30th Jan2018

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Iona McKeown talks ‘Pumpkins’

by Philip Rogers

Pumpkins is new 80’s style horror from writer and director Maria Lee Metheringham, which premiered at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Sunday 21st January. I got chance to ask actress Iona McKeown a What we can expect from the film, what preparation she done for the role and what makes Pumpkins stand out in the genre.


What can we expect from the film Pumpkins?

You can expect a salute to the 80’s slasher Horror genre. I feel that Pumpkins is quite self-deprecating in its approach with its array of (at times slightly oblivious characters) getting picked off one by one, some untimely deaths and a great soundtrack!

Can you tell us a bit about your character?

Jen initially comes across as the cold, sarcastic, uncompromising member of the survival group who is intolerant of idiocy. As the plot develops and friendships grow between the other group members we see that she is brave, strong and a real leader, willing to put her life on the line for the others.

How did you become involved in the film?

Maria is actually my Auntie however when she asked me to play the role of Jen she stressed that it was only because she had seen my work, thought I was good and I would suit the role.

What preparation did you do for the role?

I am a really big fan of American Horror Story (2011- ) and I think they have some incredible strong female characters. Sarah Paulson in particular was someone who inspired me for this role, I watched a lot of her work over the course of filming Pumpkins, she nails it every time! I also watched the Babadook (2014). Essie Davis is another actress who I sought inspiration from.

What was it like working on the set of Pumpkins?

It was the most fun I’ve ever had whilst filming. All of the cast were great and by our last day of filming we were like a little family. Maria as a director was incredible as was Gary Anthony Rogers as DOP. Everything was so organised, don’t get me wrong we had a laugh at times especially after a long day/night of filming outside in the cold. However, we all worked incredibly hard to get the job done!

What makes the film Pumpkins stand out in the current horror genre?

I think a lot of horror films seem to have a focus on technology or you can certainly place them in terms of when they are set. Pumpkins is like a step back in time, but you can never really place exactly what era it is set. Based in a desolate part of Yorkshire, Pumpkins has a really eerie understated feel.

What was your favourite scenes to film?

This is a difficult one as there were so many great scenes and I don’t want to give away any spoilers. One of my favourite scenes was standing back to back with Georgia and Craig in the middle of the woods at about midnight. We were surrounded by darkness and we genuinely had no idea where the Pumpkin man was at this point. There was no need for method acting. I was terrified!

Do you have any new projects which you are working on?

I have been cast in another horror film which I can’t say too much about at this point, but it’s going to be pretty controversial to say the least. I have also been cast as Bridie Jackson in the upcoming horror The Shadow Over Whitby.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into acting?

My advice would be work hard and when you think you have worked hard work even harder. I found it really helpful to set small goals every month and then have an overall goal for the year, I also think it is vital to stay in training. I attend weekly classes at IPM Acting Academy in Leeds and I am constantly learning new skills or brushing up on skills I already have. It isn’t all glitz and glamour and sacrifices have to be made but if want it, you can do it!

Pumpkins premiered at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Sunday 21st January at 10:30pm.

For more information on the event and to purchase tickets for other Horror-on-Sea screenings please see the website for details: https://www.horror-on-sea.com


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