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An Interview with Oliver Cane, Director of Eyes and Prize

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2019

Films directed by Oliver Cane on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Eyes and Prize - in a few words, what is it about?


It’s about a few fame hungry people who are taken in by an online presence purporting to be a brand-new reality show. They put their lives in the hands of this unknown person, or people, and are slowly forced to reckon with the situation they find themselves in.


With Eyes and Prize being about a Big Brother-like reality TV show (even if mock), what are your personal thoughts on that genre, and to what extent are they reflected in the film?


I think Big Brother was interesting when it first came out. But then, after a few years, once the contestants knew how the show worked, they knew how to work the show, and it became a contest to see who the biggest and brashest character could be. So instead of it being real people in a place with cameras, it became more like people acting up characters, trying to be extreme for the sake of the show. The people in the film are aware of what a reality show can do for their potential career as a D list celebrity, they know this as they enter, and so it begins with the characters almost putting on an extreme version of themselves as they try to satiate the show’s expectations of them.


Other sources of inspiration when writing Eyes and Prize?


I would say that something like Funny Games and Lars von Trier’s documentary The Five Obstructions probably helped me with the bass line of the idea.


As a director, to what extent could you actually identify with the film's "puppeteer" James? And which character in your movie could you actually identify with the most and the least?


Yes, I have had people pick up on the connection between me as the director and James the “puppeteer”. It’s true, there is somewhat of a link there and it works in a sort of Russian Doll type way. He appears to be there simply watching them, keeping them in check; the fact that he has to keep them in check means that he is more of a director than a viewer. I feel like I can identify with all of them, despite James’ extreme methods, I could understand how someone who is a social outsider could be fascinated to relate in the way that he does.


Eyes and Prize is restricted to a single location - so where was it filmed actually, and what were the challenges of keeping things interesting being thus confined?


We built the set inside a warehouse. All filmed in Bristol, UK. The keeping things interesting was a very nice challenge for me. It’s a case of being in the characters’ shoes and what would they do to keep things interesting, and for how long could they stand being in there with no messages from the outside, and what would they do when they try to rebel and try to leave.


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


The film is made up of very long takes, so I chose to prepare the actors almost as if we were to be putting on a stage play.


What can you tell us about Eyes and Prize's key cast, and why exactly these people?


It took me a long time to find the right people. They needed to be brave, to be open and to be up for this crazy idea of conversational dialogue in very long takes. I guess I had to feel like I could trust that they could do it.


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


It was a 23-day shoot and we generally spent one day per shot. So, daily, we would be repeating and repeating the shot until about 17:00 when we would then aim for the take that will be the one to be used in the final film.


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


Sure, we just received our iTunes pre-order link -


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Eyes and Prize?


It’s not a normal film. Personally, I don’t want to make film that fits easily into an already made groove. Because of this, watching it will be in some ways challenging. And so to some extent it is a divisive film, but generally speaking, the reception has been good.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I’m a fan of brutalist industrial settings. Something’s cooking on that hob.


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


I studied English at university and was a part-time, unpaid, writer. I naturally gravitated to film because it’s the ultimate way to tell a story. In what other circumstance can you get someone to just sit and stare for 90 minutes? I did return to study film production on a further two year course.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Eyes and Prize?


Mainly short films. I have also made a pilot for a TV series that I’ve co-written.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Try to be fair. Dictated to by the script. Always trying to do things better than I did before.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Loads. So, I’ll name just three contemporary inspirational filmmakers for me:  Ruben Ostlund, Ben Wheatley, Yorgos Lanthimos.


Your favourite movies?


My favourite film of all time is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb.


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


Hard to say. I’m not a fan of popcorn movies that try to wring out sentiment from an unauthentic place.


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


Thanks for the interview and for checking out Eyes and Prize!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
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out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


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