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The Peter Jackson Collection

By NZ On Screen team
19th November 2012

 The Peter Jackson Collection

The Peter Jackson Collection

 NZ On Screen team

By NZ On Screen team


Backyard filmmaker

Peter Jackson has gone from shy fanboy to master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood. With six journeys into Middle-earth now behind him, he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking. Led by early 'behind the scenes' docos this collection pays tribute to PJ's journey, from re-making King Kong in his backyard to err ... re-making King Kong in his backyard. 


Hobbits, hippos and heavenly creatures

 Sex, Drugs and Soft Toys - The Making of Meet the Feebles

An old Wellington railway shed fizzes with energy and imagination in this doco exploring the making of Jackson’s sophomore feature. Included along with insightful revelations of how the strings were pulled on the Muppets parody, is footage from PJ’s earliest films, shot on an 8mm camera.

 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson's final visit to Middle-earth offers an epic finale, as dwarves, elves and humans must decide whether to unite to protect the treasures of the Lonely Mountain from Orc attack. 

 Good Taste Made Bad Taste

This doco showcases some of the ingenious tricks of the trade used by Jackson in the making of his first feature, aliens-amoke splatter classic Bad Taste — from building a DIY Steadicam, to filming a head-cleaving machete attack and beloved sheep-obliteration scene.

 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Monstrous spiders, dragon-aided epic battles, endangered hobbits and final farewells … the finale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy boldly upped the ante. Return sealed Jackson's place in movie legend, won a staggering 11 Oscars, and anointed a Hollywood empire in the Wellington suburb of Miramar.

 Heavenly Creatures

The film that saw splatter-king Jackson lauded by a whole new audience was born from partner Fran Walsh's fascination with a matricide in 50s Christchurch. Their kinetic vision of teen friendship and tragedy was greeted with art-house acclaim, Oscar nods and praise for newbies Lynskey and Winslet.

 The Edge - Season Two, Episode Seven (birth of Weta)

This mini-doco from arts series The Edge looks at the special effects being crafted for Heavenly Creatures. It’s an intriguing insight into the early days of the Weta empire, with George Port providing a tour of fledgling Weta Digital (a single room!). 

 Forgotten Silver

An epic documentary chronicling the extraordinary, unbelievable life of pioneer Kiwi filmmaker Colin McKenzie. Or is it? The notorious film that gave NZ telly its War of the Worlds moment begins (the first 10 minutes is excerpted here) with a surprise discovery at the end of the garden path.

 Behind the Bull

When Forgotten Silver screened on 29 October 1995 many believed the fable was fact, and the wool pulling sparked both ire and mirth. Here, Costa Botes, who originated the mockumentary, looks at the making of the McKenzie myth, and he and co-conspirator Jackson muse upon its priceless reception.

 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

This was the film that brought Jackson's talents to a mass global audience. A year after its release, the first installment of Tolkien's cherished tale of heroic hobbits was the seventh most successful film of all time, winning praise for its fan-appeasing, Frodo-centric take.

 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

After the box-office and Oscar-slaying success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, adapting the Middle-earth-set story of Bilbo Baggins was an expected journey. Peter Jackson — initially onboard as producer — is again at the helm for the first of a three-part adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s beloved tale.


Jackson had been tagged ‘The Sultan of Splatter’ by fans of his first two pictures, but gore found new form in this deliriously liquid romp. As he takes a Flymo to 50s Wellington, puts the zombie into NZ, and romance into zombie flicks, one can see why Heavenly Creatures was an unlikely next step!

 Barefoot Cinema

Peter Jackson called Alun Bollinger, “the finest lighting cameraman the country has ever produced.” In this excerpt he and ‘AlBol’ discuss their relationship and collaborations on Heavenly Creatures, Forgotten Silver (“just about the most fun we’ve ever had shooting anything”) and The Frighteners.

 Bad Taste

A cast of public service Alien Investigation and Detection Service (AIDS) operatives strive to rid the planet of an alien fast-food gang, who want to turn earthlings into hamburgers. After over a dozen or so early efforts, this ‘splatstick’ classic broke Jackson from Pukerua Bay to the big screen.

 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The second LoTR edition bagged more box office records as Frodo continued his mission to destroy the ring. Meanwhile the Fellowship is breaking apart, and an epic battle ensues at Helm's Deep. The film marked a star turn by Gollum, the Andy Serkis-voiced creature whose realisation is an FX landmark.

 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Spiders and high speed water rides feature in the amped-up second episode of The Hobbit trilogy —not to mention an unforgettable encounter between Bilbo Baggins and Smaug the dragon, as voiced by Brit Benedict Cumberbatch.  

 King Kong

Jackson's love affair with moviemaking and special effects was ignited by seeing the iconic original Kong as a child. His Kiwi-shot remake toughens up the “beauty” (Naomi Watts) and Oscar-winning CGI brings the great ape to life, alongside rampaging giant weta inexplicably absent from earlier Kongs.

 The Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold bestseller The Lovely Bones explored the effects of a murder, from the perspective of the victim: 14-year-old Susie Salmon. In this adaptation Jackson and his FX team do more Heavenly world-making, and conjure Susie's eye-popping afterlife.

 Meet the Feebles

Jackson's Muppets parody — his second feature — is an irreverent, outlandish, part-musical satire on showbiz. The cast includes Bletch the pornographer walrus, an obese hippo femme fatale, a heroin-addicted frog, and a poo-eating tabloid journo fly — in other words, something to offend everyone.

 The Frighteners

Frank Bannister (Michael J Fox) runs a supernatural scam in small town USA. When a genuine spook starts knocking off locals, the FBI suspects Frank, and he must bust the ghosts to clear his name. The comedy-supernatural horror blend was an effective Hollywood calling card for Jackson and Weta FX.


After hearing that Peter Jackson is filming Lord of the Rings, a bogan trio sets off from West Auckland for Wellywood, hoping to score acting roles as hobbits. Grant Lahood’s short film features a memorable cameo by Madeleine Sami, plus a blink-and-you-ll miss it appearance by Mr Jackson himself.

 Valley of the Stereos

This comic vale-blasting battle between a hippy and a bogan was made by Jackson’s WingNut Films (he also has a story credit) and features key early collaborators, such as producer Jim Booth. George Port directed the pump up the volume tale just before he became founding member of Weta Digital.

 Dirty Creature

Bad Taste veteran Grant Campbell directs this snappy tale of a girl, her dog and a strange old man. After tomboy Daphne gleefully ruins a wedding, her imagination unleashes monstrous forces (realised by an early edition of Weta FX, led by Richard Taylor). Creature was made by WingNut Films.

 Jack Brown Genius

Tony Hiles’ story of a possessed Kiwi inventor obsessed with human-powered flight was being produced by Jackson’s talisman producer Jim Booth. When Booth died during pre-production, Jackson came onboard the project as executive producer; he also has story and second unit director credits.

Peter Jackson of Pukerua Bay

Peter Jackson of Pukerua Bay

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NZ On Screen PJ Profile

NZ On Screen PJ Profile

Costa Botes profiles his co-conspirator on Forgotten Silver: “the sort of guy that wanted the whole electric train set.” Read more ›