By 3 News online staff / NZN
The first New Zealander to win an Oscar, producer Lloyd Phillips, has died in the United States.
The South Africa-born, Auckland-educated Phillips died from a heart attack at his home in Malibu, California. He was 63.
He won the Academy Award in 1980 for Best Live-Action Short Subject as producer for The Dollar Bottom - a tale about a pupil at a boarding school who sets up a scheme to ensure his schoolmates against being caned.
His other credits include Legend of Zorro, Racing Stripes, Twelve Monkeys, The Tourist, Inglourious Basterds and the Superman remake Man of Steel, due for release this year.
Weta Workshop boss Sir Richard Taylor says the death of his friend Phillips, who was regular swimmer, was a big surprise.
"It's come as an incredible shock to everyone," he told Radio New Zealand.
Phillips was behind Savage Islands in 1983 which started the filmmaking boom in New Zealand, Sir Richard said.
"That project is still recognised as having launched many young film technicians' careers here in New Zealand," he said.
Phillips had a bad fall a few months ago and suffered from diabetes, but Sir Richard says when he talked to him last week he was discussing a film project he wanted to bring to Wellington.
"He was up for any challenge, and it's his tenacity that all his friends will remember him by," Sir Richard told Firstline this morning.
"He had a great desire just to prove that he could do it, and the films that he worked on would be testament to the crews that worked with him. He wanted everything to be as good as it possibly could be. There were no half-measures."
Sir Richard says Phillips was regularly employing New Zealanders and Kiwi companies to work on his productions.
NZN / 3 News