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An Interview with Kirk White, Director of Hide-A-Key

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2015

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Your upcoming movie Hide-a-Key - in a few words, what is it about?


In the fewest words? It’s Othello with more nudity and better kills. In a few more, slightly less pretentious words, it’s about a dude who locks himself out of his house and when he opens his hide-a-key, he finds, instead of his key a memory stick containing videos of an unknown intruder seriously fucking with his family. It’s about the thing we fear the most, we are not safe when we think we’re the safest. But seriously… there’s going to be some kick ass murder in here.


What were your sources of inspiration when dreaming up Hide-a-Key?


Two key things happened kinda back to back after my wife and I bought our first house: 

1. I had to go there a lot at night to put up paint samples and like the big strong man I am, got really scared of my house at night. Seriously. No… like I was in there and these noises to start happening and I would get that fast heart beating nervous terror, sweats going and by the time I was finished, I would be running out to the car after. 

And 2. On the DAY we moved in I had one job… go there early and wait for the movers. So naturally I locked myself out of the house and had to climb in a window… after which I went to Home Depot to buy a hide-a-key, and as I was trying to find a suitable place to hide it, I had the thought… “what if I opened this late at night and the KEY WAS GONE!”


The writing process of Hide-a-Key has been a rather unique one - care to elaborate?


I used to frequent an amazing writer-centric website called Movie Poet, until its founder, Chris Messineo had to shut it down to dedicate his time and considerable talents to The NJ Film School, (I’m not affiliated with this school at all, I just think it’s awesome so you should check it out). Anywhoo, as the website shut down, the writers kinda scattered to the wind and started winding up in odd social media places… like the proverbial old bit-coin penny…   When I got the idea for Hide-A-Key, I figured, you know, I have a series of film clips depicting this intruder messing with this family, so why not just put the call out there for people to submit scripts. I gave them the basic premise and then said “go for it”. And then the scripts started coming in and I instantly knew that a) I had a winner because this is the most fucked up stuff I’ve ever read, and b) I’m going to need money for this because I’m going to have to pay people to let me do this stuff to them… because this is the most fucked up stuff I’ve ever read! (Is it getting annoying that I’m doing this a…b… things? I can try to stop…)


What can you tell us about Hide-a-Key's approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out-gore and the like)?


Can I just say, YES to all of those? That sounds great! I think, as a horror junkie, I’m trying to make the ultimate horror flick for ME… the stuff that I want to see… the experience that I want to come out of… what I think is missing in a lot of horror movies in the modern time… Rob Zombie notwithstanding, a lot of horror has drifted into safe, predictable cutesy PG-fucking-13 realms and it’s just very rare to go see a movie NOT directed by Rob Zombie and come out of it with, what I think HORROR does best: fucking catharsis… the, as the ancient Greeks would do literally, vomiting up of emotions based on a shared experience with a group of people. Horror should expose us to the things were are actually terrified of and through that, we can see in ourselves that we are all the same and not alone and maybe we can let go of some of the things we’re holding in. And that is a tall fucking order for a movie to pull off… but to do that, you have to be willing to go to places that make people uncomfortable. That is my goal… I want to make something that feels real… something that… listen, I am easily scared… STARTLED actually… meaning if I’m watching something and the obligatory IT’S JUST A CAT in the closet moment hits, I’m the dude who is going to scream the loudest at that… but then I feel cheated because you have merely startled me… you have not SCARED me. When I saw Silence of the Lambs for the first time, when Clarice Starling is in Buffalo Bill’s basement and the lights go out… there was a feeling that came over me… the heart races the pulse quickens… sitting up in the seat, not wanting to watch… genuine dread. Same thing (I may get some shit for this but It’s true so shuttayouface) I got when watching The Blair Witch Project for the first time and even that last moment in the original Paranormal Activity. I’m having a genuine moment of terror. Of dread. THAT is what I want from Hide-A-Key. Yes, we are going to have boobs and shocks a plenty and tons of gore like you have never seen before… but ultimately I want you to experience what this poor father is going through… as he watches these video clips and it dawns on him what is really happening… I want you to kiss that hopeless feeling of true dread. That would be the ideal.  That was a very long answer….


For a film like Hide-a-Key, the location seems to be (bad pun ahead) key - so what can you tell us about yours?


Well it’s MY house. And it still makes me a little nervous… true story… I’ve never in my life and I’m an old fuck fallen down a flight of stairs. NEVER. Not once. In the first month of living in my new house I fell down TWO sets of stairs. The second time carrying a full glass of water… and that will wake your ass right the fuck up… It’s a gorgeous house and we love it. But there are times, when I kinda feel like it’s out to get me. Like the Amityville Horror but with an asshole house and not a murder house. But it’s old, from the 30s and it’s all creaky and there are lots of really cool angles and stuff. I imagine a lot of this movie, beside my cheapness, has to do with my trying to exorcise a few of my fears. But trust me, the house will scare you. My wife, on our first night there… after making fun of me for WEEKS about my telling her I was eeked out by it… woke me up saying “what’s that noise”


Do talk about the intended overall look and feel of your movie!


Okay, I’m going to cop to it… there are going to be some aspects of “found footage” in this… hey wait… where are you going!!! I know I know… believe me I KNOW. And you know, fuck that… I’m not even going to call this found footage. Because no one is finding this footage… this footage is being shoved down our poor guy’s throat. In fact, I’m not even calling it found footage. This is the world’s greatest FORCED FOOTAGE movie. So yeah. There’s that. A lot of this is hacked security cams and hidden camera and handheld POV stuff, but then we are shooting a lot of the connecting scenes with a RED. So it’s going to be a hodge podge. Some grainy shaky stuff with HD crisp clean security footage, but then also like normal film looking stuff. On a side note, if you are a genius DP, give me a shout.


