Known for amplifying the stories of Australian artists, Maddy King has spent her career so far proudly championing talent from home and abroad, naturally drawn towards authentic coming-of-age stories and the youthful energy they exude. Here, LBB’s April Summers dives into the work that made her, retracing the steps that led the filmmaker to this well-deserved position in the spotlight.
Growing up among the natural beauty and scenic vistas of New South Wales, inspiration was never too hard to find, and Maddy developed a director’s eye early on. Fine-tuning her skills at the International Film School Sydney, Maddy’s penchant for storytelling was blended with her passion for new music, sparking an interest in music video direction, a creative venture she harnessed by connecting with up and coming musicians online.
In her work with these artists - many of whom she had been introduced to on Soundcloud and other social media platforms - Maddy developed a creative ritual which took her on long drives out of the city. She would roll down the windows and crank up the music, playing a song on repeat as she waited for inspiration to strike. Guided by the music, it was on these drives that Maddy was able to visualise the look and feel of a project, piecing together the film frame by frame.
Given Maddy’s passion and dedication to her craft, it was only a matter of time before things took off, which happened when she was approached by an A&R from Universal Music. This introduction blossomed into a fruitful relationship with Universal that saw her directing music videos for Australian music acts, including Yuma X, Coterie and Anfa Rose – her work for the latter winning a Gold in the music video category at the Australian Cinematography Awards in 2017.
It was a year later, in 2018, that Maddy’s music video work first received widespread recognition, with her directorial film for Moza ‘GOLD’ being chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick, amplifying her status as a filmmaker.
Maddy reflects fondly on this time, recognising that these early experiences taught her invaluable lessons she would carry forward in her career. Speaking to the director, it becomes clear that the collaborative energy at the heart of any project is the driving force for her. “One of my favourite shoots was the Yuma X ‘Secret Lover’ video which we shot right before the first COVID lockdown,” she recalls. “We had a small crew who all drove out to the countryside and stayed in a rustic shed which had been converted to an Airbnb. There was no phone service, so we were in our own little bubble for 3 days.” It’s this purified collaborative aspect of filmmaking which makes the craft a joyful venture that Maddy continues to hungrily pursue.
Some of her most successful music videos to date include her work with OneFour - the viral rap group who paved the way for the Australian drill scene - who she has partnered up with for a number of projects. Having directed the video for ‘Home and Away’ in their hometown of Mount Druitt, Maddy looks back on the project as a particularly memorable collaborative experience.
“For Home and Away the boys were telling a story about themselves that meant a lot to them, and they were really involved throughout the entire process, from location scouting together to being involved in the edit,” she says. “The energy wasn’t what you might expect from a typical rap music video set. The boys have a strong brand and know exactly what their audience will love and respond to, so they were extremely driven in making sure our vision was well executed. It made for a really focused, almost serious energy on the shoot day, which was beneficial to the final product.”
Since joining MOFA, a production company focused on the Australia and New Zealand regions, in 2021, Maddy has discovered the magnanimous bounty of adland. Bolstered by the encouragement of MOFA co-founders, Llew Griffiths and Nick Kelly - “they’re both incredibly supportive, nurturing and relentless at pursuing quality work” - she began exploring the commercial space.
This year, she has directed a number of automotive spots, confident with the subject matter, having worked with cars throughout her career. “The transition to car commercials felt quite natural,” Maddy explains. “I love the thrill of being in the camera car and how collaborative that process is. A big element of it is organised chaos so naturally your adrenaline is pumping. You find a synergy on the day that allows everyone involved to feel those wins, when we see a piece of choreography coming together to achieve the shot we’re aiming for.”
Her most recent work in the automotive space includes a sleek and sexy spot for Lexus, a commercial is particularly proud of, having delivered on exactly what they set out to create. “I wanted the spot to feel elegant and energetic, capturing the electric moments within the lifestyle elements of the story. It was important that every aspect of the film felt high end and cinematic; from the locations to the time of day we were shooting. It was a brief that was well aligned with my cinematic style, which made the process with the creatives really enjoyable.”
Maddy’s seamless segue into the commercial space is further proof of her diverse creative capabilities. Having developed a distinctly cinematic style, the natural next step is to direct a feature film, an ambition of hers that has the backing of both Llew and Nick. With every faith in her versatility as a filmmaker, the co-founders are looking forward to what comes next. “We are really excited to be on this journey with Maddy,” says Llew proudly. “Her talent and ambition shone through in her work when we first met in 2021. Since then she has used those natural skills and the knowledge of her craft gained from music video experience, in her approach to TVCs to incredible effect.”