After the gracious opportunity to review the new film, The Possession Of Michael King, we’ve been fortunate enough to have David Jung, the writer and director of the film, take a little of his time to talk with us a bit about his directorial debut.
LC: Thanks for taking a minute out of your day to speak with us, we really appreciate it!
DJ: Thank you, I’m happy you liked the movie!
LC: I really, really enjoyed [The Possession of Michael King] and I’m just wondering, what inspired you to write and direct about a man being possessed by the demon, because it’s so different than other demonic possession films which seem to be all about women getting possessed?
DJ: Well, a lot of things inspired me. I grew up watching horror movies and the genre, I knew it really well. I’ve been writing movies, in the movie business, for a number of years—I was an executive at Walt Disney Studios and Paramount Studios, and I wanted to direct a movie, and this being my first one, I wanted to do something that felt new, that people could really understand. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of the transformation. I love David Cronenberg’s The Fly, one of my favorite movies (LC: Yes! Excellent film!)—the idea of a man that people can relate to, as he’s travelling into this world of the supernatural, and no one had really ever done that before. You’re right, it’s usually a woman, a little girl, a wife, and you’re not watching through their eyes. It’s never shot from the person who’s diving into this terrible realm. I love the film The Shining…
LC: Yesss, one of my favorites, too!
DJ: Yes! But how interesting would it be to watch, to see it from Jack Torrance’s eyes, Jack Nicholson’s character, as he’s slowly going mad? The questions that must be happening in his head—he’s hearing these voices, he’s seeing these things, [thinking] “God, am I losing my mind? Is this stuff real?” And to take kind of the scientific approach, to be able to sit down and say, “This isn’t happening. I’m going to have to describe it to you, I want to walk you through how I’m feeling.” And that’s what really kicked off this idea for me.
LC: That’s so cool. Actually, by the way, I should tell you I wrote my thesis on demonic possessions so this is totally up my alley…
DJ: Really? How cool. I think demonic possessions have always been there, it’s so interesting… I’m sure you’ve read the Malachi Martin book [Hostage to the Devil] which is great, it documents five specific cases of demonic possessions. What’s interesting about it is it takes both sides of the coin, it takes the one side, which is a very scientific side, which is, “This is how this could be explained. This is what could be happening. It could be a mental incapacity that could be happening that would cause someone to believe this.” And then the flip side is, “Well, this is the supernatural aspect of what could be taking place.” You reach a mixture, where you wonder, God, is it so powerful that whatever it is that is happening inside this person’s head, whether it’s psychological or supernatural, or it could be a mixture of both. Whatever’s firing in that person’s brain, whatever they believe is happening to them is more powerful than anything else. A belief in the supernatural is the most powerful thing, because it’s eternal. So religion, the supernatural, whatever you believe in… we all face it. Everybody dies. We all have to reach that point, we all have to go on this journey of discovering what is out there. Everyone has some fascination with it.
LC: So you were talking about wanting to make a documentary style film where we’re experiencing a possession as the main character is. I really loved the blend between the found footage style and the– I don’t know the technical term for it– but the straight-up regular film style. Did you always intend for it to be a blend or did you originally want to have it 100% documentary/found footage style?
DJ: The found footage doc style fit so well with what my character needs and what I was trying to accomplish at the same time. I’m not a big fan of found footage style, because it can be so shaky and annoying to try to watch. Some of them go out of their way to make a false sense of production values being so low and so amateur to make people believe that it’s not a real movie, this really is camera-to-camera, in their house, documenting their life, where the camera is giggling all over the place… In a world where we’re seeing a lot of these movies and a new media form, I didn’t want to get stuck with people saying we’re just doing a found footage film. But I actually wanted to take a note from the movie The Chronicle, which took found footage and elevated it and made the production values really good while remaining in the documentary style footage.
That movie is a movie I could go back to, as a filmmaker and a fan of film, and watch again and enjoy. A lot of these other films, like Paranormal Activity, you know, you watch it, and you’re like, “Okay, I get it, I never need to watch this again.” It’s kind of boring and annoying. It’s kind of a funny position to want to make a movie like this. It’s nice to reach the point in the movie where you’re not restricted by the documentary style, and you can get lost in watching this movie and you feel like you’re watching a movie. If you look at it, we have all of these cameras set up [in Michael’s house] so it really still sticks to all the rules—it’s just one guy with a camera. We just tried to make it as pretty as we could.
LC: I think it was super effective, I know personally sometimes I get motion sickness from some of the found footage films, and we actually sell a shirt on our Legless Corpse website that says “F**k Found Footage” so we definitely understand what you’re saying…
DJ: We actually re-wrote the script at one point to be shot in the traditional film, but the found footage style is so hot, and it made it easier for us to be able to make this movie. We all wanted to do it documentary style. But we weren’t trapped in the timeline because of it.
LC: Where did you guys shoot and how long did it take to shoot the film?
DJ: So, we shot in Los Angeles, which is awesome because I live in Los Angeles. We had 19 days to shoot the movie which was really difficult. A lot of low budget horror films take place in one location because then you don’t have to move things, you don’t have to keep packing up, changing the sets, you know, it’s much more complicated. We had to travel because there are a lot of different locations in the story, so we had 15 different locations that we were shooting in 19 days, so that was hard. My wife was pregnant and her due date was two days into our shooting schedule. I wasn’t really nervous about anything that had to do with the shoot, I felt pretty confident that I could pull off what I had written, and I have things really planned when it comes to my shots, my day, what I’m interested in. What I could not picture at all was when the baby was going to come. The movie was financed, it was really on my shoulders, I had to be there, but at the same time, I had to be there for the birth of my daughter. We actually really lucked out, we shot for two days, and then we had two days off for the 4th of July, so I came home from my second day on the movie, and my wife’s water broke, so we went to the hospital, stayed overnight the second night, and then I had to go back to the set.
LC: Oh my God, that’s crazy!
DJ: Yeah, it worked out as good as it possibly could have! I don’t even know what I would have done otherwise.
LC: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
DJ: Yes, I just finished writing a new script for a new film that I’m doing. It’s called ROAM, which stands for Rider of Another Mortal. The basic concept is, what if you could hijack another person’s body and take it out for a ride, and do whatever you want in it, and then go back to your own body without anybody realizing it. If you want to check it out, I just put up a temp website for it including storyboards for it, you can walk through the basic production. So people can check it out at roammovie.com.
LC: Thank you so much. This was an awesome chat, we really appreciate it!
DJ: Thanks so much, great questions!
Thanks again to David Jung for speaking with us. You can check out The Possession of Michael King in theaters starting today, August 22nd!
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