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PGA to Honor Peter Jackson

The PGA announces that Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri and Weta Digital will receive the Producers Guild’s 2014 Vanguard Award to be presented January 19 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

 The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced that acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson, visual effects artist Joe Letteri and Weta Digital will receive the Producers Guild’s 2014 Vanguard Award. The award will be presented to Jackson, Letteri and Weta Digital at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, January 19th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. 

Jackson and Letteri‘s Academy Award-winning visual effects powerhouse Weta Digital is a world leader in all areas of digital visual effects production, having created some of the most astounding effects ever seen onscreen.  Their motion picture credits include such hits as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, Avatar and King Kong, among many others.

The Producers Guild’s Vanguard Award recognizes achievements in new media and technology. Previous recipients include James Cameron, Stan Lee, George Lucas, John Lasseter, YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, and game designer Will Wright, as well as RealD’s Michael V. Lewis and Joshua Greer.

“We are truly honoured to receive the Vanguard Award and to be recognized by the Producers Guild,” said Jackson and Letteri. Jackson continued, “Visual effects are a great tool to inspire the audience’s imagination and encourage them to take that extra step into the story.” Letteri adds, “It’s great to see the Producers Guild embrace visual effects as a core part of the modern filmmaking process.”

“Peter Jackson and Joe Letteri have created some of the most epic visionary fantasies in the history of filmmaking,” said PGA Awards Co-Chairs Lori McCreary (Invictus, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman) and Michael De Luca (Captain Phillips, Moneyball, The Social Network). “Through the development of groundbreaking technology and software, Weta Digital has redefined the possibilities for producers to create living, breathing worlds to house even their most fantastic stories. We are proud to present Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri and Weta Digital with the 2014 Vanguard Award for their continued determination to break new imaginative ground for our industry.”

Peter Jackson began making movies at an early age with his parent's Super 8 movie camera.  After leaving school at 17 he purchased a 16mm camera and began shooting a science fiction comedy short which, three years later, grew into a 75-minute feature called Bad Taste.  Other early film credits include, Meet thee FeeblesBraindead, Forgotten Silver and The Frighteners.  Jackson received widespread acclaim for his 1994 feature Heavenly Creatures, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay.    

Jackson then made history with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, becoming the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously.  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King were nominated for and collected a slew of awards from around the globe, including 17 Academy Awards.   As a follow-up to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Jackson directed, wrote and produced King Kong, which went on to win three Oscars.  He produced the worldwide sci-fi hit District 9, and served as producer on Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. 

Two years ago Jackson returned to Middle-earth to direct, co-write and produce another Tolkien-inspired trilogy.  2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the upcoming The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug, opening on Dec. 13, and next year’s The Hobbit:  There and Back Again.

Joe Letteri's pioneering work on digital visual effects has earned him four Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects on Avatar, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and King Kong. He has also received the Academy’s Technical Achievement Award for co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that brought Gollum to life.   Letteri joined Weta Digital as Visual Effects Supervisor on The Two Towers and over the last eleven years he has led Weta Digital to become one of the world’s premiere visual effects studios.  He specializes in the creation of compellingly realistic creatures, from the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the 25ft gorilla in King Kong, the Na'vi in Avatar, and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. As Senior Visual Effects Supervisor on Avatar, he oversaw a program of research and development over four years that produced shots larger and more complex than ever attempted before.   Joe led the Weta Digital team back into Middle-earth to bring to life the first film of Peter Jackson’s much anticipated trilogy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He is currently working on the second film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, as well as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Weta Digital is one of the world’s premier visual effects companies. Led by Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, Weta Digital is known for uncompromising creativity and commitment to developing innovative technology.  From groundbreaking performance-driven digital characters like Gollum, Kong and Caesar, to the revolutionary virtual production workflows of Avatar and The Adventures of Tintin, they continue to break down barriers between live action and CG and expand what is possible in film.  Over the last decade, Weta Digital has delivered Visual Effects on films such as The Avengers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Iron Man 3, Man of Steel as well as The Hobbit trilogy.  Weta Digital established its reputation for cutting edge visual effects with work on blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. The company began work in 1993 on co-founder Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures and is based in Wellington, New Zealand.

From filmmaker Peter Jackson, the Academy Award-winning director of The Lord of the Rings, comes The Hobbit Trilogy, productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM).  The screenplays for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the first two films in the Trilogy, are by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro based on the timeless classic by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Jackson is also producing the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh.  The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers. 

All three films in the trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production.  Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is set for release on December 13, 2013, followed by the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, slated for December 17, 2014.    

Source: Producers Guild of America

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.