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An Interview with David Noel Bourke, Director of No Right Turn

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2006

David Noel Bourke on (re)Search my Trash


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Your latest movie is No Right Turn, an independent feature produced in Denmark. Could you tell us in a few sentences what it's about?


David Noel Bourke directing

Sure, the main story centers around a character called Monella who has just lost her mother by a freak accident. One night she becomes a reluctant hero and saves a gorgeous girl from two delinquents. They become very close friends, but the girl Nina has many issues of her own especially being tied up with her rock'n'roll dreamer husband Johnny and a sleazy writer Teddy. Nina wants Monella to help her take a hidden stash of money and make a clean break before Johnny invests it in a silly scheme. Monella agrees but getting involved gives more trouble and surpises than she could ever imagine and all the characters come together in what's a crazy twisted finale.


What can you tell us about making the film as such?


The movie was shot in Copenhagen Feb this year, a grueling 5 week shoot it was, we used a small but dedicated 20 man crew. It's the most ambitious project I have ever done yet, a huge step forward from my previous feature Last Exit. Since the movie is set in an mythical almost comic book-like universe, for the city scenes we manufactured special neon light setups to give us the surreal visuals we wanted for the characters and their particular locations. The Monella character lives on the outskirts of the city near the ocean, we shot her scenes mainly in freezing snow, so the cinematography is bleached white for her scenes. We spent a long time, getting all the locations, props, costumes right, it was an extremely demanding shoot.


How would you describe your directorial approach to that picture?


official trailer

Firstly, my mission statement was that we needed to make the best independent movie possible within our means and try to keep any compromises down, this is not always possible of course, but we really pushed for an huge effort in all departments. 

When you make an indie movie, you are up against it so we really aimed for something special with this one. Focus was given on a unique retro look & style. Several weeks before production, I sat down with my cinematographer, production designer and assistant director and discussed in detail the script, its mood, tone and the style overall . Once we agreed on that, we spent some time on preparing a shooting script , visual storylines, character descriptions and motivations etc taking into mind of course the budget we had. Once the actors came on board, I could show them what we planned out and then openly discuss their characters in this particular universe, and what they thought was interesting and needed development - so I basically kept an openly creative forum for everyone, and I think this approach suits a project like this.


from No Right Turn

You also have a website, dealing - among other things - with No Right Turn. What is the URL, and what can people expect?


For general info, you can always visit Currently it contains a few stills and news on our present project No Right Turn. Also you will find all the info you need on our previous feature film Last Exit. There is also some stuff about who we are etc, nothing too fancy and we try to keep it up to date when possible.


You are of Irish descent, and you have also studied Drama & Acting in Australia, yet now you live in Denmark. Why that, and how easy/difficult is it to make an independent film there?


Yes, I was born in Ireland, but don't hold that against me :-)

After dropping out of art college in Ireland, I felt I needed a fresh break, to get away from my routine there. I was writing screenplays but also doing a little acting. I applied for this Drama & Acting school in Australia and got in, so hopped on a plane and went to Sydney. That's where I met my producer wife Catrina (she's Danish - the connection!), and we decided to move back to Denmark and setup our own little production company.  Back in 2001, nobody in Denmark was making indie movies, and the DFI (Danish Film Institute) are extremely tight about giving out any funds, they publicly portray themselves as very open-minded to individual projects, but from I have experienced so far and many other Danish filmmakers would agree they are very safety net oriented and not willing to go to places where they feel is different and challenging. But you need to make your movies no matter what it takes and Copenhagen is a very multicultural city, many different nationalities live here, so it  was relatively easy to get a cast for Last Exit. For No Right Turn, with the help of a budget and a good script, it was straight forward too but we had to work hard to find the right people, no doubt about it making movies is long hard slog at the best of times!


from No Right Turn

How hard is it to get a decent cast for an indie film in Denmark? At least for No Right Turn you were able to hire some name actors, as I understand.


As mentioned before, if you have a strong interesting script, I don't think it's a problem attracting a good cast. The problem is always your budget and its limitations. For No Right Turn, we had time, so we spent 6 months casting, that's a lot for an indie movie, we saw actors form Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Bulgaria, England, and some came over from LA! 

