Mat King to direct ‘Pine Gap’ for the ABC and Netflix
Mat King on set. (Photo: John Brawley)
EXCLUSIVE: After directing episodes of The Wrong Girl, Wentworth, House Husbands and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries following a stellar career in the UK, Mat King has won the plum gig of directing Screentime’s Pine Gap.
King will direct all six episodes of the political thriller commissioned by the ABC and Netflix.
Created by showrunner Greg Haddrick and co-writer Felicity Packard, the miniseries will focus on the interaction between the Americans and Aussies who work at the US/Australian spy satellite base in the Northern Territory.
King landed the job after a conference call between the Screentime creative team and their Netflix counterparts led by Elizabeth Bradley, Netflix’s vice president of content.
“Netflix wanted to hear my pitch,” he tells IF. “I was aware there was a lot of competition for the job. It was a very positive call.”
Pre-production will start at the end of November, including scouting for locations in the Northern Territory. Much of the interiors will be filmed at the Adelaide studios.
There will be a wide casting search as the key characters are Australian, American and other nationalities. King hopes to use a combination of big names and, he says, “some brilliant actors whose faces are not as recognisable, given it’s set in a world of secrecy.”
He says: “Most Australians don’t know what Pine Gap does and nor does the rest of the world. The story of Pine Gap is an uncanny microcosm of the state of play in international politics. The personal stakes are high for the people who choose to work there and it’s fascinating to view the relationship between America and Australia through this lens.”
King first worked with Screentime and Haddrick in 2011 on Underbelly: Razor. Thereafter the two parties wanted to collaborate on several projects but that did not happen due to King’s scheduling or his London base.
Haddrick said, “Mat combines a clear and subtle eye for performance with a proven ability to create a visual language that supports the tone and theme of the story being told. We look forward to an inspiring collaboration.”
The Adelaide-born director started out on TVCs but had a burning desire to get into TV drama. Unable to break into that business, he moved to the UK and was hired to direct children’s action/comedy series M.I. High for CBBC.
That led to three seasons directing Law & Order: UK plus episodes of Doctor Who and DCI Banks. Australian producers then offered him jobs including Matchbox Pictures, Valhalla Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions’ Hunters.