As Wellington revels in celebrations for the world première of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a group of quiet high achievers will gather to celebrate the achievements of their colleagues on the red carpet - and to begin telling behind-the-scenes stories of the New Zealand capital’s burgeoning screen and digital sector.
Untold Tales will be revealed at Wellington’s Paramount cinema - overlooking the red carpet on Courtenay Place - when 250 of the region’s top content makers, innovators and entrepreneurs come together for a film industry event highlighting their own success stories.
The event will help launch a video series featuring local screen and digital identities that has been developed by the regional film and economic development agencies - Film Wellington and Grow Wellington - and these will also be available to a wider audience on Vimeo and YouTube.
Noteworthy success stories include a medical technology company that uses highly digital image technology to improve breast scanning technology.
Used in national breast screening programmes around the world, Matakina’s life-saving technology has developed on the back of ready access to a specialised workforce - technicians, engineers and programmers in high-end visual image technology who have emerged from the Wellington film industry which trains and utilises hundreds of technicians with the same skill sets.
Then there is 77 Pieces. Founded by an award winning visual effects artist and a mathematician, the company uses post production and visual effects techniques to provide and digital fitting system that is likely to revolutionise the way the world shops online.
There are many more examples of companies of this calibre; companies who produce tailor-made smartphone and tablet based apps for Dreamworks and CNN (Carnival Labs), or a software development company (Factorial) whose founder previously worked in Switzerland on the Large Hadron Collider experiments at CERN.
Film industry connections
Smart, ambitious and highly creative, most of the companies featured at Untold Tales have a direct or indirect connection to the film industry of Miramar, leveraging technology, connections, and the global interest in Wellington that has been generated in the last 10 years.
While the New Zealand tourism implications for The Hobbit Trilogy are often more obvious, the progress, innovation and diversification occurring within the Wellington screen and digital sector is remarkable.
The continual investment in technology and talent that the production of large scale films has created has given Wellington a remarkable human resource. The region, which has always prided itself on the quality of its universities, research institutions and culture is quietly but steadily turning itself into the Silicon Valley of the South Pacific.
And, given the considerable lifestyle advantages the region offers over many other tech and innovation centres around the globe, Wellington is beginning to attract young, tech entrepreneurs from all over the world to join its own local progeny.
One of the most positive long-term legacies from these blockbuster movies for Wellington could be this flourishing screen and digital sector. The potential is undeniably there and if the calibre of the companies attending Untold Tales is anything to go by it is certainly worth keeping an ear tuned (or an eye peeled) for the next wave of global success stories coming out of the Middle of Middle-earth.