Jane & The Dragon

Jane And The Dragon
Saturday May 12, 5.30pm

This weekend, get ready to see Weta Productions’ first foray into television, with the magical adaptation of the children’s book series, Jane And The Dragon.

This is one very modern fairytale about an extraordinary 12-year-old girl. As an only child, Jane lives in the medieval Royal Court and has been raised to be a Lady in-waiting. A combination of determination and good fortune changes tomboy Jane’s life, and she becomes a Knight-in-training. Accompanied by her best friend, a 300-year-old Dragon, Jane demonstrates her bravery and kindness in a series of adventures set in Feudal Times.

Author and illustrator Martin Baynton has published over 30 children’s book titles, and has often been asked why he could “write like a girl”; “I took it as a compliment”, he says. The Jane and the Dragon books, including ‘The Dragon’s Purpose’ and ‘Jane and the Magician’, are all about following your dreams. Jane hated sewing and longed to be a knight, and so her sheer determination leads her to do the unexpected. With universal themes about friendship and coming-of-age, Jane’s stories include a colourful and unique array of characters, including; Smithy, the blacksmith and resident heart-throb; Jester, Jane’s friend with a secret crush; Pepper, the royal cook; and the young Prince and Princess who Jane is charged with protecting, but who she sometimes needs to be protected from!

With a background in stage, radio, TV and film as a producer, director, screenwriter and script editor (including a stint as the character Geoff Smith on Shortland Street), Martin Baynton always had the dream of bringing his books to the small screen. He decided to approach Richard Taylor at Weta Productions, who coincidently had been looking for a television project, so they have become co-producers on this ground-breaking series that also airs in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Australia.

The same motion-capture technology Weta developed to create the Gollum character for The Lord of the Rings has been used for Jane And The Dragon – although rather than for just one character it has created the entire series. Actors’ movements were captured by cameras, which then generated a computerised skeleton over which the animators could draw. Martin explains that they also created a way to give real-time feedback of the actual animated characters as they were filming – so that the director would see more than just the actors in “silly suits”. No one had ever built an entire production like this before, and the result is that the storybook illustrations are brought to the screen with amazing life-like movements.

Join Jane and her friend the Dragon as they rule the royal court – or at least try to – TV2 Saturday at 5.30pm.