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An Interview with David King, Director of Exit

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2016

Films directed by David King on (re)Search my Trash


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


The basic question underlying the whole thing is: what is reality? One of the voices in Y’s head actually asks the question: Is anything real? Maybe everything is, maybe nothing is.

Suppose you live inside a Virtual Reality construct but don’t  realise it until the whole thing starts falling apart. Then you struggle to understand what you’re seeing. Exit tries to capture what it might be like to experience that. It’s also an experiment in having three different realities going on at once, any or none of which may be real.

Is Y actually living inside a virtual reality? Is he a writer writing about a character living inside a virtual reality? Or a catatonic inmate of an asylum imagining a writer writing about a character living inside a virtual reality? You decide.


With Exit being a piece of antiutopian cinema, to what extent is it based on the way you see the world of today?


It was based on how I see seaside estates of empty holiday homes. Beautifully-landscaped estates which are almost empty for two thirds of the year, giving the surreal feeling of the homes being mere facades. Like film sets designed to trick people into believing they’re in some ordinary reality when the opposite is true. The rest of it was based on my fascination with the idea of realities inside realities like Russian Dolls, and the concepts behind quantum physics.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Exit?


I would change the word ‘writing’ to ‘developing’ Although I had a screenplay of sorts, it wasn’t really a scripted project. It came about organically, shooting ideas as they came to me in the classical experimental style. I only wrote a rough screenplay so as to give the other cast and crew members some idea of what they would be doing. The most rigorous part of writing was the voice overs, two-thirds of which were dropped from the finished film.

Inspiration for the multi-tiered ‘storyline’ came from the whole idea of quantum physics in which all of time is basically happening all at once on many different levels, but human beings - like slugs crawling along a ruler - only experience one thing at a time on a linear level. They never get the ‘big picture’.

On a filmmaking level, I was inspired (without in any way copying) by the works of Andrei Tarkovsky (Stalker), US film artist Matthew Barney (The Cremaster Cycle), and Japanese experimental filmmaker  Shuji Terayama (The Labyrinth, 16 + 1) .


Exit is rather associative when it comes to storytelling - so do talk about that approach of yours, and how hard was it to not lose the plot in the process?


There wasn’t any desire to have a story in the normal sense of the word. It was conceived as a series of interlinking ideas around a theme. Shifting ideas around to achieve a balance was relatively easy. Some ideas got thrown out because they didn’t fit easily with the rest. It was intended as an experimental art film aimed more at art galleries than cinemas. For this reason, it’s good that the Overkill Festival in the Netherlands (25 - 27 November) is screening it as an installation instead of as a movie. It’s not intended to be experienced as a ‘story’ that needs to be followed from beginning to end, but as a visual and aural odyssey where you can experience as much or as little as you wish from any point you wish.


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


It was never intentional. I began filming myself as part of experimenting with a new camera. I didn’t expect to be the lead character in a movie. For a long time, I didn’t even know I was making any kind of movie, experimental or otherwise. I was just playing around with a camera to see what it could do and what I could do with it. When I finally realised I was shooting a film of sorts, I had so much footage of myself, I had literally no choice but to continue. It was that or re-shoot everything with another person.

I didn’t have any character notes or back story because Y himself doesn’t really know who he is or what he is. He lives from ‘day-to-day’ in a kind of abstract soulless limbo where nothing ever changes and no one ever asks why. Their VR constructs are not programmed to ask such questions. The only thing he can experience when it all starts breaking down around him is bewilderment and the desire to find out what’s real. That’s when the very idea of reality itself gets called into question.


What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


Once I realised I had some sort of experimental art film and that I would need more than myself and my partner to complete it, I put ads in the local newspapers and community bulletins asking for volunteers. I didn’t expect to find more than a couple of people interested. To my great surprise, I was literally overwhelmed with interest and had to turn some very enthusiastic people down because they were too young for the roles on offer.

