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Issue 120 [May-June 2019] RECOVERY

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The homeless film director

May 01 2019
The Homeless Film Director, David Fussell, says: “I would like to have five feature films behind me and a stable income. I don’t like houses, so I’d live on a cabin cruiser (boat). That’s my dream”.  © VICE Media The Homeless Film Director, David Fussell, says: “I would like to have five feature films behind me and a stable income. I don’t like houses, so I’d live on a cabin cruiser (boat). That’s my dream”. © VICE Media

David Fussell talks about how he made Mystic Demon Killer and his hopes that it’ll become a cult classic. Interview by Jacqueline Messih and Judah Stephenson

A homeless filmmaker who completed his first feature film while living on Tottenham Court Road has premiered at Screen On The Green cinema. Mystic Demon Killer is David Fussell’s first feature film. It is a horror/thriller about an MI6 agent sent on a covert operation. The making of this film is remarkable considering the testing circumstances that surround it. The 56-year-old lost his home after a flood ruined the exterior of the property and put him into debt. In 2013, David left North Wales, where the film was shot, and set out for London with nothing but the clothes on his back, a hard drive and a “dream”.

David’s experience in filmmaking was limited but he believes “the best way to make films is to actually make films.” David learnt all his post-production skills through editing music videos and wedding videos for friends. Although Mystic Demon Killer is David’s first attempt at a feature film, many have commented on its quality. David’s advice to other aspiring filmmakers is that “people are too afraid to make a fool of themselves these days, but everyone has to make a fool of themselves in order to learn. You’re not going to learn sitting around thinking about it.”

It is this passion and drive that radiates from David when you speak to him, and it’s what drove him to complete the film despite the adversities of homelessness.
David fondly recalls being bought a guitar from his nan, and a camera from his auntie at seven-years-old. Using both at such a young age, David discovered a love for both photography and music, and soon realised that film was in fact a blend of the two. That’s when his passion for film began to blossom.

The film was shot on mini DV at very high quality for the time, using a £2,000 camera. David mentions how he could have got 10x the quality for a fraction of the price now, but also highlights how “you’ve got to make things when you can.” David was still unsure as to whether anything could be retrieved from his hard drive and had limited resources and equipment living on the streets of London. “I had to work for Next for about three years before I had the equipment to even start anything. That was the biggest problem. The final edit took about eight months and I used libraries, pubs and the computer at homeless shelter C4WS, mostly using free editing software”.

The choice of horror wasn’t random for David, in fact, it was very well calculated. David describes how with the horror genre, films never become unpopular. He also notes that if you do make a bad one, it can be really great because really bad films are so watchable. He thinks fans of horror are more open to buying stuff they haven't heard of, so for a debut feature film, David decided this was the best choice.

Since its release on Halloween 2018, David has sold 18 copies, and grossed US$137 dollars in total. With the release of the Vice documentary about him, The Homeless Film Director, on 10 April, David’s inspirational story in the build-up to the cinematic premiere of his film looks set to reach 12 million people.

  • Rent or purchase Mystic Demon Killer here: http://bit.ly/2U50bu4
  • Support David’s GoFundMe for further films here:
    - http://bit.ly/2P0spFg
    - http://c4wshomelessproject.org
  • Find The Homeless Film Director on Vice https://video.vice.com/en_uk/video/vice-mystic-demon-killer-homeless-filmmaker/5c5d94e0be40773bcc774261

Film tips

  • Try crowd funding or an investor for your creative projects.
  • Advice to filmmakers “be willing to cut it tightly down”.
  • Make sure your basic needs are met: food, clothes and warmth. This can all be acquired through charities.
  • Use libraries and churches for quiet time to collect your thoughts and allow your creativity to flow.
  • Use social media, such as Twitter and Insta as marketing platforms.
Issue 120 [May-June 2019] RECOVERY

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