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November 3, 2023 November 2023, Regular Features No Comments

Gemma Wilkie loves to dance.

Gemma Wilkie

Gravesend in Northwest Kent was home. 

Gemma grew up in the small suburb of Northfleet. Her mother was a teacher, and her father a maintenance fitter for a Lead and Silver Refinery. We went to local schools, but my passion was dancing. I just loved it.

I began dancing at two and half or three. I learned Ballet, Tap, Modern and Jazz. 

At 18, I elected to undertake a BA Honours Degree in Dance and Related Arts at the University College Chichester. 

I had no idea what I wanted to do but the idea of travel, a tan, and being somewhere exotic was appealing so I got a job with a Package Holiday company. I worked in Ibiza, Cyprus, Corfu, and Lanzarote. My role was to provide entertainment to the holiday makers. There were games such as shuffleboard, darts, pool, water polo. For evening entertainment, we were tasked with creating shows.

While I was having a great time we were paid a pittance. It was time for a change. 

Every year as children we had gone on holiday to Florida. We visited all the film studios. At MGM we had a backstage tour where I found out about Green screens for the first time. They showed us how a scene in “Honey! I Shrunk the Kids” was created. 

My sister and I were placed on a massive bumble bee. We were blown about by a huge wind fan  and were required to scream at certain times. Then they showed us how the green screen was altered to show us zooming through a garden. It was mind blowing. I knew what I wanted to do.

A short editing course was my starting point. Then a one-week special course giving an overview of planning, storyboarding, finding locations, creating a short film, composition, and editing. I was hooked. 

On to London to a taster course and a 3-month intensive compositing course. Compositing is bringing everything together for a shot in a movie, blending together multiple images and elements. The aim is to make the film look as if it has all been filmed simultaneously.

Working for Double Negative I gained my first film credit for my rotoscoping and painting of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” It was thrilling to be recognised.

But then came a twist. I met Ed Wilkie who was also working as a compositor. He asked me to move to New Zealand. I came out for a trip and loved Martinborough. In February and summer, it seemed as if everyone was on holiday all the time.

I moved to New Zealand in 2009 and we lived in Wellington. We married in 2013 and spent a couple of years in Canada, where Ed got a job working on a film. 

We moved to Martinborough in 2017 to raise our two boys. 

I am now working at Wētā fx as a compositor and Ed? Well, Ed is trying not to shrink our two children.

And I am still dancing.

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