A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Simeon Halligan, director of White Settlers and the mind behind the increasingly popular Grimmfest Horror Festival in the UK. His film, White Settlers, which aired at Frightfest in London, was one of the standout films for me during that whole period, and to top it off the film stars one of my favourite actresses in the modern horror scene, Pollyanna McIntosh. Her work in Lucky McKee’s “The Woman” and Simeon Halligan’s “White Settlers” as well as the underrated “Exam” have shown her to be an actress with a vast range and a willingness to delve into roles that many of her peers may not.
With White Settlers, which will be available to buy on DVD in the UK on October 20th, Pollyanna put forth a strong performance filled with terror and strength, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with her, about the film, her previous work, and what she has coming up in the near future. Here is the interview in full. Enjoy.
Having seen, and loved your work in The Woman, I was excited to see White Settlers, and I found your performance to be exciting, convincing, and really well rounded. What was the experience like, filming White Settlers, and how was Simeon Halligan to work with, as director?
Thanks very much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was pretty funny to be spending day after day running scared and therefore summoning up the feeling of fear and loss (of my husband). I’ve never had to do scared and lost in such a relentless way. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun had Simeon not been generous, happy and a good on set communicator. I really was lucky with a great team all round.
You have had parts in some very interesting horror films, is the genre one that you have a passion for, and what intrigues you about the horror scene in general?
I tend to go for script rather than genre but I feel I’ve been lucky to be embraced by the horror community so well. It really is a supportive industry with passionate fans and I enjoy playing edge of your seat, active stuff. An actor’s life would be terribly dull if we had to stick to one type of character or one type of film. Happily I feel like each one has been very different, whether I’ve been in comedies, dramas or the horrors.
In The Woman, you play a feral wild woman, yet in White Settlers you play a strong woman that has lived a normal life among society, how different was it, for you, getting into these very different roles?
The Woman was a role I loved getting into. She summoned all that is animal and survivalist in me. Funnily enough Sarah becomes a survivor too, just on a different level, obviously. I always enjoy my research but with Sarah I didn’t have to take my research to such extreme places like camping out alone in the wilderness or stripping myself bare of my modern societal constraints. With her I had to work more on my relationship history and find triggers for fear and loss. For the woman those feelings of loss were for her freedom, the hunt, and her need to create a family…actually, other than the hunt, Sarah’s were not so different but she doesn’t think in the same way as The Woman, and her confusion and fear hampers her much more.
If the intruders had broken into any house that The Woman lived in she would just tear them to pieces!
Your character, Sarah, begins the film as a down-to-earth and happy character, and finds herself forced into brutal and extreme circumstances. Did you connect with Sarah, and did you sympathize with her situation, considering how unrelenting and harsh it was?
Oh of course. I won’t tell you what I used as her triggers but it certainly felt harsh in the moment.
I’m not like Sarah at all as a person but I totally connected with her whilst playing her.
What would you say sets White Settlers apart from the pack of other home invasion titles that have hit the marketplace in the last year or so?
To be honest I haven’t seen any! I must see You’re Next as I recently met the filmmakers who are lovely and I am aware that I’m woefully behind when it comes to horrors but then, I scare easily!
I loved the atmosphere and tension in the film, it’s something I feel is missing from so many horror films today. Was it an intense film to shoot? What was the shooting like, and how did your experience differ from previous films you’ve done?
It was intense, yeah. Any indie on a tight budget, right for time and which you want to be the best it can be is intense to shoot. Add night shoots, cold, wind, rain, crawling and running around in forests, amongst a real working farm (and all that entails!) and screaming your head off being attacked in the house scenes plus gore stunts and some make out scenes with power play in them and…well, it was all rather fun!
What do you have planned in the near future? Are you working on any other movies right now?
I’m currently in development on my own feature film, a comedy called Perfect, and I’m looking forward to shooting British Amicus-style horror, It’s Walls Were Blood at the end of the year. It’ll be a dark little bloody comedy with a great British cast.
I would like to extend my thanks to Pollyanna McIntosh for taking the time to answer my questions. I look forward to following her career in the future. It was a real honour.
For those who would like to check out White Settlers for yourself, you can pick up the film on DVD on Amazon, here.
Please, if you haven’t already, also check out my White Settlers Review and my interview with White Settlers director Simeon Halligan.