Interview: The Barge People writer Christopher Lombard

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A couple of weeks ago we shared the first trailer for independent creature feature The Barge People, which pitted a group against flesh eating fish mutants.

We got the chance to ask writer Christopher Lombard some questions about the film.

How did you first come up with the idea for The Barge People?

I first gave birth to the story back in 2011 when I lived in a flat overlooking a canal in my home town of Coventry.  I would go jogging along the canal, sometimes early morning in the dark before sun rise.  It was during these runs that I started to ponder the notion – you could go missing along some of these remote canal paths and no one would know!  The seed now planted, the story and characters began to grow…

I wanted to keep the story fairly simple, so decided to set it over one night with the protagonists being a group of city-dwelling friends who encounter canal side locals who are then all stalked and savagely attacked, making it simply a story about survival.

I think you’re the first writer to make barges a bad place to go, why did you pick this location?

One of the hardest parts of writing a story is first coming up with a unique idea, something that perhaps sounds a little familiar but also feels fresh and different to what has come before.  But I felt a canal/ narrow boat setting felt very unique and interesting so knew I was onto something.

What movie monsters did you take inspiration from when writing the story?

Having grown up watching horror films, I’ve always had a fascination in the psychology behind serial killers, so a family of evil cannibals, outcasts of society surviving anyway they can by killing and eating innocent tourists, felt like the perfect story to explore.  A friend recommended I look into the true story about Swaney Bean which became a great source of inspiration for the Barge People cannibals/ creatures. But in terms of movie inspirtaions think a Deliverance (1972) sort of scenario, mixed with the savage brutality of Hills Have Eyes remake (2006) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) thrown into the mix.

What was Director Charlie Steeds reaction when you pitched him the script?

It wasn’t actually me who pitched Charlie the script, it was lead actress of Barge People Kate Davies-Speak.  Kate has been a close friend of mine since moving to Bristol and has always loved The Barge People script, so when she was filming Charlie’s previous film ‘Escape From Cannibal Farm’, she told Charlie about the script.  Charlie liked the sound of it and got in touch with me and we started to chat, and just over a year later we were shooting!

Indie horror has become a lot more accessible with crowdfunding becoming more and more prevalent, do you think it’s a good time to be an indie filmmaker?

Most certainly, not only with crowdfunding which obviously helps with the financial side of things, but also with readily available high quality cameras and equipment.  I mean phones are that good these days that you could even go shoot a film in 4K on your phone! So yes, it is a very good time for indie filmmakers to get out there and showcase their talents.

Who are your horror inspirations?

Stephen King and Clive Barker I would say are my main two sources of inspiration when it comes to horror.  Always loved the way Stephen King would draw you in with his characters so when things started to turn bad, you find yourself emotionally attached to them.  With Clive Barker, it’s his unique imagination, and the dark places he explores.  I mean have we seen anything as darkly imaginative as Hellraiser since?! One of the best horrors ever made in my opinion!

What was the atmosphere like on set?

The atmosphere on set was fantastic, even when faced with challenges which every production has, everyone got on with it and did the very best they could.  Everyone seemed to really dig the project and gave it their all – really couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to work with, it was an honour. The crew (being Charlie and the DOP Michael), and the cast, were not only super talented, but also super friendly, everyone quickly bonded and friendships soon blosssomed.  Was great to be around.

Which character was the most fun to write?

I enjoyed writing all the characters in their own unquie way, but i’d so the most fun to write was Jade brilliantly played by the super talented McKenna Guyler.  I’ve always loved writing those characters who have a f**k you kind of attitude, that live by their own rules, and Jade is certainly one of those.  She gets in the faces of the main group as soon as they cross paths, presenting a real problem for them.  But as the story develops we see glimpses of her vuneralbilty, and that underneath this hard exterior lies a damaged girl who deep down does give  s**t. 

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