Your new movie Exit
- in a few words, what is it about?
is about two couples from different social and cultural backgrounds who,
as a consequence of a double booking, have to spend the night together. As
sex, drugs and violence are added to proceedings, things rapidly spiral out
What were your
sources of inspiration when coming up with the concept for Exit?
scriptwriter Mathew Bayliss) and myself had been speaking about
making a feature for a while. The only restrictions that we placed upon
ourselves were that we would only have a small ensemble cast and as far as
was possible, the narrative should be set in a single location. During the
writing process the whole European Referendum was happening in the UK, and
inevitably this had a significant bearing upon the initial script.
planning the visuals and storyboarding Exit, I revisited the films which
have been something of an inspiration to my own filmmaking. Notably
Performance (UK,1970) and Black Narcissus (UK, 1947). Both films are for
the most part set in a location that is separate or cut off from the real
world. In this insular space, the characters then confront things about
themselves in an atmosphere which is dreamlike and often hallucinatory.
Jack Cardiffís cinematography is incredible in Black Narcissus, and when
planning the lighting set ups for Exit
I looked again at his work.
can you tell us about Exit's
screenwriter Mathew Bayliss, and what was your collaboration like?
wrote the original outline for Exit
and we both worked on the script. We
have worked together on several short films, so we know how each other
likes to work. The original premise that we set ourselves was for a story
set in one location. The perfect starting point for a BREXIT-inspired
horror film! Having said that, I donít want to be too specific over the
meanings and potential interpretations of Exit. This is something that
Iíd like to leave up to the audience.
Exit is very associative
in its narration and the storytelling isn't always exactly linear - so how
easy or hard was it to not just lose your plot making a movie that way?
the narrative of Exit
may not be exactly linear, the plot is essentially a
straight forward one and avoiding spoilers here, itís about a person
attempting to extricate themselves from a situation. Once the characters
arrive at the house, I wanted them to lose themselves within a space that
releases or brings to the surface aspects of their personalities. I like
the dream logic of surrealist films, such as Maya Derenís Meshes of the
Afternoon (US, 1947), which was another key influence on Exit. By creating
a film which is challenging in its narrative structure and is associative
rather than linear, you give the audience a degree of latitude in their
own interpretations. Whilst I donít believe in being obtuse for the sake
of it, I think that narratives should maintain an element of ambiguity.
For example, conventional wisdom when writing onscreen characters is that
everyone should have clear and transparent motivation. Why? Many people in
the real world
have no clear motivation beyond self preservation or will often keep their
motifs obscured in their dealings with others.
can you tell us about Exit's
approach to horror?
am a horror movie fan. and I love how the horror genre is so diverse and
vast in the array of subgenres that it encompasses. The horror genre
explores fears and the uncertainties of the world around us. In many
has many elements of the traditional haunted house movie
about it: In as far as a group of people find themselves in an eerie place
with a history. The house exerts an influence over the inhabitants and
strange things happen. However, as with all films in this horror sub
genre, events are something of a combination of the place and the problems
that those involved bring with them. Personally, I think the more
interesting horror films are those that blend genres or indeed challenge
standard generic conventions. I particularly like films such as Jonathon
Glazerís Under the Skin (UK, 2014) for this.
is mostly restricted to just one apartment, locationwise - so what were
your techniques to keep things visually interesting throughout?
is a challenge for any single location movie. If you are forcing your
audience to look at magnolia coloured walls for the duration of your film,
they are going to lose interest pretty quickly. I wanted to give a sense
of the house as being dynamic and reactive to what was happening with the
characters. I like the way directors such as Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here] and Dario Argento
use coloured gels to create different tones to scenes in their films. This
was something that I decided to apply in Exit. Therefore, as narrative
events become more ramped up, the colour palette becomes more intense.
