Interview: The Barge People star Mark McKirdy

On set of 'The Barge People' 3

Just when you thought it was safe to go down the canal, new indie horror The Barge People is set to give them a whole new meaning.

We caught with star Mark McKirdy and talked all about battling killer fish mutants and working with the makers of Escape from Cannibal Farm.

Tell us about the audition for The Barge People?

It all happened very quickly. I had sent my details to Kate on Twitter after she had posted they were casting the movie and I hadn’t heard anything so I forgot about it. Then out of the blue she sent me a message asking if I would be interested in doing a self tape, but they needed them fast.

That was on the Sunday. I obsessed over the script all day on the Monday and had a fair idea of some character choices. I decided to go a little off piste and I recorded a couple of taped videos on my phone that I thought the character Mark would send to his girlfriend Kat.

The first was a video wishing her goodnight imagining they were apart from each other and the second was a scene that could have been taken from the movie where Mark is in a really stressful situation. I also recorded a scene from the script and sent them on. That was Monday night. I then had a Skype call with Charlie on the Wednesday and he emailed that night to confirm I had secured the part. It was a pretty intense few days.

What was your initial reaction from reading the script?

God I want to be in this movie!!!

It was one of those really fun scripts. There was a lot of energy on the page and that really stuck with me. You could really tell that Christopher was enjoying writing it. In some of the directions it was like he was just speaking his mind and getting excited where the story was taking us. It was infectious all the way through. I remember thinking how much I wanted to tell this guys story. I want to show people the enthusiasm I was reading from page to page.

What was a typical day on set like?

It genuinely was a lot of fun. It was independent film making at its finest. We were a small team all living together for the duration of the shoot and we all became very close very quickly. It made being on set very easy.

We were all happy chatting in between takes but equally as respectful if someone needed some space to prepare or to get ready for the next take. It was a pretty intense script at times so it was great to have that light relief between takes. In all honesty I think most days on set were spent eating fake chocolate mice and dancing to Madonna.

Tell us about working with Charlie Steeds?

Charlie truly is one of a kind. He has a gift of remaining calm in any given situation. He never seems to be stressed and in turn he never had any stressed actors. He was just one of us on this crazy adventure together and I think that’s how he gets the best results. Definitely no egos or any hierarchy. He’s just Charlie.

Are you a horror fan? If so what are some of your favourites?

It’s funny because I never thought I was or I wouldn’t describe myself as one. One of the first times I sat down with Charlie I confessed that I didn’t watch a lot of horror. Thankfully it wasn’t a deal breaker, but then as the days went by Charlie made a point that pretty much every horror we were talking about as a group I had actually seen.

If I was to choose a horror category I would say I was more of a slasher fan. The old ‘Scream’ adage of someone running up the stairs rather than running out the door. That amuses me greatly. I’m better when the killer is a human as oppose to a creature of some kind. Which I guess is kind of ironic.

On set of 'The Barge People' .jpg

Tell us about your character Mark?

Mark is your typical ‘boy next door’. A genuinely nice guy. The sort of person you would be happy to take home to your parents. Not the sort of person that likes to live dangerously or take on big adventures.

I mean, his idea of a fun holiday is renting a barge! The great thing about playing him was that there actually isn’t anything too special about him. He’s an every day guy that is thrown into a horrific situation. It’s how we react in these situations that ultimately define us. It’s fight or flight.

Thankfully Mark chooses to fight. It’s that switch that makes him an interesting character for me. He reacts the way we all hope we would.

If you were to describe The Barge People in 3 words what would they be?

Blood soaked mayhem

When can fans see The Barge People?

We are hoping it will be ready for the summer festival circuit. After that I’m sure there will be screenings around Halloween this year.

What projects have you got coming up?

I’m currently working with some writers in turning a short into a feature length movie. It’s the team behind ‘Electric Man’. It’s a great idea for a movie and has an awesome team behind it. The short is called ‘Stealing second’. Please check it out and look out for the feature. I’ve recently moved back to Edinburgh so I’m getting involved a lot more this year with young Scottish theatre companies. It’s where my heart lies.

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