The Movie Waffler Interview - PUMPKINS Writer/Director Maria Lee Metheringham | The Movie Waffler

Interview - PUMPKINS Writer/Director Maria Lee Metheringham

pumpkins horror film
Never snatch a man’s vegetables, explains Pumpkins writer-director Maria Lee Metheringham in this exclusive interview.

Maria Lee Metheringham’s atmospheric horror treat Pumpkins is on digital and DVD now from High Octane Pictures.

Assisted by his beloved pumpkins, a sweet farmer discovers that spilling blood is his new found glory to anyone who dares trespass on his private land. Unfortunately for a group of innocent survivalists, their survival skills are soon put to the test and the local villagers are soon dragged into the bloody fight.

Maria Lee Metheringham interview

Most independent filmmakers, I’ve discovered, tend to make movies in which the main subject or storyline is of personal interest to them. Is that the case here – are you a lover of Pumpkins, is what I’m asking?

I'm a big lover of this time of year. I love Autumn and Halloween,  the colours and the atmosphere around this time of year too. Always carve pumpkins on Halloween too and always imagined them coming to life and going about their funny evil ways... strangely.  That, combined with my love of '80s style slasher horror films, is what made this happen.

Did you toy with different incarnations of the story or plot before squaring it down to the one now on our screens?

Not a lot actually. We kept floating between it being about the pumpkin man or being about little evil pumpkins running around killing people, like Gremlins or Critters, and ended up sort of combining the two.

And was there any research involved before putting pen to paper? Pumpkin patch visits, maybe?

Most of the research was done on locations. We really wanted to  get that Autumn, Halloween feel and it was important to have the right backdrop for that. So the Yorkshire moors and Dales were perfect. Very desolate and haunting with a feel of something could be lurking out there. We tried to find a pumpkin patch to film on with no luck so had to just create our own.

How much drafts of the script did you go through? And what did you find you were chopping mostly?

We only did about three drafts of the script and unfortunately the main bits to get axed were really good death scenes. We had some  really elaborate kills in there but I didn't have enough money to hire a special effects team and had to do it all myself. Therefore the deaths were simplified and camera angles were used more to get the effect.

How do you know if your story or script is working? Do you test it on family members?

It’s how I feel when I read though it, how easy it flows when actually writing it and the reaction from cast and crew. I always get them to read the full script and see how they react. If they love it then I'm happy. Always open to suggestions as well in terms of the characters, dialogue etc.

Did you write the film with any actors - including yourself - in mind or did that come later?

Yes, I  did have a handful of actors in mind as we were writing the script and as soon as I pretty much knew in my head who was playing who it made it easier to write the dialogue and build the personalities. It’s always people I’ve worked with previously so have a good idea of their style. I wasn’t originally going to be playing Shelly but the person we had in mind didn't come through. I really liked the character and couldn't see anyone else doing it so I went with it.

Is there anything you had to lose, when the shoot kicked in, because of budgetary issues or another concern?

Yes and it was always down to either budget issues or time issues. The special effects had to be altered when on set and something wasn’t working. Also the ending to the film completely changed as we ran out of time. There was meant to be a whole decapitation scene and a bonfire with farmers driving 4x4s but we didn’t have enough money or resources to do all of that and time ran out. I do like the more mysterious ending though, it’s like the end of Halloween.

It must be hard to ground a horror movie at times  especially one with such a fun concept?

It is and I think you can easily go crazy silly with what you want to do. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that though. I think the kind of horror I'm into is fun horror anyway. Those '80s/'90s horror movies were never really scary but they made you jump, made you pull a disgusted face and made you laugh. I don't see anything wrong with laughing at horror so long as you're enjoying it. Pumpkins turned out to be more of an atmospheric slasher horror.

Can you sit and enjoy it, yourself? Or are you too close to it?

I actually can and I think it’s because I didn't edit the film. Our DOP Gary Rogers did the editing and so I didn’t see the same things repeated over and over again to get bored of it. I really love the music Will and Neil did to match the visuals, that's one of the main things I enjoy seeing is the visuals amped up with the sound.

Do you have a favourite scene in it? Personally, that first kill is a treat!

Oh yes, those characters really needed to die! Haha. My favourite scene is the opening pub scene with all the Yorkshire locals, probably just because we had an absolute blast filming it and they all cracked me up. Really nice bunch of people. It breaks the film up nicely as well I think, and gives it another layer.

Tease us on what’s next?

Well we have just finished another feature film  titled Bite Night, which is a black comedy horror. Some of the main cast from Pumpkins are in that film too. It’s a crazy film - it’s a cross between Haunted HoneymoonFright Night and Clue I would say. I've also been working with a production company in Wales on a comedy feature film called Cowgirls Don't Lie, which will finish its filming after Christmas. As well as that we have a number of scripts for feature films we would like to make, but just keeping our fingers crossed for funding.