Plucked from relative obscurity by Mary Parent, then-production chief of Universal Pictures, Blomkamp, who was working in visual effects and directing commercials and shorts, landed a plum gig for what would have been his directorial debut: the big-budget adaptation of the shoot-'em-up video game Halo to be produced by Jackson.
But when that project imploded in 2006, Jackson decided to “godfather” Blomkamp through the process of directing a film anyway. Jackson’s wife and frequent collaborator, Fran Walsh, suggested that Blomkamp adapt one of his short films, “Alive in Joburg,” into a feature and Jackson helped him shape the script while his production company put together the independent financing. The result: the $30-million “District 9,” in theaters this August, about aliens who land on Earth; they are segregated into an alien ghetto and forced to work for humans who revile them as refugees.
“ ‘District 9' had an organic birth,” Blomkamp said by phone from New Zealand, where he’s finishing post-production on the film. “We took a collapsing behemoth and flipped it into something else. I ended up in a much better situation, working on something that’s very much me. It’s also backed by Pete, which is incredible and puts more of a spotlight on it.”
Jackson said he felt gratified to have enabled Blomkamp’s potent and provocative filmmaking vision. “Neill has made something that’s completely original,” he said. “At this moment in filmmaking, everything is a sequel or a remake or some re-imagining of a ‘70s TV show. I’m really proud of this movie. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.”
He added: “It’ll be interesting to see what happens when it comes out. I imagine his phone will start ringing very quickly.”
-- Chris Lee