Opportunities don't come bigger than this for Visual Effects artists. Working at Weta Digital is as good as it gets. Katinka Thorondor won an Internship in the 2018 Rookie Awards and talks us through the amazing experience.

Tell us about the internship at Weta Digital?

It was amazing! Drawing is what I love, so to do that at such a prestigious company, with world renowned artists, and getting to work on movies?

It was a dream come true. The people are super welcoming and friendly, and the work atmosphere turns any job into a pleasure. I got a highly informative look into the industry.

It really and truly was an incredible experience.  I am humbled to have had the opportunity to intern there.

What were you most surprised with when you first started?

When I started I was definitely surprised at how welcoming everyone was, the work atmosphere is amazing and it really is like a big family there.

They picked me up from the airport and oriented me into NZ and Weta (which was super helpful and took away any worries). Cool. It’s a really lovely environment to work in.

Did you feel prepared from your past education?

Fairly much so. My school definitely prepared me for working in the industry, although nothing is quite like the real experience. So I was a little apprehensive at first, but thankfully during my internship there weren’t any tight deadlines or heavy workloads, and it ended up being not quite as scary as I had been anticipating.

What were some highlights?

Working on concepts for movies. Seeing behind the scenes of upcoming movies. Seeing the process and pipeline of the art department. I even got to meet the director of one of the movies I did concepts for!

Any advice for people entering into the Rookie Awards?

I would say don't hold back because of being nervous or shy about your skills. You will never know how well your work will be accepted until you get it out there. Do your very best and make sure you have a well rounded portfolio. Make sure that the pieces you enter are the best examples of your work, so add some new pieces that are your best ever!

Who are your artistic influences?

Definitely Terryl Whitlatch and Ellen Jewett. They have the most stunning and inspiring creature designs, really amazing. James Gurney is another strong influence of mine. His Color and Light book has been a big help. And he draws dinosaurs, so that’s cool.

What made you enter the Rookie Awards?

My school (CG Spectrum) sent a newsletter informing students about it, and my teacher (Brandon Reimchen) highly recommended that I enter.

How did you find your experience with The Rookies?

It was great to see all the other students’ entries in all the different categories. I was very proud to have been selected to the draft (I even bought the Tshirt!).

I was also super excited when I learned Weta Digital, a company I’d always had on my ‘dream companies to work for’ list, was offering an internship, but I had no idea when I checked the box to apply that I would win it.

So I was super stunned when I learned I’d won the internship. It was mind-blowing!

What was the one thing you learned about yourself?

I learnt you shouldn't doubt yourself before you even begin, because you'll never know until you try.

Why would you recommend other students to enter the Rookie Awards?

When you enter you get a chance of winning anything from internships to scholarships, to The Rookie of the Year award! And just getting your name out there. It is amazing. There is absolutely no drawback to entering The Rookies, the great thing about it is you don’t even need to create specific new pieces to enter, you can just submit your school work etc.  So absolutely just go for it!

How did entering the Rookie Awards help you?

Entering the Rookie Awards gave me a lot of exposure and helped me connect with students from different schools all over the world. And of course win an amazing internship at Weta Digital! It is definitely a great platform to get your name out there and connect with the industry.

Is there anybody you’d like to thank?

Firstly I would like to thank my family; my mother (Mikayla) who encourages me everyday, and my siblings (Nicholas, Natasha, and Tamara) who always help me find ways to improve my art.

I want to thank my CG Spectrum mentor Brandon Reimchen for his excellent teaching and recommending I enter The Rookies in the first place. I would like to thank all the amazing people at Weta Digital, especially Gino Acevedo. You guys are the best!

And lastly a big thank you to Andrew and Alwyn from The Rookies, because without them I would never have had the chance to win the Weta Digital internship, and for that I am eternally grateful.