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An Interview with Charles Davis, Director and Star of Athas

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2019

Charles Davis on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Athas - in a few words, what is it about?


Athas is a short film (32 min) that focuses on a struggling writer who goes to a quiet inn on a river in order to write. While there he slowly finds himself trapped inside the inn with a woman who oversees him and repeatedly urges him to finish his story.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Athas?


The main inspiration for the movie came from the struggles I went through making my previous film Portal Man. I love Portal Man, but the movie was a nightmare to make and I was feeling completely burnt out on pursuing creative endeavors after making it. This movie was largely a reflection on that - particularly how creativity is something we need but also something that can eat us alive.


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit!


I was mainly going for a mix of slow burn, surrealist atmosphere and having the movie reflect the deteriorating mental state of the main character.  All of my previous movies have been a bit over-the-top as well, lol, so I wanted to try doing something more subtle this time. 


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I was trying to consciously evoke a 70s sort of feel to the shots this time - for instance doing a lot of stuff with zooms  in order to emphasize certain moments. That also played out in the music for certain scenes.


You also play the lead in Athas - so do talk about your character for a bit, and have you written him with yourself in mind from the get-go?


I did write myself in mind for the character from the get-go. A lot of the movie was me reflecting on difficulties I was having at the time so it seemed appropriate, lol. 


What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and to what extent could you actually identify with him?


The main thing I drew upon was my feelings towards the frustrations that come with the act of creating things. You get into it thinking it's all fun and games but it's really just work work work - and mostly dull or frustrating work that drags on for a long time, lol. But at the same time I need it so I'm conflicted. I tried to portray this struggle with the character.


What can you tell us about your co-star Leslie Dame, and what made her perfect for the role?


I had very briefly worked with Leslie before on a movie I made called Eddie Glum (she was literally in 1 shot of the movie). I really enjoyed the day I spent filming with her and I felt she would be great for the role. She was incredible to work with and ended up taking the character in a completely different (and much much better) direction than I originally intended.


I enjoyed working with her so much that I actually wrote a role for her in a feature film that we completed shooting this summer (and I'm in the process of editing right now).


You also have to talk about your location of course, and how did you find it, and what was it like filming there?


Yes! That location is actually a summer home that my family owns which my grandfather bought in the 60s. I spent my summers as a kid there and the place always freaked me out. I've wanted to film horror stuff there for a while and this was my chance. All of the decorations that were on the walls are things my eccentric father has added over the years, so there was a lot to work with in terms of making the place look weird.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


It was great!  There were only three people on the shoot the entire time: Me, Leslie and our producer/cinematographer Mickey O'Hagan. We only filmed for 2 days and everything went really smoothly and we all became very good friends afterwards. There was a lot of firsts for us too, as this was my first time *really* working with either Leslie or Mickey and this was Leslie's 1st *real* film project (she's been a popular theater actress in the Adirondacks for years).


Mickey O'Hagan did a really amazing job as a cinematographer as well.  Mickey is actually an incredible actress - (she's been in a bunch of famous stuff including the movies Tangerine, Destroyer, and the TV shows Homeland and I Am The Night) - and this was her first time ever doing behind the camera work. She was really nervous at first but within an hour she was running the camera and setting up lights like it was 2nd nature! The movie would not look as good as it does if it wasn't for her.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Athas?


The move just got released on Amazon so we don't really know yet! We did screen at the Chain Film Festival and the Newark Film Festival in Aug/Sept and it was really well received by the audiences there. I'm hoping the general public is able to find it now! 


Any future projects you'd like to share?


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Your shop for all things Thai

Yes! As I said, me and Leslie have finished filming a feature film called Circle. I'm editing it right now and hopefully we will have it out around this time next year.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

@chunklefreaky (Instagram and Twitter)


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?


Nope! Thank you!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD