As we continue to celebrate Women in Horror Month, we got the chance to quiz scream queen Kate Davies-Speak about her roles in the upcoming monster horror The Barge People, The House of Violent Desire and the upcoming second season of hit sci fi web series Horizon.
Tell us about your role in The Barge People?
About 5 years ago I befriended a screenwriter called Christopher Lombard when he moved to Bristol from his home town in Coventry, we met via a film making network site ‘Stage 32’ and decided to get together and discuss our work and goals. Out of the scripts that Chris discussed and shared with me I was instantly drawn to ‘The Barge People’ and remember thinking that I’d give anything for it to get turned into a film.
It was a tense thriller turned creature feature that was very similar to many that I already enjoy ‘The Wrong Turn’, ‘Eden Lake’ and ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ involving a bunch of friends who decide to embark on a weekend trip together on the canal, the sister’s had a rough year and the trip is their chance to connect again. During the ill-fated weekend the group are terrorized by both local residents and then eventually the creatures that we come to know as ‘The Barge People’ (mutated fish-looking creatures with an appetite for human flesh). The group must form an alliance with their original enemies in order to survive the big bad.
This movie was right up my street and I knew it was the type of film I’d love to watch let alone be part of.
We spent a great deal of time over the subsequent years bouncing ideas and sharing rewrites but it was still just a script in a pile that may never happen. We had kind of put it on the ‘back burner’ for a short while and I went away shooting other horror movies whilst Chris continued with his writing of other scripts. During filming of ‘Escape From Cannibal Farm’ in 2016 I was on my way home from the location we’d shot in that day when we passed over a canal area with a creepy looking local pub and some barges which were moored up. I remember piping up to my director/producer friend Charlie that he ought to read ‘The Barge People’ as it dawned on me how perfect he’d be to bring Chris’ vision to life.
So after lots of discussion, tons of planning, meetings, pub drinking nights with drunken-chats (has to be done right?), Charlie and Chris agreed to collaborate and actually shoot the movie. We went into production at the end of the Summer in 2017 and I was honored that the team brought me in as a casting director (as well as playing one of the main cast) . As someone who had known the film for many years-it made sense that I’d understand what we were looking for with the actors we were casting.
We wrapped by Halloween 2017 and the trailer dropped in the New Year, so far the response has been awesome.
What was filming like as the plot sounds crazy?
It was gruelling hard work, cold nights – lots of fake blood and gunge and a mixture of intense dramatic scenes and good old fashioned gore and shocks. I loved every blood drenched second of it. The cast and crew were some of the most amazing people I have ever worked with, both on and off set, there wasn’t a second of it I didn’t love. I was so excited to see the creatures brought to life too and they were certainly creepy!
What was your favorite day on set?
I had so many great days but it has to be as tie-breaker between the day we set sail on the real barge (after just a 45 minute tutorial video and briefing) and then the day we got onto the amazing barge set (which looked and felt so real) but we could really go to town on the acting and violence as it was just a set built inside a farm yard.
We had a scene where pretty much every character was on set and it was very intense, I absolutely loved it. We all just bounced off each other, the perfect team.
Tell us about your character Kat?
I loved playing ‘Kat’. She’s just a very down to Earth, fun-loving, peaceful girl who just wants to be close with her boyfriend Mark and her Sister who she loves and cares about more than anyone.
Kat hates confrontation and tries to be rational in crazy situations. I enjoyed her because she was actually adapted to basically be like me; that’s the perks of being mates with the writer I guess. It’s nice to play someone believable, not too wimpy, not too tough but someone who doesn’t sit back and let bad things happen to her and her friends.
I enjoy these types of characters. As a huge fan of the horror genre I take it as an important responsibility to bring back some of these interesting and three-dimensional women that females can actually relate to. We get a bit sick of the stereotypical victim who screams and falls over when she could be using her brain.
Kat is certainly not as tough as some of the characters I have played in the past but I think there’s an element of believability in her actions, if I have done my job properly.
You’ve worked with Charlie Steeds before, what was different on The Barge People?
Indeed, I have.
I’ve now worked on 5 films with Charlie, (and will continue to do so) I love his passion for making retro inspired horror and his amazing creativity and dedication to achieving his goals.
We have an awesome little working relationship and understand each other very well. ‘The Barge People’ did feel a little different but only in the respect that this was the first time Charlie and I weren’t shooting one of his scripts so although he was directing the film it was Chris who really got the main say on the story and characters.
