Ben O’Toole (Photo credit: John Russo).
Ben O’Toole is playing the protagonist in Bloody Hell, a dark, comedic thriller which the producers hope to turn into a three-film franchise.
Directed by Alister Grierson and scripted by Robert Benjamin, the film is now shooting on the Gold Coast, supported by Screen Queensland and the Gold Coast City Council.
O’Toole, whose credits include the Roache-Turner brothers’ Nekrotronic, Nicolai Fuglsig’s 12 Strong and Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, plays Rex Coen, an American with a mysterious past who lives in Boise, Idaho.
He decides to escape from his own personal hell by fleeing to Helsinki, where life just gets worse. Caroline Craig, Matthew Sunderland, Travis Jeffery, Jack Finsterer and newcomers Meg Fraser and David Hill play members of a Finnish family.
The premise for O’Toole’s character was imagining what would happen to Bruce Willis as Die Hard’s John McCLane if that character were transported to a horror movie.
“Rex is cool, calm and collected with a dark sense of humour,” says Brett Thornquest, who is producing with his Eclectik Vision partner Steven Matusko and Heart Sleeve Productions’ Joshua Paul and Robert Benjamin.
Thornquest met Paul and Benjamin, who run trailer and marketing company Heart Sleeve Creative in Los Angeles, when they handled his film, Chris Peckover’s thriller Better Watch Out (formerly Safe Neighbourhood) in 2016.
The Americans were keen to get into feature writing and producing and Bloody Hell was one of the projects they discussed.
O’Toole loved the concept and was available to start in April after he’d finished shooting an untitled Amazon Studios pilot from writer-director Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, which focuses on Sara (Lorenza Izzo) and her family and friends who live together in a Hollywood Hills compound.
It is Thornquest’s first collaboration with Grierson (Kokoda, Sanctum). “I knew of Al’s work and he was the first person I thought of,” Brett says. “I sent him the script and two days later he said, ‘I’m your man, I would not change a word.’”
Casting director Amanda Mitchell found Fraser, who graduated last year from QUT as a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting), and 10-year-old Hill. Meg’s character Alia is the biggest supporting character. In a twist, Jeffery plays twins.
Thornquest says: “Bloody Hell marks the first of many feature collaborations between Eclectik and Heart Sleeve. Our goal is to produce fresh and original elevated genre feature films in Australia with our world class crews and exciting and fresh on-screen talent.
“With the fantastic support of Screen Queensland and the City of Gold Coast we feel we’re on the right track to achieve that. We have strong ideas for a prequel and sequel.”
Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira says the production will create approximately 90 jobs for Queensland crew plus two training opportunities as well roles for extras and cast.
“Local businesses from a variety of sectors will benefit from catering, logistics, equipment hire and more with this production on track to deliver an estimated $5 million into the state,” she says.
“We know audiences love to see this genre and we are keen to be supporting content that hits a chord with global audiences.”
Brad Shield ASC, ACS, is the DOP, fresh from serving as second unit DOP on Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs King. Other heads of department include production designer Michael Rumpf, costume designer Lucinda McGuigan and make-up/hair designer Rebecca Allen. JMB FX Studio is handling the prosthetics.
The producers expect to reveal Australian and international distribution arrangements soon.