Writer/director Gregory King quickly made a name as a distinctive voice in the period before digital filmmaking become the dominant way to make movies. His first feature was dysfunctional family story Christmas (2003), followed by A Song of Good (2008).
Originally trained as an actor — something he recommends all directors try — King began directing in the late 1990s. His debut short film Pop won an Outstanding Achievement in Video Production Award at the Melbourne Film Festival. ...Teach You a Lesson was selected for the Melbourne and New Zealand festivals.
King's third short Junk was named Best Short Film at the 2001 NZ Film and TV Awards, and was a runner-up in a combined Australasian Short Film contest. The following year he was named SPADA NZ Filmmaker of 2002.
King made his feature film debut with Christmas, which was invited to festivals in Toronto, Edinburgh, Melbourne and New Zealand. Set in a crowded Whangarei bungalow in the days leading up to Christmas, the film revolves around four troubled adult siblings, their parents, an alcoholic boyfriend and two children.
Filming in the house where he grew up, King’s intention was to look at a group of people without judging or “assuming the arrogant stance” of understanding their behaviour. The low-budget feature went on to win four NZ film awards for digital films — including Best Feature and Screenplay, and Best Acting (for Darien Takle). The film was shot on digital video because "it simply meant that we were able to make a feature-length drama on the small budget we had".
King has also appeared before the camera. He features as drug-addicted friend of the main character in Colin Hodson’s 2006 digital feature .ON. The film was originally released in 2002, in a longer cut, as .OFF.
In 2004 King won selection to the Binger Filmlab, a film development school based in Amsterdam. King was especially appreciative of the lab’s “rewarding” writing programme. There King’s next project — which he described as being about "redemption, alienation, power" — won the enthusiasm of editor Molly Stensgaard, a colleague of Danish director Lars von Trier.
Plans to make A Song of Good as a co-production with Von Trier’s Zentropa entertainment were later abandoned after funding difficulties. Ultimately the film was produced through the NZ Film Commission’s Headstrong digital film scheme. The top drawer cast includes Danielle Cormack and Matt Sunderland (Out of the Blue). The drama chronicles the struggle of a young man (Gareth Reeves) to redeem himself after committing a horrific crime. His overbearing father (Ian Mune) proves little help.
Mune and Reeves were both nominated for NZ Film and TV acting awards. The movie took away gongs in a new category devoted to films that cost under $1 million: Best Film, and another for the work of cinematographer Ginny Loane. Among invitations to international film festivals, A Song of Good made its sell-out debut at the prestigious Rotterdam Film Festival.
In February 2009 A Song of Good was distributed using a pioneering method: the movie was made available to watch via an official website, for 24 hours. The film’s NZ DVD distributor Vendetta then cancelled the film's planned DVD release, claiming they hadn’t been told of the plan to stream it free online. Happily, publicity drummed up by the online release led to a surge of orders from video chains.
King has also written for others. Short film Brave Donkey (2009), written for Kiwi director Gaysorn Thavat, won invitation to a number of festivals (including South by Southwest and Locarno). King was also part of the writing team on Thavat's first feature, The Justice of Bunny King (2021). In 2011 he was nominated for an Aotearoa Film Award for co-writing short film Bird, alongside co-directors Jane Shearer and Steve Ayson.
King's short UFO won the Special Jury Prize at Kiwi festival Show Me Shorts in 2015. The following year it was named Best Short Drama at Canada's imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. Show Me Short judges described this tale of an alien trying to escape its human family as "exceptionally bold and brave".
Since 2017 King has been working internationally as a script coach and story consultant.
Profile updated on 3 February 2021
Brannavan Gnanalingham, 'Gregory King on A Song of Good' (Interview - broken link). Lumière website. Loaded 11 July 2008. Accessed 16 December 2014
Diane McAllen, 'Desktop Cinema: an interview with digital feature director Gregory King' The Big Idea website. Loaded 19 September 2007. Accessed 28 April 2020
Unknown writer, 'King, maker'(Interview) - OnFilm, November 2008, page 24 (Volume 25, Number 11)
'Congratulations to the 2015 Award Winners!' Show Me Shorts website. Loaded 12 November 2015. Accessed 12 November 2015