Taika Waititi might be recognized as the most prominent and high-profile Kiwi filmmaker today, but we shouldn’t forget that honor once belonged to Peter Jackson, the acclaimed director of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
In a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his upcoming MCU blockbuster Thor: Love and Thunder, Waititi admitted that his production team stole green screens from the set of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit due to budgetary reasons. This was apparently back before he could afford to buy them for his own, so the crew of What We Do in the Shadows had to do with what they nicked off of Warner’s Middle-earth sets.
Colbert asked the director if he consulted his fellow filmmaker before taking on these huge projects. Waititi said that he did so with Thor: Ragnarok, but his collaboration with Jackson actually goes back to the time he was working on What We Do in the Shadows, unbeknownst to The Lord of the Rings director himself.
“Also, when I did, when we were doing The Shadows. When Jermaine [Clement] and I were shooting that… we didn’t have much money to do that film. And The Hobbit was just wrapped, so our production designer… man, I don’t know if I should tell this, but I will. Our production designer, in the dead of night, took his crew to The Hobbit studios and stole all of the dismantled, broken-down green screens. And took all of the timber, and we built a house. What We Do in the Shadows is built out of Hobbit green screen.”
Taika says that he never talked to Jackson about this. “I don’t know if he knows,” he joked. “I like telling it at parties, that story, but I don’t know if he actually knows.”
In a way, you could say they were there and back again before Jackson or his team could find out about it.