Studying filmmaking in New Zealand has given Edward Catley the opportunity to work alongside Oscar-winning creative talents – and become part of the team behind an epic new blockbuster.
Edward has worked with film industry giants who created movies such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and Avatar.
Now he’s a witness camera operator on Mortal Engines, the post-apocalyptic adventure film based on the books by Philip Reeve.
Edward’s job involves recording the reference footage used by digital artists creating visual effects. He learned his trade at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), where he gained a Bachelor of Design with a major in Digital Design.
He was inspired to study filmmaking in New Zealand by the international success and reputation of the country’s film industry, which is supported by an innovative, high-quality education system that encourages students to gain in-demand skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication and collaboration.
In 2017, New Zealand was ranked first in the world at educating students for the future by The Economist Intelligence Unit in 2017.
Edward worked as an intern motion capture technician while at university and for a few months after graduating. His big break came when he was hired as a motion capture tracker at Wellington’s Weta Digital, one of the world’s leading visual effects companies.
“Before my final year, the university invested in building an industry-standard motion capture studio,” says Edward.
“It was a platform for me and other students to get hands-on experience with an ever-developing technology, and to work as interns to deliver work at a professional standard to a variety of clients.
Students in New Zealand also learn from work experience and real-life life projects, which makes them ready to work from the moment they graduate.
For Edward, having work experience in the film industry in his third year was one of the most enjoyable parts of his degree.
“It broke me out of my former introverted shell and forced me to meet and work with people already established in the industry who I used to find impossible to approach.”
Knowing that New Zealand had a deep pool of industry-ready film professionals like Edward, the Mortal Engines’ production team could be confident of making the movie entirely in New Zealand. About 98% of its crew – 470 people – are New Zealand residents.
“This experience ultimately qualified me for the motion capture role I was offered here in Wellington.”