oday we sat down with Greg Broadmore designer extraordinaire and creator of Dr. Grordbort’s worlds.
BTT: You started in design back in 2000 illustrating children’s books. What inspired you to move into the area of design?
GB: I had no driving ambition to get into film design, I have just always drawn robots, dinosaurs, fantastical things, science fiction etc… I was living in Wellington, New Zealand and when the Lord of the Rings came out it was a no-brainer. It was a kind of ‘duh’ moment actually. I had not even considered the possibility that I could work in film, or that Weta Workshop was doing the sort of thing I could help with. When Fellowship came out it dawned on me that they did for a living what I’ve always done for fun and so I sent in a folio asap.
The children’s book work was the first real illustrative work I was ever paid for, but it was not my goal to do it – it was just all that I though existed locally that I could realistically have a go at.
Now after years in film, and after getting to develop my own sci-fi world, and now branching into game development, I am thinking again of doing some children’s books, but this time I would write and create them myself.
BTT: How has the industry changed since your first days with WETA?
GB: I would say probably in the obvious ways – the inexorable advance of the influence of computers. Both a good and a bad thing I think.
The computer can be a crutch as much as a enabler in the world of film.
BTT: You created Dr. Grordbort’s world, which has gone out as comics, props, books, and collectables. What would you like to be next for it that is has not yet been?
GB: Well, my heart has always been in games and that’s something I’m getting to explore now, in a serious way.
We’ve already dabbled in that world by releasing a slew of DrG rayguns and items in one of my favourite games, Team Fortress 2. That was hugely successful, and helped to refocus me in that direction.
BTT: In creating these worlds how important is backstory?
GB: Hugely – it’s everything for me. I don’t plan out long chronologies of events and timelines etc… that doesn’t particularly interest me. But I do think of the world as a system, of opposing forces, values and aesthetics etc.. that’s how I view back story.
BTT: A film had been rumoured, how much can you say about this? Live, action, or animated, etc.?
GB: We’ve talked a lot about a film over the last 5 years or more. It’s and ongoing discussion, and many opportunities have popped up around it, but no concrete plan has ever been decided on.
It’s a weak point for us I think. I’m not a film maker. I have designed for films, and I’m incredibly opinionated about them etc… but they’re not my passion so we’ve probably been indecisive about it.
So while I would love to enable the creation of a film, and there are people who I admire who I would love to work with that’ve expressed serious interest in playing characters, directing, writing etc… it’s not something I am actively driving towards a conclusion. It’ll just have to happen organically or not at all.
BTT: Your worlds seem custom made for theme park/attraction development. Have you been approached about this and/or would you consider it if offered?
GB: The ideas certainly been floated between myself, Richard and Tania – or ideas in that realm.
I’d love to see this world paid out on in that way – the Venusian environments would make incredibly trippy fodder for a theme park.
BTT: What is it about this era of science fiction that attracts you?
GB: Well, I love science fiction in general – I love technology, and I love how technology influences culture. When you look back at previous eras of extreme technological change you can see things more clearly than when you’re amid the change, so the industrial revolution, the age of rocketry, the age of radio, the age of atomics… all these epochs are fascinating and their influence on sci-fi is marked. It’s probably the aesthetics of the era too. Dr. Grordbort’s is a mix of 1900’s through to 1930’s and that period of design and sci-fi design is just something that has appealed to me since I was a kid.
BTT: You have created quite a name for yourself in a variety if industries now, do you find you have more creative freedom with this notoriety?
GB: Hmm, I’ve not thought of it that way. I get bored easily when I focus on one ‘career’ for too long I suppose. Not that I think of myself having a career… I just try to find things that are interesting to me and to do them.
I’ve been very lucky with the people I’ve met with similar mindsets too, like Richard Taylor.
BTT: What is next (that you can discuss) for Greg Broadmore?
GB: Hmmm, well, on a professional level, I can’t really say and have to be a secretive bastard as usual. As mentioned before, it’s in the world of videogames, and is most definitely based on DrG.
I can tell you what is directly next for me though: beer. I will be drinking one very shortly – it’s Friday afternoon here at Weta in Wellington, NZ, and crew drinks are beckoning!
BTT: What does the term “Theming” or “Theme” mean to you? (i.e. theme park or themed attraction)
GB: I’m not sure exactly what it means or if it’d be helpful for me to define, but I can tell you that it sounds right up my alley. I love world building, for film, games, comics, whatever, and the idea of imagining and building a real world fantastical space is one I love.