Also, I spent a lot of time thinking about the kinds of pictures and props
that I wanted in the house. If itís in the frame it should carry
meaning. Pretty much everything that appears onscreen in Exit has
significance and relates directly to narrative events.
few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
guess for me directing is that old problem of trying to get the film that
is in your head on to the screen. During pre-production I always try to
pre-visualise and storyboard the scenes as far as possible. However, when
it comes to being on set, I donít believe in over-directing. I trust
actors and their interpretations of their characters. In many respects
this is where casting is so important. We really took our time casting
actors for Exit. We had a pretty intense shooting schedule and we needed
actors who would be able to cope with this. Invariably though when you are
on set, you have to adapt in terms of the location and your schedule, and
this is where you have to rely upon your actors to be reactive. Iím
really happy with the performances that all our actors gave.
also appear in front of the camera in Exit
- so what can you tell us about your character, what did you draw upon to
bring him to life, and has he been conceived with yourself in mind from
yes. I play a character in Exit
who goes simply by the moniker ďMan on
the PhoneĒ. He can best be described as ďan interested partyĒ in the
events that take place in the house. After screenings, Iíve been asked
quite a bit as to what or who he is meant to represent. Chatting with
people, Iíve heard some really interesting interpretations, including
one really intriguing Freudian oneÖ As I mentioned earlier, I donít
believe in mapping out everything for an audience. Things lose their
interest and mystery when they are explained. A dream may perplex us but
we accept that it will always remain unknowable.
Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why
exactly these people?
couldnít be happier with the cast that we put together for Exit. We had
some pretty long days and the actors all supported each other and really
worked together to develop the final characters we see on the screen. When
casting, I donít just look to cast for the role, Iím looking for
people who Iíll be able to work and collaborate with. The same is true
of the crew. A film set is a collective and there are times when things
will get pretty intense, you need people who can deal with this. It may
sound like a cliche, but we really did become like a big family.
cast the actors who play Michelle (Leonarda Sahani), Steve (Billy James
Machin) and Adrienne (Charlotte Gould) via an audition process. We were
determined to get actors who would be believable as couples and I feel we
achieved this. We approached Chris (Christophe Delesques) ourselves after
seeing his show reel and Iím glad that we did. He brought something
special to the character, who coincidently is also called Christophe!
Chrisís character in the film is one whose motivations, initially at
least, seem unclear, and I think he really was able to convey what I saw
as the the agent provocateur nature of Christophe.
lead female protagonist Michelle is played by Leonarda Sahani, who
deserves a special mention for the levels of emotional intensity that she
brought to her performance. Leonarda has no formal training and hadnít
acted before. We were so impressed by her audition that we had to take the
chance. To give a first time actor such a major part was a gamble, but
Iím really glad that we did.
were also extremely lucky to have Tony Denham come on board in the role of
sinister estate agent Russell Bone. He has such an amazing screen presence,
and having seen him in films like The Football Factory (UK, 2004) and
the Name of the Father (UK, 1994) I knew that heíd bring an authentic
level of true London grit to the role. I always wanted his character to
have a degree of menace to it and Tony really delivered.
we were casting for the role of Moe, I ran into an old mate of mine, Rob
(actor Robert Alexander), quite by chance. The Moe character is another of
the figures who we find in the house whose motives are never entirely
clear. Again, Rob really nailed the creepy, unsettling, WTF, otherworldly
nature of the Moe character that I was looking for.
What can you tell us about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
filming for Exit took place in London over a seven day period in Summer
2018. It was unseasonably hot throughout initial filming, and at times
there were up to seventeen of us all crammed into a small space. I do
think however this sense of claustrophobia does translate to the screen!
We then had one additional dayís filming to shoot exteriors and pick up
shots. However, because I wanted to shoot the exteriors in winter,
we then went from filming in the heat to working in the damp and freezing
cold several months later. All our actors always responded without
complaint, and it is because of their dedication to the cause that we have
the film that we do.
