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Actor Mark McKirdy talks THE BARGE PEOPLE

In October last year, the Dark Temple team ventured onto the peaceful canals of Wiltshire to film our 3rd horror flick, a sort of The Hills Have Eyes on water...


Among us was Scottish actor Mark McKirdy, who in the role of Mark (yes, the character is also called Mark) was on the shoot for the entire 18 day duration. Here Mark shares with us his experience from the horror movie set.

Charlie Steeds: Mark, introduce yourself.

Mark McKirdy: Hello there. My name is Mark McKirdy and I’m an actor from Edinburgh.

CS: Casting this role was such a pain! He’s the co-lead of the film, and we wanted to find the average loving boyfriend type. Actors don’t tend to market themselves as ‘average’ and nobody seemed quite right, until you came along! So Mark, how are you so average?

No wait, that’s not the question!

Mark, tell us exactly how you came to be cast in The Barge People?

MM: Always so full of compliments Charlie.

CS: You're welcome.

MM: I believe the term is 'boy next door', or at least thats what I'm sticking to. I had seen a casting announcement on twitter so I responded with a link to my showreel. I had completely forgot about it then was sent a private message asking if I would be interested in sending some self tapes. Sent them off and was contacted by yourself for a wee chat. You then contacted to say I had got the part. Was a bit in shock that it had all happened through twitter.

CS: Using Twitter for casting on this project was Kate Davies-Speak's idea, and actually worked surprisingly well! It was a pretty last minute casting as you say, and that’s not because we left it until the last minute, we auditioned many many actors months before you popped up! But we all knew we’d found the perfect guy for the job. Honestly, Kate (who, along with playing the lead role that was written for her, took on casting director duties for the film) our writer Chris and I, were so excited we’d found you. Once you had the call from us what happened next?

MM: It was all pretty manic to be honest. I had originally been contacted on the Sunday evening and was cast by the Friday. I was then on a plane to Bristol ten days later. The script became an extension of my arm and I worked on it every day. I got down to Bristol a few days before the three week shoot to spend some time with the team. I think it’s so important to form a relationship with the director and crew as well as your fellow actors so I wanted a bit of time to be able to do that.

CS: We started the shoot out on the canal, driving the barge around, causing havoc and being

hated by (some of) the locals. Often you’d have to act scenes whilst actually steering the barge, which frankly you were quite shit at, and seemed pretty on edge at all times...

You even slept on the barge, because being the money-saving indie film producer I am, I saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone there. And might I apologise again for the fact you didn’t fit in the beds because they were too short. Tell us about barge life?

MM: Think you said it all mate. I hated it! It was pretty stressfull. Canal dwellers don’t seem to like holiday makers and they are not afraid to show it. There was times when the camara was blocking me from seeing where I was going and I had to steer the barge while filming the scenes. My brain was fried after each day. Once the boat was moored up and we could sit and have dinner (and laugh at my steering skills) then I could relax. Matt Swales (who plays Ben), Kate and I did have some funny moments and we got to know each other pretty well in those three days which played well into the rest of the shoot. Never again though.

CS: The shoot then moved to Cornwall, to our barge interior set. Things got pretty messy there, the most fake blood I’ve ever used, and a lot of slime being fired in your face with a high pressure sprayer. How was it shooting those scenes?

MM: Fun. Lots of fun! There was one day where we filmed a lot of the ‘attack’ scene I guess you could call it. It was an onslaught and it was probably my most demanding day. Ten hours of solid fight scenes. It was emotionally and physically draining. The team were so good at keeping everyone up and going though. It was genuine laughs in between all takes and the box of wine was always welcome at the end of the day. Sometimes even during. It was great to be shut away from civilization on the farm. The place was genuinely creepy when the sun set and it helped in preparing for the scenes.

CS: I think horror fans are going to love you! You gave me Bruce Campbell Evil Dead vibes when you were fighting fish-mutants and getting so drenched in crap.

MM: That’s very nice of you to say and a massive compliment to be put in the same ball park as such an icon.

CS: The shoot came to an end after only 18 days, the shortest shoot I’ve done for a feature, and it was a whirlwind, but somehow felt like it lasted forever. The night we wrapped, what were your final impressions of the entire shoot?

MM: My gut feeling as soon as we wrapped was a little lonely and isolated. You spend so much time with these people and then all of a sudden they are gone.

CS: Yes, we form a little filmmaking family! The only reason I keep making films is to get this bunch together again and again.

MM: There is a lot of talk of ups and downs with actors and at the end of such a fun shoot it is quite a downer. I will always look on the shoot with great fondness. It was independent filming at its perfect best and I wouldn’t have changed any of it. Well maybe one of the nights sleeping arrangements (you know the one) but I really feel I made friends for life.

CS: Well Mark, you're back for much more bloodshed later this year, but more news on that in the coming months... Thanks for the interview!

See Mark battle flesh-hungry mutant fish monsters when The Barge People completes post-production this Summer, due for a 2019 DVD release.

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