Arts Muse talks with Simon Pearce; one of the leads of the new British web series ‘Horizon’
Hi Simon, lets talk about the web series first, what is is about?
Horizon follows a group of five friends whose lives are thrown into chaos when a mysterious alien ship arrives in the skies over their home town. Making plans to evacuate, they are forced to contend with a city in panic, looters, and the threat of military attack. Over the course of the 10 short episodes we follow the group as they attempt to round up loved ones and make their escape, all the while teasing the bigger question – who are these visitors and why are they here?
What attracted you to play in Horizon?
Initially I came on-board as a co-producer and writer. Paul Dudbridge, the series director, came to my writing partner, Chris Marshfield, and myself with the concept for the show and the three of us worked together to hash out the story and characters. Though I work pre-dominantly behind the camera, both as an editor and director, I do have a small background in acting – having appeared in a few short films and TV dramas in the past. Part way through the development process Paul suggested I actually play the character of Dan, something I was a little reluctant about at first. We already knew some of the other actors we were going to cast and I didn’t want to put myself in amongst them unless I felt I could do a decent job with it. As we fleshed the story out more and more however, I began to feel more confident about the idea and frankly knowing some of what we were going to be putting these people through made it hard to resist! A lot of the characters I’ve played in the past tend to be the shy or nervous ones, or a little nerdy, whereas in this I would have the opportunity to play someone a bit stronger, not to mention do things like hang upside down in cars and dive out of explosions! It was a lot of fun to make and I’m glad I did it. It was a great experience. Our remit when writing the show was simply to have fun, so it would then hopefully be fun for our audience – and that’s very much what we did!
You have worked with a part of the cast before, how did this influence you performances? Did it make it difficult to leave the previous character behind?
I would say it made things easier – certainly for me having not done it regularly, it was a very comfortable environment to perform in and given I’d worked with a few of them before we were able to quickly fall into a rhythm. This helped a lot with the pace of the show because we were often shooting 5 or 6 pages of script a day (the aim was to do one episode each day) which is quite a lot – and being able to move fast was key. There wasn’t a lot of time to do multiple takes or rehearse. We had to just kind of go with it and trust each other. I think all the cast did an amazing job with that.
You have worked in front and behind the camera, which one do you prefer more?
I definitely prefer directing – that is my first love. I love to be involved in something from its conception, shaping the story, crafting it further during the shoot, and then ultimately putting everything together in the edit. Even on this project whilst I was appearing in front of the camera I worked on the scripts and the final cut with Paul. I just enjoy telling stories and that won’t change. Directing is very much what I’m pursuing as a career – but that being said, I’ve always enjoyed acting – and I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever completely leave behind. I think I’ll need to do it every now and then when the right project comes up just to get it out of my system!
Thank you for your time Simon!