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An Interview with Emma Dark, Director of Purgatoric

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2018

Emma Dark on (re)Search my Trash


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


Purgatoric is an experimental art film. Shot digitally I affected it in post production to give it a Super 8mm look and feel. The film explores themes of death, sadness, uncertainty, and ultimately hope. It stars cult film and arts icon Billy Chainsaw, with music by London based band The Core.


Other than with your previous films, you went the non-narrative, experimental road with Purgatoric - what caused that decision?


I did, and you have to remember that this isn't one of my festival films, it's intended as a straight to web art piece. That's something I'm keen to avoid confusion on. It doesn't mean it's any less valid, but there is a significant difference in my approach and the entire life cycle of the film. If I'm making a festival film, or something commercial it's probably not going to be an experimental art film, but art films are something I enjoy and wanted to explore the story's themes using this approach.


Especially since Purgatoric is rather abstract - is it in any way based on personal experiences?


Well I think you could say that any artist can and will put their personal experiences into their work to give it a solid foundation. I'd actually had this idea floating around in my head for 2.5 years, but I guess 2018 generally being a year of ups and downs did feed into the end result.


(Other) sources of inspiration when dreaming up Purgatoric?


A few people have said some of the shots remind them of Kubrick (big thanks to those who have paid a massive compliment like that). While this might be by chance based on the architecture of the location there's probably something to be said for my love of retro imagery. So no exact influences, maybe just more of a stylistic approach and some rather helpful brutalist architecture.


You use some pretty impressive locations in Purgatoric - so did you write the film with these locations already in mind, and what was it like filming there?


Not exactly. From way back to the conception of the idea I had always envisioned filming on a particular popular beach on the south coast of England. I however did not film on that beach, and the location is a secret location suggested by the actor Billy Chainsaw.


Purgatoric has a Super 8-vibe to it, which I understand you only added in post-production - so what caused that decision?


Actually that wasn't intentional, but as I unluckily managed to gain a couple of spots somehow on my camera's sensor on the train down with no sensor cleaning kit to hand I had to improvise. That meant degrading the footage as gracefully as possible, hence 'Super Fake mm' was born, and as you can see I added light leaks, a faux hair on the lens and various other things to help achieve this effect.


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


This was slightly different to the meticulous planning of my festival short films. I wanted to go in with a basic storyboard and then improvise shots and actions on the day, and I shot this myself, because why not! For example I would say "act distraught" to Billy and see what interpretation I would get from him before drilling down into a more detailed directorial instruction. Often I didn't have to, Billy understood the story and the emotions I wanted portrayed and I preferred his improvisations to something more contrived looking that I may have achieved by pressing further.


Purgatoric stars Billy Chainsaw as the only actor in front of the camera - so what can you tell us about him, your collaboration with him, and why did you choose him in the first place?


Billy is a cult legend on the film and music scene having spent many years as a highly revered journalist and PR manager for Siouxsie and the Banshees, and he's a good friend of mine. I chose Billy because he asked to be in something and I could see he would be able to bring emotion to the table. I actually remember talking about casting Billy in something the first time I met him. He's got a great look and has featured in a few films, but it was really the emotion that made him perfect for this role, and the end result is something we achieved together.


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


It was hot! I got sunburnt, which makes a change from being freezing cold and getting a chest infection! Billy almost got his foot drenched in sea water, the BTS photographer managed to get his shoes wet I think. Apart from that it was a very relaxed and informal shoot.


The $64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?


Straight to web on Vimeo and YouTube here:


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


It seems to have gone down well. It's always hard to tell, and like I've mentioned it's not to be confused with one of my festival films. However myself, Billy, The Core (Pete, Mick), and poster artist Joe K Worrall put a lot of time, effort and passion into the film and I think that comes across and makes the piece noteworthy.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


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Your shop for all things Thai

Salient Minus Ten is still doing the festival circuit, you can catch the trailer here, and follow it on Facebook here Apart from that I have some feature ideas, and more ideas for creative pieces. As always I am waiting in anticipation of being approached for paid work after garnering various levels of interest from Hollywood and UK production companies this year.


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


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
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
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