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Biography of Peter Jackson Term Paper



Peter Robert Jackson is one of the most famous, successful, and highly influential people in the global film industry. He works as a film producer, director, and screenwriter, who came to global recognition through his films The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (Sibley, 2013). Peter Jackson was born in 1961, in a small town in New Zealand called Pukerua Bay.

He does not have any siblings and has English roots. His mother Joan and his father Bill Jackson migrated to New Zealand from England. His mother was a homemaker and a factory worker, while his father worked as a wages clerk, and participated in World War II (Thompson, 2006). Jackson has been married to Fran Walsh since 1987, and the couple has two children.

Fran Walsh has been influential in the successful career of her husband, as she has always helped to write scripts and provide managerial support. Peter Jackson owns a film production company called Wingnut Films (Prigge, 2005). Various factors have influenced and inspired Jackson on his journey towards becoming a global icon in the film industry.

Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards and nominations for his success and influence towards the growth of the industry. Peter Jackson has proved to be a real trendsetter in the film industry, and a consistent performer who seeks to inspire others and meet market demands (Sibley, 2013).

How he started his career

Peter Jackson started his career as a young boy when his family was living near Wellington, a coastal town in New Zealand. He first encountered the world of movies at a tender age of five, when his family purchased a television set (Jackson, 2005). He was highly thrilled by a program that aired from 1965 to 1966, known as the Thunderbirds.

This show helped Jackson to develop a sentimental attachment to films. He later watched a movie called King Kong that Jackson says is his favorite movie that influenced his career in many ways (Stratford, 2009).

A major event in his career happened at age nine, when a close friend of his parents handed him a super 8-movie camera as a motivation for his visible passion for film and photography. Using this camera, Jackson began making short, simple, and cheap films from the comfort of his parent’s home. His friends contributed by taking different set roles on a voluntary basis (Thompson, 2006).

After gaining some experience, Jackson believed he was ready to make real films. He carried on with his production trademark used in the short films of incorporating unique effects, and low production costs. The most notable film he made during his teenage years was World War II.

The film was good and the effects used to simulate a firing gun were highly notable to viewers (Prigge, 2005). Jackson produced a number of other amateur movies such as The Valley, Bad Taste, The Dwarf Patrol, and Cold Finger among others. Jackson created The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, after reading the work of renowned author J.R.R. Tolkien (Morton, 2005).

The movie Bad Taste, started as a usual amateur movie for Jackson. However, he did not know that it would present a good opportunity for a breakthrough in the industry. Peter Jackson did almost everything in this movie using his savings from a job he had in a photography shop, and a sizeable grant from the film commission of New Zealand (Morton, 2005).

Through a friend, the film premiered during the Cannes film festival. The movie received many positive remarks and an award for its unique effects, a good script, its comic nature, and top class production (Sibley, 2013). This fame and recognition motivated Jackson to produce his first professional movie in 1992 that he called Brain Dead. Since then, Peter Jackson continued to develop his passion for films.

Education and training

Peter Jackson went to Kapiti College, which was run by the government (Prigge, 2005). His school life was dull and boring, because he did not show any interest in sporting events. Jackson was very eager to finish school and get a job that would enable him to make money for film production. At age sixteen, Jackson dropped out of school and got a job at a photography shop (Jackson, 2005).

Despite his huge success as a film producer, director, and screenwriter, Jackson did not have any formal or professional training in film production. He learnt about special effects and movie editing through trial and error in his amateur films (Morton, 2005). This demonstrates his real passion for films and intellectual ability for developing a successful career by learning through practice.

Professional career

The biggest breakthrough for Jackson in the film industry came in 1987, when he produced a short film called Bad Taste. The movie became a hit in the industry and managed to sell distribution rights to at least twelve countries. One individual that contributed to this breakthrough was Jim Booth (Sibley, 2010). Booth was the executive director of the New Zealand Film Commission at the time.

Peter Jackson needed a lot of money to complete the movie, and decided to approach the film commission for a grant. Jackson managed to convince Jim Booth to give him a grant to complete the movie with his talent and ambition for the film industry (Butler, 2013). Later, Jim Booth quit his position at the New Zealand film commission and became part of the production team for the movie.