There are three main characters - Y who is played by me, U who is played by my partner Andrea, and R, the Psychiatrist, who is  played by Ed Mylan. Andrea and I played roles because we were both available and obviously weren’t going to charge anything. Ed was a filmmaker from the USA and provided some gear for the shoot. Originally he wanted to get involved in editing, but his appearance convinced me he was right for the role of the Psychiatrist. He was also the main compsositor for the green screen work, some of which we made deliberately rough to capture the feeling of things falling apart.

There is also Gemma Papalia who plays the Face of Ecstasy, and Gemma Wells who turned out to be an excellent Newsreader. The final character is the Madwoman in the asylum played by retired local actor Lorraine Hall who also co-produced the film. These people basically looked right for the roles. The rest of the cast are extras who double in various places since we never see who they are.

Christine Monjaret, for example, was a figure in the asylum scenes and also provided the voice of the telecommunications system in Y’s dwelling. Andrew Hills was another extra who also played one of the voices in Y’s head.


Do talk about your directorial approach to your story at hand!


I had to find ways of shooting scenes which would make it immediately clear that this had nothing to do with the real world. So I shot close ups of hands and mouths and silhouettes against glaring white backgrounds. As a hearing impaired person, I’m always looking at people’s mouths to try and lipread them. It’s normal for me. But most people don’t perceive other people as merely mouths so this served to create a heightened sense of unreality. Ditto for the silhouette shots where we see the inmates of the asylum only as slow-moving shadows. The seaside estates had their own sense of unreality - row after row of  beautiful houses with beautiful landscaping, empty and silent. Much of the film takes place inside Y’s mind so I used a variety of  visual and aural techniques to try and capture the way his thoughts were playing out and the way he experienced his world disintegrating around him.

With my actors and extras, I simply kept all acting requirements to a minimum. Sometimes, they surprised me.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


On the DVD there are interviews with the cast and crew who basically say how much they enjoyed the experience and how eye-opening it was for many of them. Few of them had ever worked on a film before so it was a learning experience. I had to show some of them how to do what needed to be done. The rest of the time it was just me and a camera, or Andrea and me and a camera. It was a very simple and basic type of shoot. For those who had worked on a professional film before, it was eye-opening for that reason. As Lorraine Hall said - having been on sets with 50 or 60 people around, it was a shock to come on my set and find only two or three people to do everything.

But it all contributed to a greater sense of enjoyment.


The $64-question of course, when and where will Exit be released onto the general public?


Exit is being released as a limited edition DVD. Only 30 copies will ever be made. We’ve already sold about half to people who are interested in this type of film. We’re also selling to institutions i.e. universities and libraries.

If anyone is interested in purchasing a DVD, they can contact me direct via my email address (, or via The Overkill Festival, or leave a message with you. They can also contact me on Facebook.

It won’t be streaming online anywhere primarily because the DVD is intended as a work of art in itself, an object to own and cherish.

You can, however, see the trailer online on YouTube , Vimeo or Facebook.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your film yet?


Exit won Best Director award at the Hell Chess Film Festival in Madrid, Spain in July this year. This was an official event of the Cultural Affairs Department of Madrid and drew an audience of between 200 and 300 people, mostly avant garde film buffs of one sort or another. The festival has a very rigorous selection procedure and screened only nine films from all over the world.

The organiers compared Exit in theme to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and declared it a “brilliant, brave and bold attempt to challenge old narrative methods” I was told it was only a couple of votes from winning Best Film award.

Frank Schonewille, who publishes Cultzine in the Netherlands, described it as “Existentialism in all its glory”, and Stuart Anderson who publishes The Fifth Dimension called it “Mind-bending”.

Most people who have seen it either privately or at the premiere have been impressed and conveyed to me their pleasure at being fortunate enough to experience such a work.

I have no doubt there would be plenty of people in the world who would hate Exit, but I didn’t make it for them.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Talking about future projects is like giving Murphy a personal invitation to come along and stuff them up before they even get to first base. My advice is don’t.


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


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The trailer is on YouTube at and on Facebook at

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More information on me can be found at


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


Well, I hope I’m not dying yet but I’ll let you know about that after I get the test results back.


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks again for the opportunity!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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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
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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


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