I recently got the chance to talk to Peter Barfield about his role in ‘The Haunting Of Harry Payne’. Here, Peter talks about how he got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Peter. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Haunting Of Harry Payne’.
Hi Matthew, it is my pleasure, thank you for inviting me.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘The Haunting of Harry Payne’ tells the story of ex London gangster Harry Payne who retires to Norfolk to be close to his wife, driven mad when he was forced to kill his best friend, psychopathic gang boss Eugene McCann. Immediately he is drawn into a murder mystery in which an obsessive local police detective targets him as the killer. Unknown to anyone, Harry has psychic abilities he has always suppressed with alcohol. Now he must confront the supernatural and his own personal demons to save his wife and free the tormented souls of the ghosts that haunt him.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play PC Melvyn Mervin, a rural Norfolk bobby supporting the fantastic Graham Cole as Inspector Bracken and the delightful Fliss Walton as DS Churchill. His nose is a little put out of joint when Bracken is brought in to take over the investigation.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I knew the writer of the film John Mangan through his work with local theatre in the Norwich area and social networking. I heard about the production, thought it sounded interesting and it was being shot in my area so I contacted John who offered me the role of PC Mervin. To be honest it was a much larger production than I was expecting.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
From my point of view I think the fact that the film involved a lot of local talent – from the writer, producers, right down to the supporting artists. Quite a few films are actually shot in East Anglia and why wouldn’t they be, when it has such a diversity of locations at a fraction of the cost of shooting in London. Many don’t recruit or cast from the area they are shooting in.
While the film does have gangsters, it’s not just “another gangster film”. It has a brilliant supernatural-thriller element to it which creates something truly special.
The film stars Tony Scannell, Graham Cole, your good self, Fliss Walton and Oli Brown – with Martyn Pick onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
The cast and crew were fantastic to work with; I don’t think I have been on a set so friendly and pleasurable to work on. I was actually a little intimidated meeting Graham, as a family we would watch ‘The Bill’ religiously when I was growing up. I guess I saw him as an authority figure and he is quite a tall chap but was so friendly which put me at ease. There was a scene with Tony Scannell which involved a bit of rough housing in a prison cell which was quite intense and I hope we didn’t actually cause him any harm. I was not on set when local singer Oli Brown was filming but have been following his work and I am sure he will add to making the film.
In terms of anecdotes, as you know my character’s name was Melvyn Mervin which I found a little amusing. I introduced myself to director Martyn Pick as Dirk Diggler which was met not by the anticipated ice breaking laughter but with deathly silence and a look that suggested the internal monologue of “Who the hell is this moron?”
There was some real life drama when one of the supporting artists playing a fellow officer discovered that we had been issued with genuine handcuffs. Calling the real police was one of the suggestions which I imagine would have been quite entreating but it just so happened that producer/marketer Martin Faulks had a handcuff key on his key chain which did cause amusement. I am assured that he is an international man of mystery.
The makeup girls were very good to me, they basically had to paint my hair when I was not wearing a hat because of a job I had a month before which left me with two-tone hair, so I am very grateful to them.
Let’s talk a bit about you Peter. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I first started acting as a child when I attended a group at the sadly now closed former smallest theatre in the country in Eye Suffolk. I did drift away from acting when I took Art in my options and continued to study Fine Art & Design. I rediscovered my love of acting when working as a model. It was my first supporting artist job, after years of drifting it just hit me like a bolt of lightning, “This is what I want to do and this is where I should be”. Well not the guy in the background pretending to talk but you know what I mean. It sounds a bit romantic and cliché but that’s how I remember it.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
First of all I would have to say: “It ain’t glamorous”. It is a lot of hard work, hanging around, being cold a lot of the time if you shoot outdoors (which I often seem to do) and coffee in my case. You are just as likely to starve to death as you are to break into Hollywood so keep your feet on the ground and have a backup. Ultimately if it is something you have a passion for and not because you want to be famous go for it and keep at it. Even if you just end up doing some armature dramatics you will find it rewarding.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
I have a bit of a passion for vintage things which extends to my music tastes and generally like uplifting feel-good music.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Grayson Perry – I have a passion for ceramics and pottery although I haven’t been anywhere near my wheel in a while and find the way he pretty much reinvented the craft is inspiring. I am also fascinated by the way he views the world with childlike wonder and being quite a reserved person myself I admire the courage he has to do whatever he feels.
- Stephen Fry – apart from being a national treasure and providing great conversation I just adore the man.
- Bear Grylls – he would have loads of interesting stories and I don’t think he would complain about the food.
What is your favourite word?
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I am filming a couple of entries/shorts for Virgin Media soon, one of which I have writing myself which is a great opportunity.
I recently starred in a short film called ‘The Bus Stop’ which was made to help raise funds for another Deep End Digital Film Group feature in which I will be playing a small role as well as co-producing. You can support ‘The Bus Stop’ at sponsume.com.
My good friend James Sharpe and I have a horror film in development and I am currently working on some of the props for a funding trailer being filmed later in the year. The film tells the story of a group of young people who are tricked into playing a high stakes game of dare devised by the devil himself.
To keep up to date with Peter’s work you can visit http://www.PeterBarfield.com or find him on Twitter.
Thanks for the interview!