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Lord of the Rings Special Effects Company ‘Weta Digital’ Launches Inquiry Into Toxic Workplace Claims

AmiMoJo shares a report from The Guardian: Weta Digital, the special effects company behind the orcs, dragons and battle scenes of the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, has launched an independent investigation into allegations of a toxic work culture including sexism, bullying and pornography being shared on its intranet. The investigation was ordered by the company’s majority owners, who include the director Peter Jackson, his wife, Fran Welsh, and screenwriter Phillipa Boyens. It followed a months-long investigation by local television station TVNZ that found complaints had been ignored by senior management at Weta Digital, and long-standing issues raised by staff had been covered up. “The world’s most beautiful toxic waste dump,” is how one former employee described the award-winning company. Allegations from former staffers include sexism, bullying, and harassment, as well as “pornographic mailing lists,'” hosted on Weta Digital’s intranet, in addition to staff openly viewing pornography in the studio.

The pornography mailing lists are alleged to have existed from at least 2002 to 2015, when they were shut down. “There was a tradition at the time called Porn Friday. Every Friday staff members would email round porn images to the whole team,” a female former Weta employee told TVNZ. “The first Friday I worked there I was so surprised, intimidated and uncomfortable. You could opt out of receiving them, which I did. “But there were still conversations amongst the team in my office every Friday about what images were sent round.” Another alleged that pornography was openly shared and watched in Weta offices. There were also allegations of sexual overtures and in some cases harassment. It was also alleged that some chose not to complain because the company is a world leader in the special effects industry, and those who experienced issues feared being blacklisted.

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