Anything you can tell us about your cast yet?


Only that they are fucking amazing. I’ve locked down three actors… all people I love dearly and thank my lucky stars that they aren’t busy this Thanksgiving! See there’s a trick for you budding film makers out there… shoot your movies around lame holidays where people might have a bunch of time off but don’t really get to open presents and it’s like manna from talent heaven! If you check out the campaign page you can see the updated casting info.


Hide-a-Key is presently still in its fundraising stages, right? So do talk about your campaign for a bit! - I’m taking a slightly different approach this time around (‘tis my second campaign) and doing my absolute best to make it so that any horror fans can get a chance to see the movie. At this point I am trying to find like-minded sickos that want to see the film. And I’m making it crazy affordable. For a measly five smackers, you can see the film. That’s slightly less than a pay per view (of a first run feature also in theaters and slightly more than a regular pay per view). And we have a ton of other fun stuff… DVDs, shirts, you can adopt one of the security cameras and actually get raw footage from the movie that nobody else will ever see… we have a few really special ones including the ultimate Hide-A-Key experience where someone will leave a hide a key at your house with a memory stick version of the movie. (for some of you, that someone will be the mailman… but if you live in New Jersey… who knows). But the best thing is that any contribution, even a dollar, will get you full access to all of our behind the scenes shenanigans. Shenanigans for a dollar? Fancy that! Oh… and for a very limited time, check out our Stranger Danger bonus upgrade… the first 5 people we don’t personally know who contribute will get a super secret bonus upgrade.


Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule - and any idea, however tentatively, when and where the film might be released yet?


Shooting this Thanksgiving with the goal of festival submissions starting in the early spring and then… we’ll see. I’d love to get into a nice horror fest or two or four or ten.


Any future projects beyond Hide-a-Key?


Hide-A-Key is actually an interim project that came up while I was doing pre-production on another feature film, The Soul Garden. I’m looking to get back to that once Hide-A-Key is in the proverbial can (you can check it out at my website, I am about to launch a webseries I did with my best bud, called Meantime (check out the trailer here: Right now I’m kinda feeling very lucky because a lot of stuff is coming together at once. Plus my twins, Maggie and Zack are about to turn three and I hear that’s when they start actively trying to drive you mad so there’s that…


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I grew up in the 80s. I had one of the first VCRs in my neighborhood and yes that made me feel cool. I grew up in the golden age of (pre-Blockbuster) movie rentals… every Friday taking my allowance to Video Box Office in Waycross, GA and watching non-stop movies all weekend. I kinda ack-basswards fell into directing… the first school I went to didn’t have a film program so I chose the next best thing (right?), Theatre, and took that journey all the way through an MFA in Acting of all things. And looking back on it now, I’m glad I went through that path even though it did take me a long time to start doing my own flicks. Coming into filmmaking, writing, producing and all that jazz AFTER being an actor I think gives me a nice perspective on things. But I always made short films and stuff throughout my gloriously misspent youth.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Hide-a-Key?


I’ve made many movies, 3 features and 20-ish shorts. Two of those features will never see the light of day but you can watch my “official” first film, F**k New York (OFFICIAL selection at the Queens World and Hoboken International Film Festivals woot woot!) right here for FREE:  

You can catch my shorts on my YouTube channel, but please don’t watch Battleact. Seriously. Don’t watch it!


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I try to be as unobtrusive as possible. I cast and hire geniuses and then let them be brilliant. I think the director’s job is to find themes and through lines and then craft a series of moving images to illicit a prescribed response… one doesn’t need to be all precious about it…


Filmmakers who inspire you?


From a horror perspective, pound for pound you just don’t get any better than Rob Zombie. David Cronenberg is probably my “if I could BE any other director” director. He is just fucking brutal and brilliant. I saw Videodrome with a group of kids at some band function… no...  MARCHING band (told you I was cool) and I remember them all running around going “the Videodrome problem” like making fun of it but I was all like “long live the new flesh” and they totally didn’t get it. I don’t know why I just remembered that. But I love him. I love Robert Rodriguez and am always inspired by him… true maverick. But I suppose if I had to pick a favorite/mentor kinda guy, it’s Lloyd Kaufman? How could it not be. He’s the fucking king.


Your favourite movies?


I am a Friday the 13th-series FREAK and love them all… every single cotton picking one of them… yep even THAT one (so what if he was only in Manhattan for like 20 minutes?). Actually we cold probably be here all day if I don’t curb my enthusiasm but I love 80s horror… the slasher stuff: Dorm that Dripped Blood, Happy Birthday to Me, My Bloody Valentine… but I will also watch pretty much anything that Cecil from Good Bad Flicks recommends. But if you really want to know, my all time favorite movie is Joe Versus the Volcano.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


None of them, really. I really try (try being the operative word here) to not bash other people’s stuff because, look… it’s really fucking HARD to make a movie and if you can put one together and pull something out of the ether and make it tangible and in the end have an actual movie… well that is a fucking miracle in itself and I applaud you. Yeah, everything doesn’t speak to me but if you have made your movie, that’s a fucking victory. Having said that…I will cop to thinking that all cynical art is a crock of shit.


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@quitefilm at Twitter.


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


You were very thorough and I thank you for that.


Thanks for the interview!


No. Thank YOU. This was awesome.


© 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
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