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Mortal Engines – Made in Wellington

You’d never suspect that a film of the epic scale of post-apocalyptic adventure Mortal Engines, was filmed and produced entirely in the small city of Wellington, New Zealand.

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In fact, the movie, the first feature film directed by Wellington local Christian Rivers, was filmed and produced almost all along a single street in the seaside suburb of Miramar.

From set design, costumes, VFX and post-production, the Universal Pictures and MRC film draws on the exceptional talent from across the Wellington region.

For Rivers, Wellington’s depth of talent made the process of making Mortal Engines in New Zealand’s capital an enjoyable one

“I’ve known all these crews [in Wellington] as they have come together over the years. It’s just a hot bed of creative and technical talent, and I can’t imagine going anywhere else,” says Christian.

“It’s a filmmaking community that I just want to support and draw from.”

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It wasn’t just Wellington’s filmmaking talent that the production made the most of; its musicians also were involved with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra recording the score.

“The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is a world class orchestra, so it was great to be able to score here even though our composer, Junkie XL, is based in LA.

“He came down with his team and we got to score the film with some of the best musicians in the world,” says River.

Rivers says Wellington attracts a lot of imaginative people, sometimes just for a film project but many choose to stay.

“Wellington just draws so much creativity. It draws a lot of creative artistic people, and technical people, people who want to innovate. They happen to come here, and they never leave!”

“I could mention anyone that works for Weta Workshop or someone like Gino Acevedo or Joe Letteri, people who are the best in the world at what they do. They come here, and they find a home here in the creative film industry and they never leave – I guess I’m just one of those people,” says Christian.

Of the 926-crew working on Mortal Engines, 98 per cent were New Zealanders – and 72 per cent of speaking roles went to local talent.

Mortal Engines was filmed on 67 different sets across different facilities and external locations. Each week, 6,150 hours of manpower were collectively used on costume creation.

Local caterers fed up to 700 people each day – sometimes in multiple locations. Nearly 2,250 kilos of coffee kept the Mortal Engines crew caffeinated during their shoots.

Screen Wellington’s Katie Frost says Mortal Engines is evidence that the entire filmmaking process can be done in Wellington, making for an easy, collaborative and streamlined process.

“We have diverse locations all within a short distance, the talent, facilities and infrastructure, and a great lifestyle that makes filming here easier and enjoyable.

“This film is certainly a testament to our ability to make incredible productions and innovate as we go. We are very lucky to be surrounded by these people and businesses every day.”