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GRANT MAJOR

"There's a certain thrill in making big sets and doing these big production-design set-ups. It's great because we have huge teams of people working with us and under us. It's a thrilling way to make a living. On the big films you have a lot more technical toys to play with. The vis effects work and special effects work are amped up so it's a greater roller-coaster ride."

GRANT MAJOR

Academy and Emmy Award winning production designer Grant Major was born in Palmerston North. After earning a degree in graphic design from Auckland Technical Institute (now AUT), he began a career as a television set designer. His first assignment was on Stewart Island, designing and building sets for Castaways of the General Grant. After three and a half years with TVNZ, he took a role in set design for the BBC in London and Belfast. Four years later (1984), Grant returned to New Zealand, worked on the television series Hanlon and re-designed TV One's primetime news set. His television work also includes The Grasscutter, The Chosen, the Hercules tele-movies, and Nightline.


Grant’s film work began as art director for Other Halves (1984) followed in 1989 with the role of production designer on the An Angel at My Table and, in 1992, on Jack Be Nimble. In 1993, he was approached by Peter Jackson to work on Heavenly Creatures and, in 1995 on The Frighteners. When Jackson began work on the the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, Grant was contracted as production designer. Grant was nominated for Academy Awards for his work on the first two films of trilogy, and, in 2004, received an Academy Award (and numerous other international accolades) for his work on Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King. Grant continued his collaborations with Peter Jackson on the 2005 production King Kong.


Working with Niki Caro, Grant was production designer for Memory and Desire, Whale Rider and The Vintner's Luck. He was also the production designer on the critically acclaimed Mr Pip, based on the novel by Lloyd Jones.
 


Undergrowth by Grant Major.


In 2009, he wrote, directed and edited his first film, Undergrowth.

 

Grant’s high-profile work extends beyond television and film. He worked on the New Zealand pavilion for the World Expo in Sevilla, Spain in 1990. The pavilion was awarded Best Concept and Implementation from Lighting and Sound International, a European design magazine. He also worked on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1990 Commonwealth Games. His work on a Coca-Cola television ad for a Superbowl timeslot won him an Emmy award for Outstanding Commercial’ in 2009 and his advertising work for Guinness resulted in a Film Craft Production Design Silver Lion award from the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival in 2010.

 

Along with the previously mentioned awards, in 2001 Grant was named Production Designer of the Year by the American Film Institute (AFI) for his work on LOTR, Fellowship of the Ring. In 2002, he was nominated for Best Art Direction by the Art Directors Guild of America, 2002 and Awarded Best Art Direction for LOTR in 2003 and 2004. In 2002, 2003 and 2004, he was nominated Best Art Direction for LOTR from BAFTA society. In 2005, Grant In 2005 Grant was bestowed the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the New Zealand Film industry.
 

"Palmerston North is part of my DNA, both sides of my family are from here."

 

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