Get us in your inbox

David Fussell, director of 'Mystic Demon Killer'
Photograph: Andy Parsons

This homeless Londoner made a feature film while sleeping rough

Written by
Thomas Hobbs

David Fussell is no ordinary film director: he edited and released his debut feature while sleeping in a doorway on Tottenham Court Road. This is his story…

‘People don’t realise how easy it is to become homeless. You could lose your job or a family member could die, and that’s literally all it takes. For me, it was a flood which severely damaged my home back in Wales. The insurance only covered the contents and I couldn’t afford to repair the house. My parents both died around the same time, so I didn’t have many people to turn to.

‘After leaving the house behind, I used the little money I had left to start filming an action-horror feature film. “Mystic Demon Killer” is influenced by horror movies such as “Hellraiser” and “Dog Soldiers”, and is about the government trying to keep a lid on these humanoid super-soldiers. I filmed it in the Welsh countryside and kept the footage on a hard drive. By 2013, I didn’t have much left to my name, so I decided to come to London with just the clothes on my back, hoping that someone there would help me to edit and finish the film.

‘To start with, I only had one set of clothes and I slept on a piece of cardboard. Other homeless people were very kind and generous: they gave me clothes, shared their food and let me know where I could go to get a sleeping bag and a hot meal. The West London Day Centre helped me to get some structure in my life. I managed to get a part-time job and saved up for a secondhand MacBook Pro and a microphone, in order to do track-laying and final edits. The people at the day centres hear all sorts of stories from the homeless, and I’m sure they thought I was crazy when I told them I was directing a movie, but I always kept the faith.

‘I ended up losing the job, but that gave me more time to focus on the film. A charity let me use their computers to edit it. I had all this expensive equipment in my backpack and when I wasn’t carrying it, I would leave it with my homeless mates who made sure nobody stole it! They were my protectors. I guess you could call them the film’s executive producers.

‘Then the media company Vice found out about my story from a local newspaper, and that changed my life. They helped me distribute the film and even hosted a screening which I was able to invite my homeless mates along to. I’m sleeping in the doorway outside Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road, yet have a feature film to my name. Not bad, huh? I guess I want to show the public that homeless people have dreams too.

‘I’m already thinking about my next project. One idea I have is a film where two homeless people save a city from great danger. People in the city think they are the problem, but they actually end up being the solution. I think it could be very successful and I’ll do everything that I can in order to get it made. In the meantime, I’m hoping the film makes enough money for me to live on a boat. That’s my dream.’

Watch ‘Mystic Demon Killer’ on Vimeo and the documentary ‘The Homeless Film Director’ on Vice.

For more unique London voices, sign up here to get Time Out features straight to your inbox.

Popular on Time Out

    You may also like
    You may also like