Avatar actor Sam Worthington will trade the "smurf suit" for the boardies as he rides his way into Western Australia next week to shoot new surfing film, Drift.
Worthington, who grew up in the region before he reached international superstardom after James Cameron's massive sci-fi flick in late-2009, joins other homegrown talent Myles Pollard (Wolverine) and Xavier Samuel (Twilight Eclipse) in the $11 million character-based action/drama.
Other cast members include Lesley-Ann Brandt (Memphis Beat), Robyn Malcolm (Outrageous Fortune), Steve Bestoni (Underbelly) and Aaron Glenane (The Black Balloon).
The Morgan O’Neill-penned film, set in the 1960s and 70s, follows the Kelly brothers (Pollard and Samuel) after their mother escapes from Sydney to the Margaret River, where the brothers spend their youth searching for the perfect wave. Out of necessity the family launches a backyard surf business – re-thinking board design, crafting homemade wetsuits and selling merchandise out of their van.
Battling big waves, small town conservatism and criminals, the brothers give rise to a global brand. A story of passion, corruption, friendship and loyalty, deadly addictions and fractured relationships. Drift tells a tale of courage and the will to survive at all odds.
Distributed by Hopscotch, the film will be directed by O’Neill and debutant Ben Nott (the commercials and action sports film director).
“Drift will resonate internationally on many fronts," the directors say in a statement.
"The story is about the birth of the relationship between Australian surf culture and global youth culture that still resonates around the globe today. The wandering surf lifestyle is now the mystical ‘dream life’ for many, but in the early days the quest for freedom was a perilous and uncertain journey."
Producer Tim Duffy, who came up with the original story with O’Neill, said local cast and crew, suppliers and businesses, and even local surfboards were being used in the World Wide Mind Films production. He will undertake producing duties alongside Pollard and Michele Bennett (Chopper).
“We are receiving generous support from the local region in the making of Drift and the film will put not only the amazing landscapes on the international stage, but the South-West region as a whole,” the Let’s Talk About Sex co-producer said.
More than 70 Western Australian crew will work on the six-week shoot.
As reported by IF in March, the film marks the WA government's largest ever single commitment to a feature film – $1.5 million – with two-thirds drawn from the government's Royalties for Regions fund and the remainder from ScreenWest's Production Attraction Fund. It also has local support from the shires of Augusta-Margaret River, Busselton, Tourism WA and the Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association. Other funding came from Screen Australia and Screen NSW.
Drift will be shot on the remote Western Australian coastline including locations from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, the Margaret River, Augusta, Gracetown and Nannup. Many of the surfing scenes will take place at Margaret River’s Surfer’s Point, while some background footage will be used from last April's Margaret River Pro competition.