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
is currently on the film festival circuit and is available at all good
film festivals! The next two confirmed screenings that we have are at The
Paracinema Cinema Film Festival (paracinema.co.uk), in Derby, UK
August 7th-9th and in the US at The Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Festival
June 11th-14th. Clearly the Covid-19 outbreak is causing many festivals to be rescheduled but if you can, check
out these great film festivals as and when.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Exit?
from festival audiences to Exit
has been extremely positive and Iím
really happy with the reviews that weíve been getting. The associative
style and aesthetic of Exit
is something which I think has the potential
to divide audiences. If you create films that challenge mainstream
conventions, there will always be this risk. However, thus far people seem
to like what weíve produced and get where we are coming from
future projects you'd like to share?
currently working on a number of projects, no spoilers yetÖ
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
up in the 1980s, some of my earliest film memories are watching movies on a
Saturday and Sunday afternoon on the BBC. They mainly showed British films
from the 1940s and 1950s, particularly the work of Michael Powell and
Emeric Pressburger. I remember being amazed the first time that I saw A
Matter of Life and Death (UK, 1946), which I still think is an incredible
movie. Also VCRs were starting to appear in peopleís homes at this time,
and being exposed to all those insane horror movies like Scanners (CN,
1981) and Zombie Flesh Eaters (IT, 1979) really opened up to me the
possibilities of what a film could be in terms of the dark paths that can
be explored. I studied literature, art and film at university but the
practical side of filmmaking I essentially taught myself. Whilst I did
some short courses to help better understand film makeup and VFX
throughout the 1990s and 2000s, everything that I made was pretty much shot
guerrilla style. I solved problems as they presented themselves and then
used that learning on the next film that I made. I also tended to shoot on
whatever equipment was to hand or indeed was the cheapest. These
limitations meant that I was always having to problem-solve and rethink my
approach. The key thing that I learmed was that ideas are the most
important tool for a filmmaker, rather than cutting edge equipment.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Exit?
shooting Exit, I worked largely in the short film medium. However, I guess
many of the themes and ideas from these have found their way into Exit.
Many of the characters from my films tend to be trapped or experiencing
some form of, often, moral paralysis.
They also seem to be somewhat out of step with the worlds in which they
find themselves. In terms of visuals, I really enjoy working with Super
8mm film stock, a number of my early shorts were shot on Super 8mm as was
my more recent short The Ingress Tapes (UK, 2017). Iíd love to
shoot a feature on Super 8mm but the cost is currently prohibitive. Iím
also becoming increasingly nostalgic about Hi8 video which I used to work
on. There is a real subversive quality about its look that I really like.
There is a warmth about these analogue formats that you just donít get
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
of my key influences is Luis BuŮuel. Iíve always admired how he never
compromised and stuck to his vision. Also, as Iíve previously mentioned,
I love Michael Powellís work. For me, heís one of the greatest
filmmakers that the UK ever produced and he is a constant source of
inspiration. Again, Iíve already mentioned Maya Deren and in particular
her film Meshes of the Afternoon. I remember the first time I saw this was
on late night TV. It was shown together with BuŮuelís Un Chien Andalou
(FR, 1929). Together these two films inspired me to pick up a camera and
make my own films. Similarly, discovering the work of mavericks and
renegades like Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noe and Nicolas Roeg & Donald
Cammell, made me realise that the most important thing as a filmmaker is
to walk your own path and tell the stories that you want to tell, no
Your favourite movies?
too many to mention! Movies that I watch regularly would include
Performance (UK, 1970), Black Narcissus (UK 1947), Belle de Jour (FR
1967), Le SamouraÔ (FR, 1967), in fact anything really by Jean Pierre
Melville! Ms. 45 (US, 1981) is another film I could watch daily, or again
anything by Abel Ferrara. Ferrara is a real maverick whose movies span
different genres and subjects but are always compelling. ZoŽ Lund, who
plays the female protagonist in Ms. 45, is incredible. I love the work of
Jean Rollin, particularly his movie Fascination (FR, 1979). Rollinís
films always have an oneiric quality to them. As I mentioned earlier Iím
a horror movie fan, although no movie disturbs me as much as The Wizard of
Oz (US, 1939)Ö
and of course, films you really deplore?
from a ďsuperhero universeĒ. I understand itís a very popular
phenomenaÖ but itís really not my thing. I guess thatís the beauty
of film - dreams for everybody.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
can be reached on the all the usual socials, details below. We are
currently in discussions with distributors in regards to Exit, until then
here is the trailer: https://youtu.be/koWqSn4WwO4
IMDb: Michael Fausti
for the interview!
pleasure chatting with you. Take care and stay safe.