Best Known For
New Zealand native Peter Jackson is best known as a director for his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has won 11 Oscars.
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New Zealand director Peter Jackson started his prolific career at the young age of eight, creating short films with a 8-mm movie camera. Without any formal training, Jackson has directed a number of successful films ranging across all genres. He is most well-known for his film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has won numerous awards.
Film director. Peter Jackson was born on October 31, 1961 in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand, a picturesque coastal town near the capital of Wellington. "Our house was on the edge of a cliff that sort of plummeted right down into the ocean," Jackson recalled. "It was a children's playground, an adventure playground." His parents were both English immigrants. His father, Bill, was a local authority employee, and his mother, Joan, was a homemaker. Jackson's family bought their first TV when he was five years old, and the world of television immediately captured his young imagination, especially a futuristic English sci-fi show called Thunderbirds. Jackson's obsession with film began when he saw the original King Kong movie at the age of nine. "I think I still have a rotting puppet of King Kong somewhere in my basement," he said. "It was about a foot high. Then I made a cardboard cut-out of the Empire State Building for him to stand on, and I painted a backdrop of Manhattan."
In 1971, the same year that he saw King Kong, Jackson's parents received a Super 8 movie camera as a gift. Jackson remembers thinking, "Now I can get my spaceships that I've made, my models, and I can film them, just like Thunderbirds." Using his friends as actors, his parents' house as a set and whatever he could concoct in the kitchen for special effects, Jackson set out to make original movies. He recalled, "I did like a World War II drama film with friends of mine in old army uniforms — kids with big helmets and uniforms that don't fit very well — running around, dug trenches in my parents' garden." He attended Kapiti College, a state-run secondary school, but dropped out at the age of 16 so that he could get a job to finance his film hobby. "I just wanted to get out of school and into a job, any job, so that I could start saving up for the next piece of film equipment that I wanted," he said.
Jackson landed a job as a photographic lithographer at a local newspaper. He worked six days a week while living at home in order to save as much money as possible to purchase a state of the art camera. Once he had purchased equipment, Jackson set out to create a film. Filming only on Sundays, his one day off, over the next several years Jackson wrote and directed a full-length comedy film about flesh-eating aliens. To Jackson's great surprise, he received a $30,000 grant from the New Zealand Film Commission that enabled him to quit his job and finish the film and then a $200,000 grant to pay for post-production. The finished picture, called Bad Taste, debuted at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, where it became a surprise hit and landed distribution deals in 12 countries.
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