‘Black Sheep’ Diaries: The Concept

Writer/director Jonathan King’s new horror-comedy “Black Sheep” (read Kurt Loder’s review here) has been generating buzz with its “Shaun of the Dead” take on animal mutation. In a series of guest posts for MTV, King takes us inside the making of the film. In this first entry, he tackles the initial concept of the movie and discusses working with Peter Jackson’s world-famous special-effects shop, Weta.

So, I had this idea: a horror movie about sheep. From New Zealand. It was a fun idea that you could make anywhere. But New Zealanders have this, well…special relationship with sheep. I knew that people would enjoy the idea of combining those elements as much as I did: they made me laugh as well as relish the possibilities for splatterific mayhem.

One of the first people we told about the project was Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor. Once he’d got over the reminder of childhood sheep-related traumas, he laughed and said he’d love to help us make the idea a reality. Weta helped answer people’s first question: ’Cool idea, but how do you make sheep scary?’ Anyone who’s ever seen sheep up close knows that it’s no big leap: they have sharp hooves, lizardy eyes and hard bony brows. I always knew that if we could capture that on screen, we’d be halfway to making the idea work.

Weta did us some amazing concept art that showed what sheep with murder on the mind looked like — as well as the first-ever looks at a weresheep — which (I decided) is what you get when a person is bitten by a genetically-engineered sheep!

The concept art did a treat and the project was enthusiastically received in New Zealand and internationally. I was lucky enough to go to the Cannes Film Festival, trudging up and down the Croisette, armed with my book of pictures and this crazy pitch. We raised our budget…now all we had to do was make it!

Check back next week for the next installment of the ’Black Sheep’ Diaries!