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If you like Peter Jackson's story, you might also like:
James Cameron,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Ron Howard,
George Lucas,
Kiri Te Kanawa
and Robert Zemeckis

Related Links:
The One Ring
The Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson Fan Club

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Sir Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Jackson
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Sir Peter Jackson Interview (page: 8 / 8)

Oscar for Best Director

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  Sir Peter Jackson

Sir Peter Jackson Interview Photo
You've mentioned your partnership with Fran Walsh. By the time of Heavenly Creatures, were you also a couple, or were you still just collaborators?

Sir Peter Jackson: We were a couple about the time of Heavenly Creatures, yeah. We were friends. We were very good friends through a couple of years while we wrote Feebles and Braindead, and then we got together around Heavenly Creatures time, which was really great. It was nice. I think Fran and I both absolutely valued the fact that we got two or three years of just getting to know each other as friends, as coworkers, co-script writers before anything got serious. So it was good. It's given our relationship a really stable, solid foundation.

How do you complement each other as writers and collaborators? Is it completely democratic? Do you take certain roles? Is she an editor? Are you an editor?

Sir Peter Jackson: It tends to vary, and there's no rules, and we don't actually think about it too much.

Often the best writing is really with Fran and I just sitting on the floor, lying on the floor with a note pad and pen, and we're just bouncing ideas back across between each other, and she's scribbling stuff down and I'm scribbling stuff down. We're trying out lines of dialogue. We're figuring out sort of the way a scene might flow, and we're just making notes, and then after that, I'd just get her notes and my notes, which are almost indecipherable, and go up and I'd sit down and I'd have a go at just typing the scene into the computer, so we could have a look at it actually in the cold light of day, have a look at it written out as a scene.

And then...

Fran is very good at revising. I usually just let her sit down with the pages. There's always a time where she sits down by herself with the written pages and starts revising and starts changing, because that's where a lot of the skill of script writing is. It's not in actually getting the script written, it's the revising afterwards. It's the endless, endless revisions, and Fran's strength is that. She's fantastic at picking the weaknesses out of a script and just revising it and revising it and revising it 'til we're happy with it.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

What's next for you and Fran Walsh?

Sir Peter Jackson: We're doing our own adaptation of The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold's book. We just bought the rights to the book ourselves. We're not attached to any studio, which is an unusual way of doing it, because normally, even for the fact that the book's rights cost quite a lot of money, you go to a studio and partner with them, and they get you the book. We wanted to avoid everything that comes with that, because at that point, they have an expectation of delivering a script, an expectation of a date the film is going to be. They even figure out the date they are going to release the film, and suddenly you are on the machine again.

We just had been on the grind for ten years basically, you know, the grinding film machine where you're laying the tracks in front of the train the whole time and the thing's coming down behind you. With Kong following the three Lord of the Rings films, it was ten years of that, and we literally wanted to wake up in the morning for a while and not have anybody expecting something from us, not having a script that people are waiting for and not having a -- you know, show up on the scoring stage, show up at Weta (workshop) to talk about a fix. We just wanted to have a period where our calendar wasn't packed with meetings and expectations for us to have to perform and do things. And so the only way we could avoid that is to just option the book ourselves with our own money, which we did, and so now nobody is telling us how quickly, how slow or fast we have to write the script, and we're really enjoying it.

It's making for a better script in actual fact, because we really feel we're writing this one for us. We don't know who the company is. We obviously will eventually make the film with a studio, but we don't even know who that studio is yet. So at the moment, it just feels like we're doing it for ourselves, which is a lovely feeling. It gives you a lot more freedom in writing the script too. We don't have to worry about the fact that, "Somebody is going to read this in three weeks! Oh my God!" You sort of don't get self conscious about it. The Lovely Bones is a story in which I think everybody who reads the book probably takes different things from it. I think what's important is that Fran and I get to write a script that very clearly and vividly describes the movie that we see being made, because I think that is important for this project that we are all on the same page.

I think the danger with The Lovely Bones would be writing a script with a studio attached, and you end up with a completely different film than the studio was imagining, and then suddenly they're saying, "Well, can't we change this and can't we change that?" We just really want to have the script in a state that's -- you know, not going to happen immediately, it will take several drafts -- but get the script in a state that we are comfortable, and we've arrived at the film that we want to make, and then go to different companies at that point with the script, and we'll simply go with the company that we think is supportive, and responds to the script that they read.

You've been very true to New Zealand for the filming of all your movies. You've also had a tremendous impact on New Zealand tourism. Everybody wants to go see where Lord of the Rings was shot, but you've really had an impact on the film businesses.

Sir Peter Jackson Interview Photo
Sir Peter Jackson: We've had an impact to a degree. Tourism in New Zealand has certainly exploded since The Lord of the Rings films came out. There is a little bit more activity in the local industry. That's the industry that I want to see helped, is the New Zealand filmmakers trying to get their films made. The government will put more money into filmmaking. They do seriously understand the benefits that a film can bring to a country now, and I think it maybe took Lord of the Rings to happen before they fully appreciated that. So they're working on supporting local filmmakers with a little bit more vigor than what has happened in the past. At the same time, Lord of the Rings is bringing down a lot of overseas productions. Narnia came down to shoot, and there is sort of an endless stream of films coming down to use New Zealand as a production base, because they realize we've got the scenery and we've got the technical expertise.

Well, thank you for the wonderful films that you've made already and that you will make in the future, and thanks for the interview.

Sir Peter Jackson: Thank you. Thanks very much. Very fun. All right. Cool.

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This page last revised on Nov 25, 2013 11:39 EST
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