New Zealand film-maker: Peter Jackson

Sir Peter Jackson is one of New Zealand's best-known film-makers – he was knighted for his significant contribution to the Kiwi film industry in 2010.

Jackson grew up in Pukerua Bay, a coastal town near Wellington - and developed a love of films as a child. He has cited King Kong as one of his all-time favourite films, and fulfilled a life-long dream when he was signed on to remake the 1933 classic in 2005.

Film-making was a passion for Jackson from childhood when he made short films with friends - he even attempted to remake King Kong using stop-motion models at the age of nine.

Jackson specialised in ‘splatstick’ horror comedies early in his career.

While Jackson had no formal training in film-making or special effects, his early grounding would ensure Jackson’s later success - winning three Academy Awards for The Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King, the final movie in the world-famous The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Splatstick to Middle-Earth

When Jackson left school, he began working for Wellington newspaper The Evening Post as a photo engraver.

His first film Bad Taste was a low-budget horror-comedy that was filmed in suburban Wellington. The film starred friends and family, and Jackson met his future wife Fran Walsh during production.

Jackson would go on to write his first feature-length drama, Heavenly Creatures with Walsh. Based on the true story of a murder committed by two schoolgirls in Christchurch, Heavenly Creatures won the Silver Lion at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, and was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay.

Jackson’s Hollywood star rose with the making of the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which was filmed on location in New Zealand. He received an Oscar for best director for Return of the King.

In 2005, Jackson fulfilled a childhood dream when he directed the remake of King Kong, some of which was also filmed in New Zealand.

He also directed an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which like Heavenly Creatures brought together fantasy and reality.

In 2011 Peter Jackson used his skills to co-produce The Adventures of Tin Tin, with Steven Spielberg. Spielberg directed the feature and post production was completed in Wellington at Park Road Post.

Jackson's returned to Middle-earth with The Hobbit Trilogy. The three films based on J.R.R Tolkien's prequel to The Lord of The Rings Trilogy was once again produced and shot on location in New Zealand.

Weta Workshop and Avatar

Away from directing, Jackson is a major player in the world-famous Kiwi special effects company Weta Workshop, which is based in Wellington.

He was one of the founders of the company’s digital division - Weta Digital, which won an Oscar in 2010 for work on Avatar, becoming the world’s biggest-selling movie.

Jackson helped propel Weta Workshop to fame through the sets, costumes, armour, weapons and creatures produced for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Weta Digital, formed in 1993, was founded by Jackson to produce special effects for Heavenly Creatures. The company’s team of elite special effects artists has won Academy Awards for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong and Avatar.

His film-making empire also includes production company Wingnut Films, Park Road Post and Stone Street Studios. One of Jackson's other loves is aviation and his passion for this is shown to full-effect at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre - a world-class museum dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of rare historic aircraft. The planes and artefacts on display in the 'Knights of the Sky' exhibtion at the Centre belong  Peter Jackson.