‘The Barge People’ was also a bigger production value than some of the previous films because we all aspire to go up a gear with each gig so I guess with that there was some added pressure. The DoP Michael Loyd is also an exceptional set-builder and the second Charlie and Michael showed me the Barge set I knew we were working at a slightly higher level. It adds a nice bit of pressure to work harder all around really.
What can you tell us about your role in Dead Air?
Aaaaaaah I LOVED working on ‘Dead Air’ what a kick ass job that was! I played ‘The Bassist’ (who has since been named Eve Hallows) who is one of four punk rock-chicks attending their last gig via long-haul flight when they are attacked by Critters (that look like furry Gremlins).
I loved every second of it from arriving at Black Hangar Studios, meeting the crew and of course the amazing women who would be my co-stars. We had an excellent dynamic straight away, we could have very easily really been in an actual band (except I can’t play a single instrument in real life).
I had a blast fighting creatures with my Bass-Guitar, that film and that role was a definitely high point of 2017 for me (aside from my Wedding Day…but I digress.) It was so nice to work on such a lively set, pretty big team, awesome Make-Up Artists who performed a ‘life cast’ on us all (where your head is set in plaster… Terrifying but a unique challenge and experience).
I also very much enjoyed being able to be on a plane without being crippled by my phobia of flying. The set was so cool. It wasn’t hard to get into the role since we were all actually sitting on a real Boeing 737.
You’re very much a champion of independent horror, how important is it that horror fans are now making their films?
I am a huge fan of this movement. I think that independent films are really the key to true imagination and unique cinema. Of course a higher budget allows more fancy effects and the occasional A-Lister but I have most certainly enjoyed the indie horrors of the last decade was more than the bigger productions. ‘Hush’ on Netflix and ‘Creep’ being two of my favorites.
Who are your favorite scream queens?
I have many.my standouts are; Neve Campbell, Sissy Spacek, Adrian Barbeau, Marrgot Kidder, Jamie-Lee Curtis, Shauna McDonald, Kate Siegal, Jocelyn Donahue and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Are you looking forward to the new Halloween movie?
I am looking forward to it very much but experience tells me not to get too excited, I doubt it could ever come close to the original but I know I’ll enjoy it for old time’s sake, plus Jamie Lee-Curtis is in it – it’s worth it for that!
What can you tell us about the second season of Horizon?
I’m excited for people to watch the second season of Horizon.
The team worked so hard to ensure that all the questions raised by the viewers of season 1 were answered (and then some!). Season 2 takes place about 3-4 days after the final of season 1 and the group are holed up in a farmhouse just outside of the City.
They are very aware that with the threat of invasion and with the growing tensions of other gangs and hostiles they will have to be on their guard to protect each other and their new home. It’s pretty tense from the word go and the dynamic was ace.
As actors we hadn’t been on set together in roughly two years so you can imagine we were excited but also keen to be professional and do an improved job on our roles. I was so excited about the development of my character ‘Nicole’ and the adventures she had in store, she’s been one of my favorite characters ever to play so getting the chance to push her physically and emotionally was a wonderful and exciting challenge.
I wanted her to evolve into more of a warrior, someone the group could trust and rely on. I’m very thankful for the show-writers Paul, Simon and Chris that they wrote a character for me who went from office bore to Lara Croft…
Another Charlie Steeds production is The House of Violent Desire, how different is this from your previous work?
‘The House of Violent Desire’ was immensely different to previous projects I’d worked on for several reasons. Firstly the location (in the South of France, in a creepy yet beautiful Gothic castle truly was a work of art on its own) it was very easy to get swept up in the storyline and the characters. We got so spooked on several occasions that I’m certain we heard ghosts during night shoots.
The characters were wonderful and very deep in comparison to what I was used to, my character Agatha was very childish and inexperienced due to her having been kept within her household for the entirety of her life, she knew nothing about thew outside World and more specifically about other people, and attraction.
Her innocence and vulnerability were interesting to portray but she had a sass that I feel carries through in most of my roles. The content of the film and the style of ‘horror’ was very different, really it was all about lust and desires no matter how inappropriate and how these things can haunt you and ruin lives and relationships…
It was a very interesting film. I have watched it five times now and each time I have discovered much more, it’s a more layered film than any that I have worked on and I think it’s actually Charlie’s favorite out of his current films.
As for me, I simply love working within horror, I love exploring new styles, settings, chaarcters and challenges. I am so thrilled that talented filmmakers such as Charlie provide me with a way of achieving this. However I can’t praise him too much or he’ll get a big head, I like to give him some stick on set too just to keep it even.