Through his vast experience and numerous connections in the industry, Jim convinced Jackson to have his short film showcased at the Cannes Film Festival. The efforts paid off, and Jackson had a landmark start on his professional career from the festival (Thompson, 2006).

A number of films followed this successful entry into the industry for Jackson. These films include the Brain Dead, Heavenly Creatures, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King among others (Butler, 2013). Jackson produced The Lord of the Rings as a test project for his skills as a director.

Heavenly Creatures was among the most successful films that Jackson released at the time. The film applied a different style from his earlier movies, as it developed its story line based on real life experiences. The success of this film opened more avenues for Jackson in Hollywood.

In 1996, he managed to produce a high budget film called The Frighteners that starred Michael Fox (Stratford, 2009). Jackson received a lot of support and mentorship from an American producer called Robert.

Throughout his career in the film industry, Peter Jackson has been known for his strict work policy that entails attention to the finest details (Sibley, 2010). The most notable features about movies produced by Jackson include incorporation of humor, playful scenes, and shooting a single scene from a variety of angles.

This has made his movies to have some of the longest production periods in Hollywood, as he can take several days shooting a single scene to make sure that it meets the required standards (Butler, 2013). Although most of Jackson’s film’s premier in Hollywood, he is among the few influential and successful directors who produce their films outside the United States.

Jackson has been a huge technology enthusiast and ardent defender, whenever people feel it has a negative influence on the industry (Woods, 2004). Jackson was among the first film directors and producers to incorporate computer technology in making movies, especially in putting digital effects. Technology has helped to improve the value of films and movies because of improved efficiency and quality.

Modern films apply 3D technology, which gives viewers a better viewing experience compared to the technology used in the past (Woods, 2004). However, the adoption of modern technology has not been easy, especially among the older generation that constantly complains of the high speed and definition of the movies.

Producers like Peter Jackson have tried to defend the influence of technology in the film industry, by arguing that people complaining have a fear factor for change (Thompson, 2006). Jackson argues that there is no need to stick to old technology. He says there is a need to improve the experiences that people have in cinemas and make them more impressive and extravagant.

Awards and achievements

Peter Jackson has a very successful career in the film industry. He has received numerous awards and nominations. He is one of the most decorated film directors, producers, and screenwriters in the Hollywood (Savorelli, 2010). Jackson has so far received a total of 39-academy award nominations throughout his career that begun in 1987.

Out of the 39 nominations he has won 20 0f them, with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Winning the most with 11. Peter Jackson has also received 13 golden globe nominations, which he has won 4 times (Savorelli, 2010).

Jackson’s success in the film industry goes beyond the United States of America. Peter Jackson has received 43 nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award. Out of the nominations, Jackson has won 14 times, with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has won the most awards with each having 5 (Savorelli, 2010).


The story of Peter Jackson is very inspiring and motivating, especially to upcoming movie directors, producers, and screenwriters who want to make a breakthrough in the industry. The biggest lesson that one can learn from Jackson’s story is the need for perseverance, passion, and self-belief in order to succeed in the industry.

Jackson believed in his abilities and followed his passion that enabled him to achieve astounding success in the films industry. Another important lesson is the need to give people value for their money by producing quality films that entertain and educate them at the same time. Success in the film business requires one to have good knowledge of the market, and use the latest technology in order to give viewers amazing experiences.


Butler, J. (2013). Peter Jackson: A Combination of Passion, Determination, and Ingenuity. New York: Routledge.

Jackson, P. (2005). Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Morton, R. (2005). King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. California: Hal Leonard Corporation.

Prigge, S. (2005). Created By: Inside the Minds of Top Film Creators. New York: Silman-James Press.

Savorelli, A. (2010). Beyond Sitcom: New Directions in the American Film and Entertainment Industries. Chicago: McFarland.

Stratford, S. (2009). Film and Television. New Jersey: Info Base Publishing.

Sibley, B. (2013). Peter Jackson: the Journey of a Film Maker Who Went Against all Odds. New Jersey: Cengage Learning.

Sibley, B. (2010). Peter Jackson: A Film Maker’s Journey. New York: CENGAGE.

Thompson, K. (2006). “Tolkien On Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.” Tolkien Studies, 3(2), 222-228.

Woods, P. (2004). Peter Jackson: From Gore to Mordor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Biography of Peter Jackson'. 25 September.

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