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

This homeless Londoner made a feature film while sleeping rough

By Thomas Hobbs
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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.

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