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An Interview with David R. Williams, Director of Manifestation

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2013

Films directed by David R. Williams on (re)Search my Trash


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We have talked about your upcoming film Manifestation quite a bit before [click here] - still, can you bring us up to speed what it's going to be about?


Manifestation is about a couple whose marriage disintegrates following the death of their young son. The emotional anguish they experience not only destroys their marriage but is so powerful that it manifests itself into a physical entity. I was describing Manifestation as Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf as written by H.P. Lovecraft. But as the script has developed, the story has moved into even dark realms. I now describe it as Andrzej Żuławskiís Posssession meets Lars von Trierís Antichrist by way of Catherine Breillatís Anatomy of Hell. A very dark and troubling film.


The project has run into a bit of trouble lately - would you care to elaborate?


About four years ago I plead guilty to a charge of embezzlement. I was sentenced to six and five, which means I did six months in prison and was given five years probation. I did four months and am now in year three of my probation. Because I am on probation I canít say much more about this. Since I got out I work, I support my family, I do my monthly probation meeting, I pay my agreed upon restitution and I walk the straight and narrow.

Now there are certain filmmakers in Buffalo who apparently believe they are the moral backbone of this area and have decided they do not want me making films. They have gone so far as to call Michael Berrymanís agent and from what I have been told, whoever made the call identified themselves only as a ďBuffalo filmmakerĒ, and whatever they told her about me so scared her, and that was the phrase used, ďscared herĒ, that she withdrew Michaelís name from the project. At this point in time Joe Hollow [Joe Hollow interview - click here], Wolfgang, and Debra Lamb [Debra Lamb interview - click here] have all dropped out of the project. I harbor no ill will toward them. They did what they believed they had to do. I do know that all three were contacted by this person or persons and told whatever they were told.


Looking back at the whole embezzlement affair: You've done the crime, you've done the time - so how would you rate your actions in retrospect, and lessons learned from the whole thing?


Because I am still on probation I have to be careful about what I say. I regret all the pain and embarrassment I caused my family, especially my wife. Iíve learned that nothing is more important than my family and her love.


Without calling any names please, do you have any idea who's so adamant to sabotage your movie project, and why?


Itís people who feel I have wronged them in one way or the other. Most I have worked with on various films and in one way or the other, they failed to deliver. They over-promised and under-delivered or failed to deliver at all. And I called them on it. And they donít like that. Some Iíve fired. Theyíll tell you I didnít. But I did.

Hereís some of the things that are being said.


One thing that is going around is that there are a ďtons of writers in the Horror Writers Associations who sold stories to Red Scream Magazine and never got paid for themĒ.

Red Scream was a magazine I published a number of years back. It was sort of a mashup between Fangoria or Rue Morgue and Film Comment. I believe we paid 2-3 cents a word and/or copies. This is standard small press practices. The magazine lasted for about a year and a half, maybe two years. We had distribution issues from the beginning. Our covers were considered too graphic - which still puzzles me as I donít believe they were, they were striking covers thatís for, sure but graphic? I think not. And advertisers were slow to come. So eventually we realized it just wasnít going to happen and shut it down. Magazines fold all the time. It happens. But anyone who was published got paid. They were either paid money or in copies or both. Any writer who cares to dispute this, Iíd love to hear from them. This is a good example of the sort of broad swipe allegations being made against. Tons of writers? Really? Name one and prove it.


There are people associated with a certain film of mine who are saying that I screwed them. I believe what they mean by screwed them is they have not seen any money from the movie. They havenít seen any money from the movie because I have not seen any money because the film hasnít made any money. It hasnít made any money because it's really not that good a film. Now as the producer, director and writer I have to take responsibility for that. But if these people really want to point fingers then letís talk about why it isnít a good movie.

Letís start with the FX - the FX team had somewhere between 3-5 months to get ready for the shoot. On the first day of production they had literally nothing ready, and because of their lack of preparedness, it pushed the schedule back continually. What I mean is, rather than a standard 12 hour day, we were looking at 18 hour days as the rest of the cast and crew waited for the FX team to get their work ready. Hereís an example, one day we shot a day and half worth of non-FX material while waiting for the FX team to ready a single very simple effect. That effect by the way was virtually unusable and in the final film shows up for about a second. I cannot say that nothing they did was of value, but their lack of preparedness and the number of FX I had to cut around resulted in longer days, which affects performance as the actors are drained, and it hurts the film as the rest of the crew, already operating on very little sleep, gets even less. And when you are building a scene around a single effect and that effect doesnít workÖ thereís little you can do to save that scene.

