A very familiar face on a Dark Temple Motion Pictures film set is that of actor Kate Davies-Speak. She's appeared in all five Dark Temple feature films to date and will be venturing once again into blood-soaked territory this October for our gothic gore fest... The Servants of Hellwood House!
Just in time for the UK DVD release next month, Kate spared some time to discuss her experience making our first horror feature film Escape From Cannibal Farm!
Charlie Steeds: Alright then my luv, let's start by explaining how you came to be cast in the lead role of Jessica Harver?
Kate Davies-Speak: I'd previously worked on your first feature film (Labyrinthia) which had given me a wonderful opportunity to get to know you, your style, and more importantly a chance to really discover what makes you tick. During that shoot we’d discuss movies such as retro horror flicks and Quentin Tarantino classics. I am pretty sure we even discussed the concept of shooting a horror feature together next, we were keen to really make something that would satisfy fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.
CS: We were filming Labyrinthia on a farm, but of course Labyrinthia isn't set on a farm... I just kept wishing I'd written a film set on a farm! There we were, using this one tiny wooden set, but with a great location right in front of us.
KD-S: You were keen to come up with something gory but with well developed characters that the audience could invest in, before the horror happens.
CS: That's right, this film would be a horror movie that makes room for its characters above all else. It wasn't intended to be a gore film or an action film, but of course we wanted to have some of those elements to enhance the drama.
KD-S: I didn’t have to audition, as you had created this character for me based on your knowledge of what I was itching to play; A character who could show a transition from victim to vengeful hero!
CS: That's something I love to do, when an actor I've enjoyed working with tells me "Ooh I'd love to play this one day..." I go ahead and write a character that I think they'll enjoy. And you had a great reaction to the script and this character!
KD-S: I was so excited to work on a film which I knew was the exact type of film that I would go to the cinema to watch! I remember finding the script really exciting, and actually pretty funny!
CS: I think you've got to balance humour with the horror, at least with something as melodramatic as Escape From Cannibal Farm!
KD-S: We spoke at length about my character and what kind of person she was. I was delighted to find that some of Jessica’s conversations were loosely based on experiences that you'd had yourself, it made her more real. She basically has to use the events that happen in order to grow up, break free and become the person she’s supposed to be. I knew it would stretch me more as an actor, beyond what you’d typically expect from the genre.
CS: Exactly, in the film she must learn to stop depending on her parents and learn how to make her own way in life. It takes being locked in a cage with her family and having to fight for her life, for Jess to finally become the independent person she needed to be, that's her journey.
KD-S: She was exactly the type of character I had been eager to play. Working frequently in horror means I'm familiar with playing the victim, however what gave Jess the edge was the way she switches to a badass survivor. Admittedly I do wish I could still do more with this role, I feel like she was really building up to something quite unhinged.
CS: I agree, only by the end of the movie was Jess the badass we both wanted! If there were to be a sequel she would be a proper badass character right from the start. I remember the day on set where we filmed you drenched in blood with that shotgun. Now that was badass!
KD-S: There was a moment when she makes a decision to leave her family, disband from them for good, she’s so lost, she can’t see any future. I really enjoyed playing that moment. It’s actually more rewarding than the obvious running about with weapons and covered in gore. A moment when I am able to dig a little deeper emotionally.
CS: I know the scene you're talking about and its one of your best moments in my films, the best I've seen you perform. You might have topped it in The Barge People, but it was really thrilling on set! Of my movies so far, I had the best time making Escape From Cannibal Farm, it was exhausting that's for sure, 22 days back to back, some days we'd get to bed at 5am and we'd be up again at 9am... crazy! But it was so exciting to be shooting this horror movie!! At least for me.
KD-S: I enjoyed every moment of it! We all became a close little team, we had to be, because indie filmmaking isn’t always comfortable and doesn’t always go smoothly, so you have to be working with people that not only work hard but are willing to have fun and be respectful of each other’s space and needs. Everyone worked hard and a lot of thought had been put into shots and performances. I enjoyed the contrast of working on set in the 'cage house' and then getting to do scenes in some lovely outdoor locations.
CS: We were incredibly lucky with our locations actually, and also it was June so the weather was OK, which hasn't been the case on ANY of my films that have followed...
KD-S: It was like being on a really strange holiday, a nice balance between hard work but having a good time. We’d get into the mood by listening to various horror movie soundtracks, my favourites being The Fog and Halloween.
CS: Oh yeah, you have to play some John Carpenter soundtracks on the set, get everyone in the horror headspace! Dust Devil was another soundtrack we heard constantly on the set, and The Village too.
KD-S: The main challenge I faced was the physical stress of being covered in sticky fake blood, on quite cold days... My hair, skin and clothes all sticking together! Also not being able to touch any furniture, for fear of getting it caked in grime, so this was quite uncomfortable, fine at first but after a few weeks the novelty certainly started to wear off...
CS: Yes, this was quite a messy shoot for some of the actors! On the last day you were just itching to wash it all off for the last time!
KD-S: Overall I had a blast! Which is why I've returned for many more Dark Temple horror adventures since!
See Kate in ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM out on DVD in the UK on September 24th (out in the US as 'Cannibal Farm') and for those who follow Kate on social media, stay tuned for gory updates from the set of THE SERVANTS OF HELLWOOD HOUSE this October!
PRE-ORDER HERE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Cannibal-Farm-Kate-Davies-Speak