Hobbits, hippos & heavenly creatures

Last updated 15:48 20/11/2012
Peter Jackson
TVNZ/TV On Screen
HUGE PASSION: Peter Jackson in TVNZ's documentary Sex, Drugs and Soft Toys - The Making of Meet the Feebles

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Ahead of the premiere of Peter Jackson's latest epic The Hobbit next week, NZ On Screen chronicle his journey from shy film nerd to one of the world's most accomplished directors.

The collection of documentaries, excerpts and trailers showcase the enthusiasm and creativity that made Jackson into the influential visionary and film-industry heavy-weight he is today.

Since his first venture into feature films with the sci-fi splatter comedy Bad Taste, his passion for special effects as well as gory scenes has been evident.

The documentary Good Taste Made Bad Taste, shot at Jackson's Wellington home and on location, shows behind the scenes stills, interviews with the cast, and excerpts from Bad Taste itself.

The collection unearths also highlights like the TVNZ documentary Sex, Drugs and Soft Toys - a look behind the scenes of Jackson's low-budget sophomore 1989 feature Meet the Feebles.

A youthful Jackson muses on his influences, processes and propensity for "savage humour". Included is also footage of his childhood films - war movies and stop motion animation made with his first 8mm camera. 

He reveals that he never intended to become a director, but wanted to be a special effect man for movies ever since playing with model kits in his back yard.

An excerpt from arts show The Edge looks at the special effects being crafted for Jackson's Heavenly Creatures. It gives an intriguing insight into the early days of Weta, the effects house that went on to bring Kiwi ingenuity to Hollywood with films like Lord of the Rings, Avatar and District 9.

Now employing hundreds of CGI artists, back in the days Weta Digital seemed to entirely consist of one guy and his three computers. "Computer effects is something that I never thought I'd be interested in until recently. It's becoming very clear now that this is what the future of film is gonna be. It's gonna be digital one way or another. Film will cease to exist eventually, I'm sure, and cameras will be recording straight onto CDs or some sort of digital medium," Jackson said in 1994.

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It also features a young, slightly nerdy looking Richard Taylor, crafting a sea creature, showing the skills that would eventually earn him his Oscar.

Unforgotten is also Jackson's 1995 mockumentary Forgotten Silver, that gave NZ telly its War of the Worlds moment.

The NZ On Screens collection is a true treasure trove to remind us why Jackson is so good at what he's doing.  

- Stuff

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