White Settlers is an exciting up- coming British suspense/ thriller/horror film from director Simeon Halligan (who previously directed Splintered and also runs Grimm Up North – Manchester’s home of horror and cult films).
The screenplay is by Ian Fenton, this is Ian’s feature film debut as a writer.
White Settlers boasts an impressive cast , Pollyanna McIntosh from the brilliant cult film The Woman, also Burke and Hare and Exam. Alongside Pollyanna is Lee Williams who has been in many superb British TV programmes including Hotel Babylon, The Tudors and Teachers.
Pollyanna and Lee gave me the honour of answering my questions, so without further a do I will let them explain what White Settlers is all about and what has been involved in the filming of it.
Can you both tell us what we can expect from White Settlers, what’s it all about?
Lee – White Settlers is a thriller/horror about a London married couple who relocate to Scotland to renovate a farmhouse, and whilst there, external circumstances threaten their existence with chilling consequences. It becomes a race to survive; a cat and mouse game with the couple battling it out to the end.
Pollyanna – Tense suspense, some good frights, believable characters you can root for and a surprise ending!
It’s about a couple who move from city life in England to the country life on the borders of Scotland and are confronted by monsters on their first night in their new home.
How about some insight into your characters?
Pollyanna – Sarah is a city girl who’s ready to have children and wants her husband to take the final step away from the job he hates to be self sufficient in the country where they plan to run a B&B for tourists. She’s quite fragile and fearful of bumps in the night but as the story progresses she surprises herself with her resilience.
Lee – I read Ed as a guy who has one foot still in London and the other with his wife in Scotland. He loves her very much and her desire to make a new life for themselves supersedes his desire to remain in the city. He is a bit of a lad, quick-witted, always ready with a sarcastic or jokey comment to defuse a heated situation. But when things take a turn for the worst, he becomes serious – his survival instincts kick in and he will do anything to protect his family.
White Settlers looks to me like a lot of outside filming. I presume you feel quite at home with that Pollyanna after the excellent film The Woman. How does filming White Settlers compare to that?
Pollyanna – Yeah, we’re often at the mercy of the weather!
Well, it’s similar in that its a tight schedule, small crew, low budget, all on location and packed with hardworking creatives. There’s also a fair amount of stunt work and outdoor filming. I’m also playing lead again so, yeah, there are a few similarities. My character is very different to that of The Woman though and of course this is a British film set in the country I come from, Scotland. In The Woman I spent the film getting progressively cleaner but in this I start off clean and get dirtier and dirtier!
Am I right in thinking Lee that this is your first foray into this genre of film? What attracted you to this role in White Settlers?
Lee – Unlike Polly, yes, this is my first experience of this genre and I’ve loved every blood soaked, gory moment! More please! I’d like to turn things on their head and maybe play the bad guy in another horror movie and show just how evil and dark I can truly be!
Can you tell us about your ‘on set’ experience so far, any favourite moment? Tricky elements you’ve had to deal with?
Pollyanna – For me the on set experience has been a mix of fun and banter with a lot of intense fearful psyched up scenes. With a great crew like this one there are plenty of laughs to be had. Most of the jokes are in-jokes so they’d probably land pretty flat on paper but I’d say my favorite moments are those end of night shoots at 4am when we’ve been down to the wire and have still managed to squeeze the juice out of the scenes.
As far as “tricky elements” to deal with we’ve got stunts, prosthetics, animals, forests at night, rain, hail and wind and the bloody cold so…yeah, we’re pretty much covered in that department!
Lee – The blood! The first few days were fun, but being caked in this sticky red stuff all day certainly lost its novelty by the end of filming! Both myself and Polly were covered in scratches and bruises by the end of it – always a good sign that we have put in a proper days work!
How has it been working with director Simeon Halligan?
Pollyanna – Sim and our DOP have a great symbiotic relationship so it’s a pleasure to see them make it happen. He and I spoke early on about the film and as the first attached I’ve had the luxury of talking through story points with both him and the writer, Ian Fenton, as the script progressed. That’s a joy for me and I always feel lucky when directors and writers are open to that kind of collaboration.
Lee – Simeon was wonderful to work with – WORK being the operative word; very collaborative and open to discussion and ideas, loads of me and Poll’s ideas he used in the movie. I always felt my opinion was valid and enjoyed figuring out with him and Polly, how to make a scene the best it could be, working with such a short shooting schedule.
Do you have any bits of info you would be willing to leak to tease fans a little?
Lee – All I can say is that at one point, I get attacked by a character called Truffles, whose main objective is to eat whatever gets in her way! Ruthless!
Pollyanna – I think I’ve said enough…
One last question, (as we are www.ukhorrorscene.com). I remember the first horror film I watched at an early age was Evil Dead; I’ve had a love of horror since. Do you remember the first horror film you watched and the effect it had on you?
Lee –My first ever horror/thriller that I remember watching was on Betamax when I was about 8 years old called “When a stranger calls”, when the killer is in the house and keeps calling the babysitter asking, ‘Have you checked the children….”. Scared the absolute shit out of me! I also sneaked into the cinema to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. For me, as a kid, Freddy was the best boogeyman – very scary and extremely memorable. The remake sucked though! Please stop re-making classic horror movies!! Thank you and good night!
Pollyanna – The first experience I had of being scared out of my wits was Watership Down. Not a traditional “horror” perhaps but at 5 years old it was utterly horrific! I think that put me off for life! I’m a total wuss when it comes to watching horror. I avoid it at all costs!
Many thanks to Pollyanna and Lee for their insightful answers, I am very excited about this project and look forward to the film.
White Settlers will be released early 2014, it may be through Grimm Entertainment but nothing yet has been confirmed, with such a prestigious cast in place they are getting increasing interest from much bigger distributors.
Please check out the website www.whitesettlers.com for more info and pictures, also follow on twitter @WhiteSettlers
About Paul Norbury
Since being allowed at an early age to watch Hammer films I've been an avid fan of horror. Evil dead is the film i remember most from my youth during the banned nasties time in the 80's. I have a love of horror/splatter and extreme cinema, and have an ever growing dvd collection! Music taste varies with thrash/ death metal (was a tape trader in the early 90's) and also dubstep thrown in for good measure!