54 / Sir Peter Jackson

(1961–)

Widely acknowledged as an ‘absolute phenomenon’, Peter Jackson progressed from making small horror films to more ambitious works and ultimately secured the biggest movie deal in the history of cinema. Film director and producer Jackson was born and grew up in Pukerua Bay, near Wellington. He left school to work as a photo engraver, and realised a boyhood ambition when, in 1987, he made Bad Taste, a low-budget splatter-comedy-horror starring friends and family. His first feature-length drama was Heavenly Creatures (1994), which was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay. In 1995, he co-directed, wrote and featured in a mockumentary, Forgotten Silver, which purports to tell the story of a pioneering New Zealand filmmaker. His high-profile break into the big-time was with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The series was a major financial success, with the films collectively being among the highest-grossing of all time. He fulfilled another childhood dream by directing the remake of the 1933 classic King Kong in 2005, and subsequently The Hobbit has seen a continuation of the Rings’ success. Jackson was also the founder of Oscar-winning Weta Digital, a division of the Wellington-based special effects company Weta Workshop. He was knighted for his significant contribution to the Kiwi film industry in 2010.


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