“It was a Friday evening. I was nine years old and I was watching King Kong on TV. That night I understood what I will become,” said Peter Jackson. Although he was aware in that instant that his future as a filmmaker was a certainty, I’m sure that nine-year-old Jackson didn’t anticipate that he would go on to direct the film’s remake, let alone two award-winning blockbuster trilogies and become one of the most powerful players in Hollywood.

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Born in 1961 in Wellington, New Zealand, to English emigrant parents Joan and Bill, Jackson was a feverish film fan. Using a Super 8 cine-camera that was gifted to him by a family friend, he attempted to remake King Kong (1933) using stop-motion models that he created. Jackson made several other film projects, the most notable being a 20-minute short called The Valley (1976) which garnered the 15 year-old budding director a special prize. At 16, he left school to work as a photo-engraver at The Evening Post. During his time working there he saved enough money to buy himself a 16 mm camera and began shooting his first feature film Bad Taste (1987). Bad Taste premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and the industry were clearly impressed by Jackson’s talent and potential as the rights to the film were quickly sold to twelve countries. Jackson’s further releases were similarly well received, but it was his 1994 feature Heavenly Creatures that really made him a critical darling. The film, based on true events, told the story of two teenage girls in 1950s Christchurch who, after becoming best friends, murdered one of their mothers. Jackson and co-writer Fran Walsh were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for their efforts and Heavenly Creatures starred Kate Winslet in her first ever film role. Winslet later remarked, “Everything that I know, I learned on that film,” and called her experience shooting it “a profound time and a very, very special film.” Several more low-budget features followed before Jackson won the rights to J. R. R Tolkein’s epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings and released The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001, the first instalment of the sweeping cinematic trilogy. The production of the trilogy which occurred back-to-back was unprecedented in Hollywood as Jackson insisted that every single item in Middle-earth should be made from scratch. He noted of the decision, “I had to create the most believable world I could. The decision was to make it feel very historical, with the levels of detail creating the illusion that the viewers were immersing themselves in a real world.” This dedication to believability paid off and the saga catapulted Jackson to the height of popularity and is considered to be a landmark in the fantasy genre. The Return of the King became the first fantasy film to win Best Picture and only the second sequel to win. It also earned Jackson an Oscar for Best Director.

Peter Jackson, directed three Lord of the Rings.

As well as being a writer and director, Jackson is also a prolific producer. His next producing project set to hit cinemas is Mortal Engines, due for release 14th December, 2018. Jackson first experiences interest in the movie adaptation of the novel of the same name in late 2009. Alongside frequent collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, Jackson also co-wrote the film’s script and enlisted Christian Rivers (who worked as a storyboard artist and visual effects supervisor on the majority of Jackson’s filmography) to helm the adventure flick. Unmissable Picks
  • Heavenly Creature (1994)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • King Kong (2005)
  • The Lovely Bones (2009)
By Evie Brudenall
Author: Estelle


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