How The Mighty Boosh Shaped Wonka Director Paul King’s Filmmaking Career [Exclusive]


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the premiere of “The Mighty Boosh,” so when I got a chance to speak with Paul King leading up to the home media release of “Wonka” (available now on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD), I wanted to dig a little bit into his history with the cult favorite comedy series. As King recalled, he hadn’t done much directing before the series came along:

“I learned so much making “The Mighty Boosh.” I’d really done hardly anything before that. I’d directed some performances on this show called “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace,” but I didn’t really know one end of the camera from another, and Noel and Julian just gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when they asked me to direct their show. I think what was nice was we were all learning together. So their influence runs so deep in my DNA, and it’s kind of all over the place, really, I suppose.”

When you watch “The Mighty Boosh,” there’s a real makeshift sensibility about it, with cheap animal costumes, hokey blue screen effects for driving, and small sets reminiscent of ’90s television. But that’s all part of the show’s wacky charm and off-kilter antics. It’s kind of the perfect environment for a filmmaker to be able to experiment and play with the medium while also learning the basics of directing television. And when you’re working with comedians like Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, it’s just plain fun. In fact, it’s their playfulness that taught King an important lesson in collaboration:

“I think one of the things I learned was, they’re such incredible improvisers, and it made me fall in love with the spontaneity that you can sometimes have. Which is difficult when you have this huge machine of a film moving forward, and people have built something or you’ve got one idea and you’ve really piled all your hopes into it. But if a better idea comes along at the last minute, you have to embrace it. Especially with actors and performance, my favorite thing is working with actors who will make the script funnier than I ever dreamed and will come up with a line that I hadn’t come up with. To be open to that and work with that is a pleasure.”

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