Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the New Zealand director of films like splatter classics BRAINDEAD (aka Dead/Alive in the US) and BAD TASTE, the drama/thriller HEAVENLY CREATURES (starring Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey) and the horror / comedy THE FRIGHTENERS (starring Michael J.Fox) and the upcoming LORD OF THE RINGS.
Peter Jackson was born in New Zealand on Halloween 1961. He was raised in Pukerua Bay, a little town west of Wellington by his parents Bill and Joan Jackson. Being the only child, Peter was forced to come up with games, ideas and things to keep himself occupied. On Christmas 1969, Peter's parents got an 8mm camera and his life was forever changed. It didn't take long for Peter to get his hands on the camera. A director is born!!!

In 1973, along with several of his friends, Peter began to make movies. They dug holes in the garden and made a film on the Second World War. It was at this time that Peter began to develop his knack for special effects. His first effect was stimulating gunfire by punching holes in the celluliod. It was this early training that would later pay off for Peter when it came time to make his first feature film.

Peter continiued making short films with his friends and after getting a job at The Evening Post, he was finally able to afford the purchase of a Bolex 16mm film camera. It was very easy to handle and the necessary equipment if he was really serious about making feature films. In 1983, Peter immediately started filming. That same year, he started on a 10 minute short film called “Roast Of The Day”. But just as when he was young, Peter had a million ideas and before he knew it, his 10 minute short was quickly becoming a full length feature film.

Peter Jackson collected a bunch of friends to help him make the movie (and they would all eventually star in it) on weekends and holidays. No one was paid for their work and the entire budget came from Peter’s salary from his job at The Evening Post. As Peter was busily filming on weekends, he was also applying to the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) for money to help with post-production on the film. Peter was to garnered the support of Jim Booth, Chairman of the NZFC, even thought the other board members weren’t too impressed with what they saw. Jim used a digressionary fund to help bankroll the completion of the film.

Four years, after Peter began making the movie, the alien / splatter / comedy BAD TASTE was done and ready to be shown. The New Zealand Film Commission brought the film to Cannes where the critics loved it. BAD TASTE was than sold to 30 countries and Peter Jackson was suddenly ‘a know commodity’. The film quickly returned it’s costs within a few days of being shown at Cannes. After their success, Jim Booth left the NZFC to joined Peter as a partner in WingNut Films.

During the making of BAD TASTE, Peter met Frances Walsh and Stephen Sinclair, with whom he started writing a script about zombies. Peter had always wanted to make a zombie film, but the only thing getting in his way was financing. They were able to get some Japanese and Spanish investors, plus a little from the NZFC, but they figured the budget they had wasn?t going to be enough to make the film. Knowing more commerical success would someday bring the budget he needed for his “zombie movie”, Peter decided to take the money and write another script with his friend, Danny Mulheron. In 1989, the film was called MEET THE FEEBLES and is probably best described as “Muppet show on Acid”. Successful showings at several festivals got Peter the budget he need to make his “zombie movie”, so the three began re-writing the script.

In 1991, they started making Peter’s ‘breakthrough picture’, the ultimate splatter/zombie/comedy BRAINDEAD. It got a worldwide release and received much critical acclaim. Here in the USA it was released on video, but retitled DEAD/ALIVE because the Vidmark had another film called BRAINDEAD and they didn’t want people to get the two films mixed up. Due to DEAD/ALIVE success, both BAD TASTE and MEET THE FEEBLES were re-released so fans all over the world could enjoy these films.
It was at this time that Peter was asked by New Line Cimena to write a script for the 6th film in the Nightmare On Elm Street series. Peter wrote a script and when he was finally satisified with it, he sent it over to New Line. But it was too late, they already had a script for Freddy’s Dead. Peter was highly disappointed due to the amount of time he put into the script.

In 1994, again teamming with Fran Walsh, Peter did a complete U-Turn in the subject matter of his film. He went from making some of the goriest films ever to grace the silver screen to making an ultra-cool thriller called HEAVENLY CREATURES. It’s deals with a true story of New Zealand teenagers Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, whose obsessive relationship drove them to murder. The film instantly brought Peter critical acclaim in the mainstream market and garnished him an Oscar nomination for “Best Screenplay” (losing out to Pulp Fiction).

In 1995, NZTV showed a documentary called FORGOTTEN SILVER , about New Zealand filmmaker Colin McKenzie. The documentary was made by Peter Jackson and told the story about a man who was always one step ahead of everyone, but was always behind the eight ball. Colin filmed a man flying an airplane nine months before the Wright brothers. He invented both colorfilm and sound for motion pictures, well before it ever hit Hollywood. It was explained that McKenzie’s bad luck had kept him out of the limelight. After it was shown, people started wondering, why hadn’t they heard of Colin McKenzie until now? The answer is - because he never existed. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Costa Botes had managed to fool half of the New Zealand population! Just another example of Peter’s sick sense of humor.

Later that year, Bob Zemeckis contacted Peter and asked him to write a draft for a Tales From The Crypt movie. Peter and Fran wrote a draft in a couple of weeks and sent it over. Bob like the script so much that he didn’t want to limited it to a low budget Tales from the Crypt film, but wanted to make it into a big budget full length feature film, THE FRIGHTENERS. Although not the commerical success that everyone expected the films is still great.

After THE FRIGHTENERS, Peter Jackson was asked to write a script for the remake of KING KONG (the original is one of Peter’s all-time favorite films). So he did and when he was asked to direct he couldnt resist. The film was going to be a remake of the 1933 original. But the fact that Godzilla was already in production along with remakes of both Mighty Joe Young and The 50Ft Woman, KING KONG was never giving the “green-light”. The script is done so many it may be a possible someday. Also around this time, Peter was approached about writing and directing FREDDY VS. JASON, but turned it down because he was working on KING KONG. Too bad!!!!

In 1998, rumors began to fly that Peter would be doing a live action adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” Peter even admitted he was a big fan of the book, but wouldn’t say if in fact the rumors were true. In the beginning of June 1998, reports out of New Zealand said that Peter Jackson was casting for an upcoming adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. In late August, the news finally came. New Line Cinema put out a Press Release naming Peter Jackson as the directed of a triliogy of films based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. They have commited over $130 millions in budget to make all three films