The Innovation Mindset in Action: Sir Peter Jackson who has transformed much more than the movie industry in New Zealand—he has also transformed filmmaking globally.

The Innovation Mindset in Action: Sir Peter Jackson

by Vijay Govindarajan and Srikanth Srinivas  |   1:00 PM July 22, 2013

Pater Jackson

Peter Jackson is a game changer who transformed the practice of filmmaking. Like Jerry Buss, who revolutionized basketball, Jackson and other effective innovators share a common set of qualities that we call the innovation mindset: they see and act on opportunities, use “and” thinking andresourcefulness, focus on outcomes, and act to “expand the pie.” Regardless of where they start, innovators persist till they successfully change the game. As an only child, Jackson was often left to entertain himself. His parents bought him an 8-mm movie camera when he was 8 years old. At 16, he left school to work as a full time photo-engraver, saving as much money as he could for film equipment. He began making short films with his friends. These were amateurish horror movies, but they won awards and had a cult following.Jackson saw a unique opportunity in making hit movies with special effects that would keep people mesmerized in their seats. He got his first break with the Lord of the Rings (LOR) trilogy.

Jackson used “and thinking.” He wanted the highest quality movies AND the lowest cost, so he made all three films in the LOR trilogy simultaneously. Hollywood’s regular practice is to shoot movies in a trilogy one at a time, minimizing financial risk in case the first one flops. Lessons learned from the first movie can then be applied to the next, and cash flows from early films can be used to fund subsequent ones. Jackson, however, thought that shooting the trilogy in one go would decrease costs and improve quality. If all three films were shot simultaneously, sets would need to be built only once, rather than built up and brought down three times. Shooting the trilogy simultaneously would avoid the costs of actors’ potential salary increases over time, especially if the first film proved a hit, and would also prevent characters from aging (or even dying) between one film and the next. New Line Cinema knew this was a gamble but had faith in Peter Jackson’s vision and capabilities, trusting that the series would appear seamless if the three films were shot at once.

Jackson managed what may have been risks in others’ eyes by being resourceful and focusing onoutcomes.

By being resourceful, Jackson managed to keep costs down to $280 million for all three movies. He insisted on shooting the movie and doing all the animation in New Zealand so he could manage both the quality and the cost, despite Hollywood pressure to use animation studios like Pixar. The result was Weta Workshop—a group of organizations, co-founded by Jackson, and dedicated to special effects for movie and television. Jackson also introduced innovative ways to increase LOR viewership. For example, he made a free video for Air New Zealand to make the “seat belt and related” announcements—using LOR characters. Many who saw it got curious and went to see the movies.

His outcomes and accomplishments were extraordinary: The LOR trilogy made for $280 milliongrossed $6 billion and won 17 Oscars. Weta has grown to be a well-known animation and special effects company with a special twist on horror, employing thousands of people. With Weta, Jackson achieved his vision of dramatically increasing the amount of work done digitally, without affecting quality. As a result, Weta can digitally create environments, characters, creatures, costumes, weapons, props, and vehicles with animation and real life 3D effects.

In honor of his significant accomplishments and contributions to his country, Jackson was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010.

Jackson expanded the pie and completely transformed the movie industry in New Zealand, so much so that Wellington has become Wellywood and filmmakers like James Cameron have purchased New Zealand property. Jackson also expanded the pie by extending LOR’s success to others’ projects. Ian Brodie, an extra in the films, wanted to write a book about the locations where LOR was shot. Jackson shared all the location details with Brodie and the resulting book, The Lord of the Rings Locations Guidebook, was a runaway bestseller. Jackson allowed Jens Hansen, the local jeweler who made the ring for the movie, to reproduce it. The book and the jewelry expand the audience for the movie, and vice versa.

Sir Peter Jackson is a game changer. He has transformed much more than the movie industry in New Zealand—he has also transformed filmmaking globally.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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