty of cheaper VFX outfits out there, both in the US and abroad.) According to Weta Digital head of marketing Dave Gouge, it's because the company doesn't just do what they're told; they go beyond it.
"There will be times when a director gives the final approval on a shot and the work is done and ready to go. But we may still go and work on it for another week because we feel like it can be better," he told Lifehacker Australia.
One of the most recent films Weta worked on was Independence Day: Resurgence. It was the first time the film's director Roland Emmerich had worked with the studio. In an interview with Wired.com, he spoke highly of Weta Digital and was eager to work with the company again. Emmerich noted that some companies only do what the clients tell them to do but Weta would come back with options that proved to be better alternatives.
This kind of worth ethic isn't just reserved for the competitive film-making industry. Gouge said going that extra step further than what customers ask of you is a good way to not only live life but to thrive in the services business.
"It's not always practical to do so and every business is different, but you need to carve out what it is that makes you special and different. If you can find a way to do it, it's never a bad thing to offer more than what is absolutely required because it's always appreciated. Whether you're a high-tech visual effects company or a café — you can tell when somebody cared when they made you that coffee or plated your food. "It makes a difference."
Spandas Lui travelled to New Zealand as a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism