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An Interview with David V.G. Davies, Director of Monitor

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2011

David V.G. Davies on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming film Monitor - in a few words, what is it about?


Monitor is a horror thriller where Alice, a young delinquent, is institutionalised at the Damocles Foundation - but she soon has to put aside her problems as the staff have their own issue to work out.


Now where did the concept of Monitor's Damocles Foundation, a wannabe humanitarian organisation with sinister motives, originate from?


While at a hospital with a broken bone the so-called expert who tended me filled me with zero confidence, from that moment on the phrase "What happens when Malpractice becomes Intentional?" stuck in my head and it later became one of the tag lines for the film.


It lead me to develop the Damocles Foundation for the Monitor script, more directly what if all employees of a facility were evil and abusing our trust?

The name Damocles comes originally from the Greek legend concerning the sword of Damocles and was the basis of an in-joke I shared with my Grandfather, he was a great follower of my pursuit in to the film industry and when he died I felt it only fitting to incorporate it somehow into my project.


Other sources of inspiration for Monitor?


Monitor originally started off on paper as a sequel to Animal Soup (my first feature) and was to be called Cold Harbor, but soon progressed moving away from the Shock Horror genre and more towards Thriller. Numerous rewrites and several nods to Alice in Wonderland later there was the 45 page script called Alice. More rewrites and eventually a 67 page script called Monitor emerged. There are still elements of Alice in Wonderland and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, both of which are favorite stories of mine, I even cast Victoria Broom in Monitor to play a character similar to that of Louise Fletcher's from Cuckoo's Nest, Vic did a fantastic job and there are moments where she really scared me.


How would you describe your directorial approach to your subject matter?


Yana Kolesnyk

I have a vision in my head and know how to get it done. I've been told I work in chaos, but I disagree. There is method in my madness, I know what I want and I know what I need to do I will put my mind into that of the viewer and pick at everything. Whenever working on a film I try and stay clear of watching and films as I do not want to have any outside influences trying to affect my vision.


A few words about your leading lady Yana Kolesnyk, how did you find her and what made her the perfect choice for the role?


I've known Yana for a while as she was friends with one of the actresses from Animal Soup, she helped us to promote that film back in 2008 before the film gained its distribution deal.

The role of Alice was written with Yana in mind, she's an attractive girl who looks like she could kick your arse! She's a strong willed, somewhat stubborn person who was literally the perfect inspiration during the early writing stage.


Yana Kolesnyk

I'm a huge fan of the strong woman in film going back to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien and Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil-films. I feel a strong female role is something that is a very firm staple of the horror genre and something I definitely wanted to include in the film.

She did have a tendency to burst into song between takes and it was always something by Lady Gaga, she was always at the front of any comedy moment and there was never a dull moment on set with her around. I will have to edit together a little bonus feature of her just for fun.


Monitor also features American scream queen Suzi Lorraine [Suzi Lorraine interview - click here] in a supporting role. Now how did you get her and what was it like working with her?


with Suzi Lorraine

Suzi is fantastic, I met her while working at GoreZone Magazine and she has become a great friend, she is amazing to work with, she has a delicate innocent presence about her and you'd never think she could be evil, but when the cameras rolled she turned and became the nasty piece of work I wanted. She has an extensive resume of horror films and is quite often the victim but I wanted her to be a criminal mastermind and she was amazing. I have a fantastic sequence which we shot in Central Park where she is really angry and full of emotion for the scene, but as soon as I call cut a huge smile forms and it just proved to me what a fantastic actress she is. I've since gone on to work with her again on Three's a Shroud and I highly recommend you check out her film Won Ton Baby, it's definitely worth seeing and shows off her multitude of talents.


A few words about the rest of your cast and crew?


I have been very lucky with both my cast and crew, I held a casting call and saw a few actors and actresses for several of the parts of the movie, I was originally going to play one character myself but on seeing a girl perform a screen test for a different role, I changed the script and made the character a woman and it added so much to the narrative.


Rami Hilmi I will definitely work with again he is an amazing actor and brings to the table a whole list of talents and he helped a lot with coaching the other performers, some of which have never acted in the past. Victoria Broom asked me if I had a role and again she is an amazing actress and a great pleasure to have on set. Everyone who is in Monitor has a passion for film and for some they have told me it was a dream come true working on some of the scenes - even all the crew members had cameos within the film, I'd love to mention everyone who has appeared on screen as well as all those behind it as not only have they become colleagues but family, and we will all work together again.


For some elements of the movie I required CCTV footage of patients and I opened this up to the followers on facebook and had a tremendous influx of footage all of which appears in the movie so not only the chosen cast but the fans make it into the movie as well.


In the period of post-production of the film tragedy did strike with our special effects artist Peter Kinman who passed away, He was a great friend of mine who I'd known for many years, he and I worked closely on this project and out of respect for him the film has been dedicated to his memory.


Since there are many gorehounds among my readers - what can you tell us about the violence in your movie?


Primarily the film is a more narrative based film than relying on shocks, but I am true to my roots and do have some horrific moments, Pete and I would sit up for hours trying to work out what horrible scenes we could achieve on the budget and with the exception of one we never got to film I'm sure they will please a gore fan, one scene in particular was definitely uneasy to watch when we shot it.

I want to keep some mystery so I cannot tell you about each kill but in one scene inspired by the audition tape sequence from Fame, we have a topless model being filmed for the killers own perversions but all is not titillation.

Lauren, who plays the victim, sits half naked and is repeatedly stabbed for the killer's pleasure. This was shot on day 5 of our 18 day shoot with five cameras and used 3 liters of blood. As soon as the scene cut, I took a photograph of Lauren and the poster was born


The $64-question of course: When and where will Monitor be released, tentatively?


The film has taken some time in the edit, I had originally planned for the film to premiere in London November 5th 2011, but have had to teach myself several new techniques and software in order to achieve the look and feel I desired along with having a full time job. But rest assured as I write this the film is 98% complete with just the final colour grading to take place. It will then be heavily advertised online with an exclusive web clip and sent to world wide festivals as well as a tour around the UK.


Let's go back to your beginnings for a bit: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


From a very young age I was amazed by the film process, my first cinema experience being Return of the Jedi in 1983 when I was only 5, I was in awe. My parents fondly tell me that I would sit in front of the television spellbound by all genres of film and I'd be trying to work out how things were done. I remember being particularly captivated by The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, I have always wanted to make a fantasy puppet based film so watch this space.

On leaving school I studied art and photography, then media and eventually got a degree in new media making numerous short film projects but spending more time on the structural side of editing and platforms such as the Internet and CD Rom.

The actual process of filmmaking has been very much on-the-job training for me as the course I enrolled on at university was poorly structured and didn't really teach me what I would have liked so I took it upon myself to learn everything I could through trial and error. I highly recommend working as a runner and watching as many 'making of' documentaries as possible as they give you so many insights to the filmmaking process, also in particular, listen to Eli Roth's director's commentary on both Cabin Fever and Hostel, very insightful.


An early short of yours has the beautiful title Rumbleguts. You just have to talk about that one for a bit!


Rumbleguts was something that was born out of a joke where my girlfriend at the time was laying on me asleep and the noises from my stomach woke her up and she accused me of being "some kind of monster", so one evening I decided to make her a film where I play a man who is tormented by a noise he thinks is outside but turns out to be far closer. It was shot in one evening with no crew, just myself and my camera. It started as a joke but turned out as a nice little comedy horror and very much a festival pleaser.


What can you tell us about your debut feature Animal Soup?


It was about two years after I graduated that a fellow graduate sent me a script and wanted my help tweaking it. I loved it so much I became co-creator and helped the film with all aspects of the production.

Animal Soup was an exercise to prove that you don't need a huge crew or mountains of cash to make a film. We also wanted to push the boundaries of taste and really offend the viewer. The film was unfortunately hindered with cast drop-outs leading to numerous rewrites. What evolved was a 83 minute trash fest that cost £1,200 to make. We punted the film around and had many reviews all stating how offensive the movie is. We also were commended on the fact we lure the audience into thinking they will see female nudity and then shock them with male nudity. Being a firm believer that nudity is a cliché in horror we wanted to switch it. We also felt that stereotypically its men who will not look away during a horror film so we wanted to achieve that and if that meant showing a male penis full screen then so be it.

After a year and a few more reviews I re-cut the movie to a faster paced 67 minutes and it was granted a distribution deal. I recently met with the co-creator and we have been thinking of doing a director's commentary and releasing a 10 year anniversary edition with all the extras and outtakes as there are so many


Recently, you have also directed several episodes of the gameshow GZ Celebrity Ghost Hunt. What can you tell us about the concept of this show, and how (if at all) does working on a TV show differ from making movies?


We started with the Movie Massacre-series - 8 episodes of Emily Booth ripping the piss out of indie films followed by a making of-episode, a DVD game and then a live film fest special.

I took over writing duties from episode 5 and really enjoyed being writer/director on that series, writing would take 3 days and we would shoot two episodes in an 8 hour schedule, it would then be a three week turnaround on editing - so it was a very fast experience compared to features.

