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One of the most integral parts of pre-production is the casting – same thing goes for the latest shark horror ‘Bait’. The producers and Kimble Rendall, the director, were aware they needed a really strong ensemble cast and in particular one that would appeal on an international level.
“I did extensive casting in Los Angeles and I met hot up-and-coming actors in America. When we came back to Australia I thought a bit more about what I’d seen in LA and realized a lot of the actors coming in for auditions were Australians. I realized there were all these hot young Aussie actors that were doing really well in the US. It was evident that there was a new generation coming through. We wanted to cast the film with Australian actors that had an international profile.”
A stellar cast of new and established Australian talent leapt at the chance to be involved in the film. The cast includes: Xavier Samuel (‘The Twilight Saga; Eclipse’), Phoebe Tonkin (‘Tomorrow When the War Began’), Sharni Vinson (‘Step Up 3D’), Alex Russell (‘Wasted on the Young’), Martin Sacks (“Underbelly”, ‘Channel Nine’), Damien Garvey (‘Daybreakers’), Cariba Heine HBO’s “The Pacific”, high profile Singaporean stars Adrian Pang and Qi Yuwu, Dan Wyllie (‘Animal Kingdom’), and Julian McMahon from FX’s “Nip/Tuck.”
One of the key relationships in the film is between Josh (Xavier Samuel) and Tina (Sharni Vinson). It was very important to the story line that the actors gelled and made a believable couple with a very emotional back story. Kimble explains his initial vision for the couple, “they are this really classic beach couple. He’s got to be a lifeguard, and she’s got to be a beach girl…when you see the film it works really well.”
One of the key moments for Sharni is when her character “runs into Josh, who’s now working at the supermarket. She’s literally being faced with her past and all that unresolved tension and feeling just comes flooding back when she sees Josh for the first time.”
All of the actors commented on how hard Kimble worked to make the set an enjoyable place to be despite them having to sit in water for the duration of the shoot. The wardrobe department and assistant directors were always on hand with a dressing gown or hot water bottle and Kimble played rock music in between takes to keep spirits high. Cast member Sharni Vinson greatly enjoyed working with Kimble and found him to be a wonderful director, “He has a lot of faith in his actors and it comes across. He gives us a lot of power to make our own choices. He’ll correct us if he’s not quite happy with it, but he’s not the director that sort of tells you exactly how he envisioned it. He really leaves it up to the actors. ‘You are the actors, so act. Do your job, and we’ll see what happens.’ I think it was a brilliant way to approach it, because it gives everyone a lot of freedom to put into it what they feel they can bring…he’s just such a kind man.”
Despite the fact the cast were submerged in water for virtually the duration of the shoot, there were no complaints. In fact, the cast felt that being in water and shooting the film in chronological order really helped their performance. States cast member Lincoln Lewis: “It wasn’t really that hard to get into your character because the shark looked the real deal as did the set. It was just unbelievable, there are bodies everywhere and fake blood all in the water…you could really feel that you were there.”