Ex-graphic designer Jonathan King learnt about filmmaking while directing more than 100 music videos, including NZ Music Awards best video nominee Behold My Kool Style. King’s feature debut was 2007 comedy horror hit Black Sheep, about GE sheep run amok. It screened around the world. He followed it with an adaptation of Maurice Gee sci fi classic Under the Mountain, and self-funded twister REALITi.
People like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson were very inspiring to me ... they didn’t wait for their break, they went and made things. And now those guys, as it happens, are some of the biggest filmmakers in the world. Jonathan King, in an interview on website Filmlot
Inspired by the mindbending tales of The Twilight Zone and the freedom of a low budget, Jonathan King's stylish yet “modestly budgeted" twister marks his first collaboration with novelist Chad Taylor. King regular Nathan Meister stars as a media executive whose confusions multiply after learning that a strung-out woman (Michelle Langstone) has his wallet. Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles praised the film's canny visions of a future where others control our perceptions of reality. REALITi's five NZ Film Award nominations included Best Self-Funded Film and Screenplay.
Maurice Gee's classic novel about aliens running amok under Auckland has rarely gone out of print, since its debut in 1979. First adapted as a memorable 80s TV series, this movie retooling sees teenage twins Theo and Rachel stumbling across shape-shifting creatures that are hiding beneath Auckland's extinct volcanoes. American showbiz magazine Variety praised Black Sheep director Jonathan King's "solid helming", and the excellent acting of Sam Neill as the mysterious Mr Jones. Oliver Driver plays lead villain Mr Wilberforce, under four hours of make-up.
A mutant lamb escapes from the lab after dodgy genetic experiments, and herds of sheep are turned into bloodthirsty predators. Three hapless humans are stranded on the farm as the woolly nightmare develops. They discover a bite from an infected sheep has an alarming effect on those bitten. With his first feature, director Jonathan King (Under the Mountain) provides splatter thrills and attacks a few sacred cows. Black Sheep was invited to 20+ international festivals, where it scored acclaim and multiple awards. The interviews include King, Weta's Richard Taylor, and the cast.
Tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr, American star of Roswell) travels the world looking for ethnic designs to exploit for his art. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he is introduced to the traditional Samoan tattoo, and falls for Sina (No. 2's Mia Blake) the beautiful cousin of tattooist Alipati. When Jake recklessly steals a Samoan tattooing tool, he unwittingly unleashes a powerful spirit that endangers everyone he touches. This inaugural Kiwi-Singaporean co-production was directed by Peter Burger and produced by Robin Scholes (Once Were Warriors).
Historian Michael King's opus was a bridge between Māori and Pākehā; he turned Aotearoa's history into an unprecedented publishing bestseller. History Man traces King's own past, to understand the man and his passion for his work. This doco was commissioned only weeks before King and his wife were tragically killed in a car accident. Nevertheless it is a detailed portrait of a much loved and missed New Zealander. It is another collaboration from this producer/director team, whose subjects include Michael Houstoun, Ian Mune and Barry Crump.
A sometimes pink-haired Boh Runga looks like one very stroppy rock chick in her performance for this punchy video, directed by Jonathan King. And just what is she doing approaching that man on an operating table with a big needle?
Prolific music video director Jonathan King delivers a simple but finely-executed clip with this anthem for the jilted. Although the band act like nothing is wrong and pull off an artful mime, it soon becomes clear that they have no instruments. Shot in extremely narrow focus, singer Julia Deans' sometimes wistful, sometimes sneering performance matches the brooding tone of the song, which topped the Kiwi charts despite initial disinterest from mainstream radio. The clip was shot at Verona Cafe on Auckland's K Road. 'Lydia' marked the third single from the band's first album Pet.
Biographer Michael King takes us through the life of pioneering writer Frank Sargeson: from puritanical parents to self-discovery in London, through to decades encouraging an emerging tide of New Zealand writers. The documentary’s most priceless moments are the tales told when four of those writers return to Sargeson’s fabled fibrolite bach, in Takapuna. Kevin Ireland calls it an “oasis, this marvellous place where books ruled supreme”. Sargeson’s purposefuly minimalistic writing style, the doco argues, helped NZ literature find its own voice.
Auckland troubadour Greg Johnson won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1997 with this moody, tortured love song from his fourth album (his first for a major label), Chinese Whispers. The elegant, uncluttered video was directed and edited by Jonathan King. The video was shot in the Auckland suburbs of Newmarket and Parnell. With a narrative straight out of Hitchcock, Johnson is cast as narrator — and both the victim and accomplice of a blonde femme fatale in what appears to be a murder ... with a mysterious handbag the only clue.
'Circus Kids' was the second single from Bike’s sole long-play album Take In The Sun. It is a prime example of the layered, classically-inspired arrangements and pop songcraft that frontman Andrew Brough had touched on in previous band Straitjacket Fits. In this swirling, elegantly-gothic video, an innocent young boy goes a-wandering, and discovers the seedy underbelly of circus life — all rendered in lush black and white by director Jonathan King, and veteran cinematographer Neil Cervin. Brough died in February 2020.
This video for Andrew Brough's band Bike features the group playing in a moving caravan, which is being driven by a frazzled father (Topless Women Talk about their Lives actor Ian Hughes). Says director Jonathan King: "I had a vision of Shayne Carter in mirror shades playing a policeman. He agreed on the condition he wouldn't shave his mo. Of course it just added to the moment. Ian Hughes brought his new puppy, Olive, along because he had no one to look after it, so we integrated it into the action. In fact much of the fun stuff he does was him just improvising on the day."
Directed by prolific music video maker turned movie director Jonathan King, this clip for pioneering hip hop duo Dam Native won Best Video at the 1997 NZ Music Awards. It evokes the look of a sepia-tinged colonial era photo, and the art direction —Edwardian suits and tokotoko (walking stick) — are beautifully realised. The film was then deliberately scratched to help it look aged. The result makes an effective backdrop to the song’s political lyrics. DJ Sir-Vere called the track “an original Aotearoa classic”.