On the series I worked closely with Emily Booth and by the end of the series we were both sad to let it go, we both would love to revisit that format again and fingers crossed it will still happen.

The second series for GZ was the Celebrity Ghost Hunts - unfortunately it was not taken seriously by some Celebrity Guests, but on the third shoot it was really intense, we had tables move and voices heard, it was a chilling experience that could have become a great series had it, along with the magazine, not been axed.

I have gone on to make a few other paranormal investigation DVDs since the days at GZ and have definitely become hooked on ghost hunting.


You are also currently working on a segment for the anthology movie Three's a Shroud, right? What can you tell us about that project, and how did it come into being to begin with?


Three's a Shroud

behind the scenes

Forest of the Damned 2

While at GoreZone I was checking out indie filmmakers and searching out talent. I met Dan Brownlie [Dan Brownlie interview - click here] at a screening of one of his films and he mentioned he'd heard of Animal Soup and wanted to make an anthology. I told him that idea interested me and to keep me in mind. We were joined by Andy Edwards who has made a series of zombie shorts, and we all wrote a short film that would be linked by a babysitter sequence. My section is born out of a love of Twilight Zone, it centers around a photographer who has an unhealthy obsession for a model but his insecurities force his emotions to take on a form of their own. It stars Emily Booth, Eleanor James who is amazing, Emma Lock from Human Centipede 2, and Michael Gyekye who did a fantastic performance of a guy losing his mind. The wrap around story stars Suzi Lorraine [Suzi Lorraine interview - click here] and Dani Thompson, who I had both worked with on Monitor so it was great to see them again.


Any other films/TV shows of yours you'd like to talk about? Any future projects?


I have so much on its way, it's only moments like this where I list everything that it even shocks me, I have a six part vampire web eries, a vampire short, a werewolf feature, a comedy, I've also been working on Forest of the Damned 2 and a few other horror projects both shorts and features so it looks like I'm going to be busy for some time to come which I can definitely not complain about.


with Emily Booth

Over the years, you have worked quite frequently with British horror veteran Emily Booth. What can you tell us about her and working with her?


I can honestly say I love Emily Booth, she is so much fun to work with and I class myself very privileged to have done so on so many occasions. I used to watch her on TV and think, I'd love to work with her, she seems so cool and in real life she really is, I could never want to work with a better person, shes very sexy and really funny, there is never a dull moment when she is on set, she knows how both studio and indie shoots work and she is no trouble on set, she even helps out with carrying equipment and giving advice when needed. I have so many fond memories of working with her where we would stop and tell jokes or she'd put on an accent and make us all laugh. I even have a script idea in mind for her - when I get a chance to write it that is.


Apart from directing and writing, you have also assumed almost every other position in filmmaking one time or another, including acting, producing, editing, cinematography, and so on. What do you like the most, which could you do without?


I never wanted to be a director but I have enjoyed it, definitely more so on the short projects, but my passion is editing and writing. I'm fed up with Hollywood kicking out remake after remake and want to show that there are original ideas out there if only someone would give indie films the platform they deserve.

I definitely am not an actor but again have enjoyed the experience I'd like to have a little cameo here and there so if anyone wants a tubby bald fella to pop up in a film I am available.


Most of your films are of the horror variety one way or another. A genre especially dear to you, and why?


I do indeed love horror, I have to admit though, it was not originally my first intentional preferred genre, I like fantasy sci fi but there is a reason people start in horror and it boils down to money. Horror films can be shot with a lot less money than other genres and do not need a big name or fancy locations to carry them. But it's not until you work on horror that you realise how much fun it is, I cant wai't to sit back and watch the final cut of a film I recently worked on and say "that blood spray was me or that dismembered hand is me under fake floor". I do want to branch out of horror and do have a few projects in mind, but I will always love horror and have many more explorations to make in that area.


Directors who inspire you?


I have so many but in no particular order there are a few that stand out over the others, David Cronenberg, David Fincher, Tony Scott, Guillermo del Toro, Alex Proyas and Peter Jackson.


Your favourite movies?


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I love Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, House of 1000 Corpses, the Child's Play series, Enemy of the State, Friday the 13th Part 3, Alien 3 (director's cut), and on TV the Spartacus series has been amazing.


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


Anything with Will Ferrell (sorry dude, but you annoy the hell out of me), The Ring US remake, actually most US remakes of perfectly good foreign originals, stop doing it USA, we don't need inferior remakes! Some remakes are good though, but not many.


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

Twitter: @filmMA


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?


I think I've gone on too much already ha ha.


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.


There's No Such Thing as Zombies
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry


directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke


now streaming at


Amazon UK





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