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Women in Horror Month: Makenna Guyler

Hey horror fans!

To celebrate Women in Horror Month I'll be publishing a series of interviews with some of the extremely talented ladies of Dark Temple Motion Pictures on the site, where we'll discuss the horror roles they've played and their thoughts on the ever evolving role of women within the horror genre.

To begin, I'm joined by The Barge People star Makenna Guyler, who thrilled us with her badass showreel and awesome audition during the casting process for the feisty role of 'Jade'.

Charlie Steeds: Makenna, let’s begin by discussing what horror projects you’ve been involved with!

Makenna Guyler: Horror is a relatively new genre for me! I was lucky enough to be cast in 2 last year, ‘Bloodbags’ was shot over 6 weeks in Turin, Italy, and I played the lead role of Tracy. She was a photographer from Ohio, studying in Turin for the architecture. Relatively ‘bookish’ and tunnel vision with her studies, she was extremely out of her depth when she found herself in the ‘horror scenario’.

I was then cast in the role of ‘Jade’ in ‘The Barge People’, a completely polar opposite role to play, a real ‘eye for an eye’ character. She gave as good as she got, with a stand-offish exterior and underlying vulnerabilities. Both are released this year and I can’t wait to see them!

CS: What drew you to the role of Jade initially?

MG: I really struggled to let Jade go! On my initial reading of the script I was so happy to play such a bold forward character, she is the driving force of her little family and has extremely strong beliefs in relation to their protection. I mean apart from getting to go through a wall (which was SO much fun!) the role was just so layered. She had a lot going on in her life prior to when we meet her that contributed to the harsh exterior, and I loved the challenge of finding the parts where we could show that, and her more vulnerable side.

CS: The horror genre has moved from taking pleasure in victimizing women to focusing on women as survivors, would you agree?

MG: I’ve been lucky enough to have been given roles where women are fighting back, and are the driving force of stories and decisions in the films. We’ve gone from being the plot device to help show off the monsters/villains power, to now having stories, back stories, flaws and it’s awesome to see. It can only get better!

CS: Which women in horror do you find particularly inspiring?

MG: I loved Jodie Foster in ‘Silence of the Lambs’, it was the first horror I saw where the female character didn’t run, scream, and hope to be saved, the on-screen development between Hopkins and Foster was inspiring for me to watch, and showed me women weren’t always victims, and didn’t have to be.

CS: Do you have a favourite horror film heroine/survivor girl?

MG: It’s not a classic response, but Katie Featherston in ‘Paranormal Activity’. She’s a survivor and will do whatever it takes to deal with what she’s facing, despite it being so far beyond her control.

CS: What female roles/representation in horror would you like to see more of in the future?

MG: Less of the damsel, more of the saving herself. I think the complexities of female characters are starting to come through in the genre, but I’d love to see the lines blur slightly more in regards to either being boxed into the extremes of ‘helpless’ or ‘badass’, so we can better represent women of today in regards to these stories.

CS: I think you've got a point there, so called 'strong' or badass characters, take for example Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, can sometimes appear more like some male fantasy of a sexy action woman rather than what I'd class as a strong and well rounded female character. Outside of horror you get characters like Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, who is a genuinely believable female character, strong and tough but not because she carries a gun. From The Barge People script I felt Jade had some of that, she's a well rounded character, I use the phrase well-rounded instead of strong because that's what we're wanting more of, right? Compared to Jade's boyfriend Ricky, who's entirely dependent on Jade to rescue him!

MG: Absolutely, I couldn't agree more! I think it's mad when people want to play 'strong' women, because that statement in itself is aiding the one dimension portrayal of a woman and you see it across the board, look at early Lara Croft.

Jade was awesome in reference to that, she was strong and tough, but she was a product of her circumstances and experiences. She stood for herself, but she was flawed and vulnerable, which made her layered, complex and human. This ultimately is what made her such a joy to play for me, and I hope will have our viewers rooting for her on her journey throughout 'The Barge People'!

THE BARGE PEOPLE is currently in post-production and will be released to DVD/VOD late 2018.

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