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Interview with Charlie Steeds director of The Barge People
By James Whittington, Monday 26th August 2019 Ever wanted a horror movie set on a canal boat? Well your dream has come true with Charlie Steeds' new movie The Barge People.
HC: Looking at your CV you seem to be a big fan of the horror genre, can you recall which film inspired your career?CS: Absolutely, I'm a horror fanatic, that's why I'm making horror films! I got hooked on this genre by watching Stephen King adaptations. I looked for anything with King's name on and knew I'd love it, this one guy's imagination produced a whole world of unique horror stories, the Stephen King brand, it still amazes me.
HC: Has any one director or other creative influenced your work?
CS: I'm a huge fan of Lucio Fulci. His combination of shocking ultra-violent gore and beautiful, inventive cinematography choices are a constant inspiration whenever I'm looking for ideas. Same goes for for Mario Bava and Dario Argento.
HC: How did you become connected to The Barge People movie?
CS: On the set of my movie Escape From Cannibal Farm, my lead actress (Kate Davies-Speak) mentioned a script she'd read, The Barge People, and she suggested I meet with the writer Chris Lombard, as the style of my film might've been a match for that script. I met Chris and his script was right up my street. I thought that if anyone else got to make this film, I'd be jealous. I knew I wanted to do it.
HC: How did you go about casting the movie?
CS: The lead role had been written for Kate Davies-Speak, and so she, Chris and I, did the casting for the film together. Many auditions, many self-tapes, probably the most people I've seen for a project so far. The cast was fairly big and required people I'd not worked with before to play the roles (I like to use the same team of actors on my films as much as I can).
HC: Were there any problems shooting on such boats and locations?
CS: The most problematic shoot I've done so far... Filming on the canal was such a challenge. To take the boat backwards to repeat a shot, that could take hours... I managed to turn the boat in narrow bits of canal where I'm sure no boat has ever turned! Nightshoots were long and cold, we were rained off multiple times, and one night we shot through a storm, which you can see on screen. It was unpleasant! The action had to be moved from the woods and into farmhouses under shelter, we improvised! It all made for a better film, strangely enough, because that atmosphere is there when you watch it, the wind and rain and dirt and suffering is on screen!
HC: It has a nice feeling of classic X-Files to it, was this deliberate at all?
CS: I know the writer Chris is a huge X-Files fan, but for me directing it my main influence was to create a sort of British take on The Hills Have Eyes. Me and Chris both adore Alexandre Aja's remake, one of my favourite horror films! Long Weekend is a film I kept thinking about whilst shooting, this rough, gritty Ozploitation feel, the characters interacting with environments around them.
HC: There haven't been many movies set on the waterways of the UK, do you think you've help create a new genre, Canal Horror?
CS: Part of what drew me to the project was that I'd never seen monsters on the Canal before! It felt so uniquely British, which was part of the appeal. I think in general we don't get enough fish-creature/fish-man horror. I have plans to make many other fishy horror films, I am actually obsessed with fish-men...
HC: The film is having its world premiere at FrightFest, are you nervous?
CS: I can't wait!! I've watched the film with a lot of people and I think it's a fun watch. Its a simple monster movie at heart and I'd say I've used its low budget style (VHS era vibes) to its advantage. It'll be very interesting to see if it plays well with the FrightFest audience.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
CS: I just finished post-production on my 1960s-set haunted house movie, An English Haunting, starring David Lenik and Tessa Wood, which I think is my best movie so far. In May I wrapped production on a 1970s-set blaxploitation splatter horror called Death Ranch, which I shot on location in Tennessee, that's in post-production now and gore fans will not be disappointed! And I'm mid-way through shooting a very sexy modern-day vampire thriller, I've taken a week off to enjoy FrightFest!
HC: Charlie Steeds, thank you very much.
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