But the real problem was the DoP - we were shooting with three cameras. The idea was to shoot the establishing shot with one camera, medium shot with the second and have the third camera focus on close-ups and more importantly, move about. This was discussed endlessly in preproduction and on the set. It was made very very clear. Because we were so behind time there was no time for me to view dailies, so I didnít see any footage till I sat down with the editor. Scene after scene, all three cameras gave me establishing shots. You cannot build a scene with nothing but establishing shots. Actually you can if you plan for it. But these scenes were planned with the idea of being able to cut from wide shot to close up to medium shot, etc. I had nothing but establishing shots. I had nothing to cut to. If an actor flubbed a line or there was some technical issue, I had nothing to cut to. I had to find a scene that was without error start to end. You canít build a scene that way. It wasnít planned that way. It took three editors nearly two years to put together a version of the film that I could even think about shopping around to distributors. And even then - it just wasnít enough.

So anyone who wants to point a finger at me and say, he screwed us. No. They screwed themselves. Again as the producer, director and writer I had to take full responsibility. But these people need to man up and take their own.


Iíve also been told that thereís a filmmaker out there whose film I was involved in distributing and she claims she had to threaten legal action to get the rights back to her film. What happened here was, we picked up the film for distribution. We ran some ads. We shopped it to some sub-distributors. Nothing. Absolutely no interest whatsoever. I was frustrated and I believe made some unkind comments for which I apologized. Apparently that wasnít good enough and this filmmaker had one of her friends draw up some paper threatening legal action if we didnít give her back all rights to her film. Since the contract was written so that if anyone wanted to end the contract for whatever reason, thatís all she had to do. But you know, these people love drama. Itís the big fish little pond syndrome. We gave her back her film and wished her well. There was no drama, only the drama she wanted to create.


Look, Iím not trying to paint myself as a victim here. I am anything but that. I take full responsibility for my actions. But donít present half truths and complete lies and do it in the dark, behind my back. Grow a pair and confront me face to face. But of course people like this donít do that.


As far as I know, the whole affair has caused a few changes in Manifestation's cast and crew - care to elaborate who's gone, who's new, who's still on and the like?


As I said, Joe, Wolfgang and Debra are gone. I believe Bob Bozek is also gone but he has yet to contact me about that. Melantha Blackthrone [Melantha Blackthorne interview - click here] is still very much involved although she has been repeatedly pressured to drop out. Pat Tantalo and Roy Knyrim are both still involved. I have a new DoP along with a soundperson and editor. Iím leaving casting till we are ready to move forward.


According to my information, you've pulled your Kickstarter campaign once the scandal broke. So how are you planning to raise funds now?


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I think the word scandal makes this sound bigger than it is. Itís not. Itís Buffalo. Itís big fish in a really small pond doing what big fish do to make themselves look big to their acolytes. In terms of funding, Iíve got some feelers out, Pat and Roy have some feelers out - but it's like any project. If it happens it happens. If not, then not. Iíve got a file of projects in various stages of development. Itís a great script and a fantastic role for Melantha. I hope it happens just for her sake alone. But if it doesnít happen, well, it doesnít affect me. I still get up in the morning, let the dogs out, let the cats in, get the kids ready for school, go to workÖ life goes on you know.


So what's the tentative schedule for Manifestation as far as you know - and what keeps you so keen to bring the project to an end after all of this hardship?


Itís a great script and would make a very dark and troubling film.


Any future projects beyond Manifestation? And maybe even more pressing in the light of events, are you planning to continue shooting in Buffalo or do you plan to move location for future projects?


Right now plans are to shoot Manifestation in Buffalo. In terms of future projects have several other projects in various stages of development but itís far too early to even mention those and Iím kind of waiting to see what Scarlet Samurai does and looking forward to finally getting Cleric out the door.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



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



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... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Tršume ...


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