5 minutes with Ben Milsom: ComicFest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels, talks and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

We’ve caught up with Ben Milsom from Pukeko Pictures, Production Designer and an Episodic Director on Thunderbirds Are Go! At ComicFest, Ben will be presenting the process of re-imagining the 1960’s classic for a new generation. Catch him from 11am-12pm at ComicFest – all attendees to Ben’s talk will go in the draw to win a family pass to the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go from Weta Studio Tours!

You can also pop in to the Central Library to see our amazing Thunderbirds Are Go display, courtesy of Ben and the Pukeko Pictures team!

Thunderbirds Are Go display
Thunderbirds Are Go display at the Central library

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I have been involved with Thunderbirds Are Go for over 3 years now as Production Designer and an Episodic Director. Before, I worked on a western cowboy movie called ‘Slow West’ starring Michael Fassbender, being in charge of all of the actors hand props on set. Before that, I was on the Hobbit trilogy for 3 years as the main unit Art Director.

Thunderbirds Are Go Behind the scenes
From ITV Studios / Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop
Pictured: A uranium mine from the episode Crosscut.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I have always been massively interested in the horror/scifi genre. The most influential film for me has been Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’. It blew my mind as a 10 year old, and sparked my interest in film making, practical effects and ‘fantasy’ environment building. Parallel to this, I have always been fascinated by the work of HR Giger, and his uniquely original style and approach to Art and Design. Other influential movies for me have been: John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ and Luc Besson’s ‘Leon’ aka ‘The Professional’ to name a few.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Generally very busy. This year is great because I can focus solely on the Thunderbirds Are Go project. Plenty of meetings and prep work as we build up to the start of the shoot. As we start to build the season 3 sets, I will get a lot more ‘hands on’ and join the art department as we create the physical miniature world of Thunderbirds Are Go. I can’t help myself!

Thunderbirds Are Go Behind the scenes
From ITV Studios / Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop
Pictured: Marine laboratory.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: We shoot live action plates, animate our characters (and many sequences). One thing I always do for every sequence, as we shoot it or animate it, is physically go through the beats of the action myself. I find this immensely helpful for timing and pacing of each sequence, dialogue notes and overall feel for a scene. The more reality and true emotion you throw into any scene, the more satisfying it is for me and hopefully our audience.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I would love to re-visit the ‘Alien Vs Predator’ universe – and be involved in a darker, grittier Movie adaptation of some of the Dark Horse material. This could be SO AWESOME!

Thunderbirds Are Go!
Thunderbirds Are Go!

Find Pukeko Pictures online:
Facebook: /pukekopictures.nz
Twitter: @pukekopictures
Website: pukekopictures.com