Peter Jackson: 2003 Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film

Mark Smith, Louisiana Governor's Office of Film and Television; Lisa Strout, New Mexico Film Office; Pat Swinney Kaufman, New York State Governor's office for Motion Picture and Television Development; and DGA director-member Christopher Coppola.

February 1, 2004

When DGA President Michael Apted announced on January 6, 2004, that director Peter Jackson had been nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, DGA Awards history was made. Jackson's epic adaptation of each book of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy The Lord of the Rings had been nominated for the prestigious DGA Award. Jackson was not the first to be nominated for each chapter of a trilogy, that landmark goes to Francis Ford Coppola for the Godfather saga, but Jackson was the first to receive a DGA Award nomination in the Feature Film category for three consecutive years since Alfred Hitchcock received nominations for Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960).

His winning the DGA Award on February 7, 2004, was the direct result of his seven-year quest that included a 15-month shoot, to bring his vision of the Tolkien classic to the screen.

"I make films that I mean to see myself," Jackson said in the January 2002 issue of DGA Magazine. "The artistic vision in my head is the version of The Lord of the Rings that I want to see — no other. I am striving to please myself. I don't second-guess myself. I have a fairly common style dictated by where to put the camera and to stage the scene, issues that feed into every decision I make. My hope is that others will judge my decisions as appropriate ones."

With the consecutive nominations and ultimate win, others did confirm the appropriateness of his decisions. Upon accepting the DGA Award, Jackson said, "To have other directors who wish to award you in this way is amazing. I think one of the real celebrations tonight is just how amazing the nominated films and directors were. The diversity of the films in the different genres and budgets, I think that's one of the great things about cinema in that there is always something for everybody who goes to the movies."

Jackson was also quick to praise his entire DGA team and the many other collaborators who assisted him on his directorial journey. "What really matters is that it's not just about me, tonight. It's about everybody who helped me," he said, turning to point to some of members of his team who stood near him onstage in the pressroom. "These films are so huge. The Return of the King was enormous even by itself and you have a group of about 2,000 people behind you. The director is there to shepherd and be the sort of traffic cop, in a way, of all the ideas, input and support that comes in. The director is the person whose name gets written about the most, but for me, being in that position, I think of the whole experience as being this incredible experience in that I could not have gone anywhere by myself, or done anything by myself."

Admitting to the mixed emotions of relief and sadness over the conclusion of his journey, Jackson said, "Some part of us, I think, could keep making these films forevermore because we had such a great time doing it. But, it is time to close that book, The Lord of the Rings, and to move on to whatever is in the future in our lives."