Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super eight movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his movies, which he made with his friends. They were usually short, but they already had the trademark that would make Jackson famous: impressive special effects, caused at a low cost. For example, for his film “World War Two,” which he made as a teenager, he used to simulate a firing gun by punching little holes into the celluloid so that, once projected, the gun gave the impression of displaying a small fire.

Jackson’s first step towards more severe film-making came with an entry in a local contest to stimulate amateur and children’s films. For this film, he used stop-motion animation to create a monster that ruins a city in Ray Harryhausen’s style. Unfortunately, he didn’t win.

At twenty-two, he embarked on a movie-making adventure that would change his life. Bad Taste (1987) began as any other Jackson film, in an amateur style, at a low budget and using friends and local people to star in his movie. Jackson himself did nearly everything in the film; he directed, produced, filmed, and starred in it, in several roles, including the hero, “Derek.” And everything was filmed on a second-hand, $250 camera. It took Jackson and his friends four years to complete the movie. What had started as a joke in a group of friends then became a cult classic.

A friend of Jackson who was working in the movie industry convinced him the film had commercial prospects and arranged for it to be shown at the Cannes film festival, where it won a lot of acclaims and several prizes. The movie soon became a hit because of its bizarre humor and overdose of special effects, some realistic, some comedically amateur. After the success of Bad Taste (1987), Jackson became recognized as a director, and the door to fame and fortune was opened. He gave up his job at a local photographer’s shop and became a well-known director of horror-movies after his first professionally made movie, Braindead (1992).