Our material this time around was really our ace card to attract good actors to the project. So after the long casting sessions, I was absolutely delighted with the cast we chose, Laura Bach, Sira Stampe, Tao Hildebrandt, Lars Lippert all have a couple of decent features behind them, Sira acted opposite Kate Winslet in Hideous Kinky, Laura Bach has a movie out in theatres currently and another one on the way, so overall I am very pleased.


As a director, No Right Turn is not your first film, your debut was, as far as I know, Last Exit. Could you tell us a bit about that one?


Last Exit was produced in 2002, which seems like a very long time ago now! For this movie I had empty pockets, literally no money whatsoever, but had access to a camera and a editing suite, so we put a cast together very quickly and shot the movie in two weeks without any crew  - it was documentary style really. We did a lot of work in post though, with music, effects etc.  The movie itself is a dark tale of one man's downfall when he moves from London to Copenhagen, it's my love letter to all the b-movies I watched growing up, it contains a bit of sex, violence, drugs with comedy and horror mixed in - all surrounded by touches of philosophy. The basic storyline is standard enough, but we made sure the execution was a little weird!


As I understand, Last Exit got quite a bit of international acclaim and even regular distribution in several countries ...


You know for a tiny movie made for nothing, its response has been really great. I mean, it got a lot of really great reviews, but of course a few not so good ones too, but you cannot please everyone and that's ok. When we made the movie none of us thought we could do anything with it, it was like, let's make this movie as a taste of what can be done and then let's make a real movie! So when it got out there, that the reaction was generally positive was nice, I was pleasantly surprised it got picked up for distribution in Europe and also in the US. Actually in the US the DVD made a profit for our distributor (Heretic Films) in the first month of its release! So that's always nice to know that your movies can make money. Not that I'm rich now or anything, money is always an issue, but this helped in the development of our second project, now we can have a bigger budget and much better production values for No Right Turn.


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Before embarking on film directing, you spent years as a scriptwriter. What can you tell us about some of the films you wrote?


I wrote some really whacky scripts for sure, without going into details, very surrealistic dramas . One day maybe I will go back to them, but I tend to cringe when I read my old stuff now, because of course you believe your latest stuff is what's the best!


How much has your experience in writing influenced your work as a director, or has your directing experience rather influenced your writing?


Great question! My scripts tend to be sometimes wordy, dialogue-driven, I love dialogue-driven movies in general especially when done right. Recently after directing a few projects, I now try to reduce the words because there is one side of me that says sometimes less words is better,  if you can compose a beautiful visual instead, but it's all a balance and you develop and grow in different ways the more movies you produce. I'm always learning and developing!


Who do you think are your biggest influences as a director?


Lynch, Cronenberg, Scorcese, Solondz, the Coens, Noe, De Palma, Stone, Raimi, I'm also a big Miike fan.


What do you think of the current state of the film industry and of independent filmmaking, and what were some recent films you really liked?


To be honest when you are a filmmaker, you kind of get tied up in making you own projects, so with most of my time is taken up with making movies and being with my family, I really wish I had more time to keep updated on the indepenedent scene. But I know generally it's very hard to get independent movies out into theaters, but the good news is that the DVD market has unleashed a wave of new and old movies that otherwise would never be available. Indie movies like Wolf Creek, Undead, Primer etc are decent enough indie movies, it's always nice to see they are releasing this type of movies theatrically too.


from No Right Turn

... and some you really despised?


You know, I try to see positives in any movie, especially independent movies because I know how really difficult it is to make them! Those movies I mentioned already have their flaws for sure but at least they are getting released and are available and that's a good thing for us guys.


Your all-time favourites?


Barton Fink, Straw Dogs, One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, Waking Life, After Hours, Wild at Heart, to name just a few!


Anything else I forgot to asked or you are just dying to mention?


Yeah, well thanks for all those who supported Last Exit, very grateful for all those open-minded folks  who one way or another helped it get out there. Thanks for the superb cast and crew of our latest movie, No Right Turn, appreciate all their hard work to make it an ambitious movie in scope, style and production,  - very much looking forward to unleashing it to the public! 

And basically thanks everyone for listening.


Thank you for the interview, and good luck with your film.


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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