Many filmmakers find inspiration from their own surroundings and their lives. There is an often mentioned cliche that states, “write what you know.” It is this statement that can be applied to the startling shocker entitled, “Day Job” considering that director, actor and film jack of all trades, Dave O’Shea was inspired to create the film from his experience as a cable installer. This snaptwig.com columnist met and interviewed the director at a screening of his film during the “Another Hole in the Head” film festival that took place at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, California.
Day Job tells the tale of a cable television installer named Nick who carries a dark secret with him as he visits customers’ homes to install cable. It is his lurid and sadistic secret that director, Dave O’Shea chronicles that bludgeons film-goers who are brave enough to view this film. My complete review of the startling and deeply disturbing film experience will be published in this column in the future.
Dave O’Shea immediately projected a laid back and very humble quality in his answers that was quickly evident in the interview. It is also intriguing to note that he also shares a slightly mad twinkle in his eyes that all artists of note seem to share. We talked over pizza and the power of his film and his character that he portrayed was very much in the back of my mind as we conversed. Inspiration for a film is always a primary question and O’Shea began, “I have been a cable guy for almost fourteen years at this point. A lot of the scenes in the film were taken directly from reality!” A certain incident directly inspired the creation of the film. Dave illuminates, “there was a guy on his Bluetooth standing on his front porch talking mad crap about me! As I was walking to his house, the whole concept came to me. I could be a serial killer for all the guy knows. Why would you treat a complete stranger like this and with no idea how I was going to respond. The job itself gives such intimate access to people’s homes. You can show up undetected anywhere as long as you know where the crawlspaces are. I could come in and slice your throat as you sleep and my fingerprints are supposed to be in your house anyway! That was the kind of the day I was having!”
How does a gentleman that is in the cable business make the leap to dare to become a filmmaker? O’Shea explains, “I spent my whole life daydreaming constantly thinking that someday, someday-I want to do this. I got in a really bad car wreck and was rethinking life. I just needed to do this. I didn’t care if I didn’t have money or that people would watch this weird ass movie.” Dave adds with a laugh, “I just made it happen at the expense of a lot of friendships and relationships!”
Lack of funds, time and scheduling would bedevil the production. Dave O’Shea explains, “Over four or five years, we would shoot a couple of weekends here and there. Trying to coordinate everybody’s schedules just made it take forever! On top of that, you got some cast members that were less reliable than others and then you would have to put things off! During those four years, there would be six months before we could shoot anything!”
It has been this columnist’s long held belief that horror films can provide the viewer with an effective method to safely release sometimes volatile thoughts. The horror film genre can be seen to be an alternative to expensive and sometime futile therapy. Would it be a far leap to also speculate that making such a film could also be a form of self therapy? O’Shea addresses this and comments, “even just writing it was therapeutic! That job is very, very stressful and most people don’t get that, so this was a good creative outlet.”
Examining a film like Day Job-it is always intriguing to attempt to discern possible influences that may have helped shape the film. The film’s quasi-documentary-like atmosphere recalled another shocking film called “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” which also was the debut of another maverick filmmaker called Tobe Hooper. Dave O’Shea responds, “John Carpenter is probably my favorite filmmaker. I was hugely influenced by his pacing and his storytelling. A lot of modern audiences get bored with long winded dialogue, but to me-it is a lot more honest and life-like. It was deliberate to not let you in right away. I tried to drop small hints.”
Dave O’Shea’s film, Day Job can be categorized as a horror film, but O’Shea has a much more intriguing response to the notion of what constitutes a genre film. Dave comments, “it is a lot of different genres in itself. To make it easy for people-you can call it a horror film, but it is not really horror. It’s no more horror than like Taxi Driver is. It is a dark drama. It is not super over the top, but when it gets ugly-it gets ugly!” Dave O’Shea continues with a surprising revelation, “I loathe most horror films, especially these days! If they are not a remake, then they might as well be because they are so watered down!”
Dave O’Shea’s final thoughts turn out to be the most memorable and fascinating. O’Shea adds, “seeing this film with strangers is just weird! It has been something I have been working on for so long. Seeing my film get a tiny bit of recognition is very rewarding. Whether people love it or hate it-it gets a reaction and that was always my hope. At least it is not a forgettable thing and you may want to forget certain images, but this is not the kind of thing you walk away from! You might hate it, but you won’t forget it!”