Bait has just rocked Film4’s FrightFest and Dominic Brunt’s brutal new thriller comes out tomorrow. The story of two women, Bex (Victoria Smurfit) and Dawn (Joanne Mitchell), who want to open a café and end up taking money from the wrong man, loanshark Jeremy (Jonathan Slinger), Bait becomes less a happy tale of two friends operating a successful food house and more a tale of violence, survival and revenge.

HeyUGuys went to Leeds on the final days of the film’s shoot, throughout the time on set we were reminded, as you will be too, that an ITV kids show is shot just next door to the set for Bait. The set, we see, is a small bathroom, clean for now, but judging by the three actors on set, about to get bloodied up a ton.

“This is the culmination of the story, the fear and the desperation. We’re very lucky, we’ve got 4 days to shoot it all in, which is an incredible luxury, and we’ve had 2 days on location in my character’s house, I live in Huddersfield. And they’ve rigged the bathroom set here in studio so that we can really mess it up.” Victoria Smurfit explains, “when boxed in a corner with no way out, how far do you go?”

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“Obviously we’re not condoning ‘kill your loan shark’ we’re probably saying ‘maybe don’t go to a loan shark rather than murdering them’ but these girls are in a corner where there is no way out.”

As we watch a few takes of Jonathan Slinger crawling through the gap in the bathroom door, and Joanne Mitchell kicking the door into his head it’s hard to remember that even in the moment there’s precautions and visual trickery, this isn’t hurting anyone. Although one kick proves to be quite real when the hinge breaks off and the door swings around more than expected. Everything’s a weapon in that room.

bait poster“Throughout the house the girls are left, basically, in underwear but everything to go through, phones being thrown.” director Dominic Brunt begins to talk about this so-far 4 day shoot of action in the house, and his love of extended action sequences.

” I like the odd really good punch, but I like the extended ones, and I don’t know who said it but someone said ‘people are hard to kill’ and that’s true. There’s a strangulation bit in this, and the amount of films you see where you go like ‘that’ [Holds hands in front of him] and two seconds later they go ‘Aaah’ [Plays dead], you just go ‘oh’ and get up. Snowtown, the reality of it, the reality of a punch, it hurts everyone involved.”

Being able to take such time on a small part of the film was tough, given the film’s budget constraints, but Dominic happily explains how he’s dealt with it. “You’ve got to plan it to death, make sure you stick to that. Of course with the budget being the budget you go over and you have to adapt, and have to constrain yourself, but we’ve been happy so far. We haven’t dropped any scenes at all.”

Victoria tells of how she and Bait joined forces, “Jo and Dom I was in drama school with, so we trained together. I’ve known them for a long long time and when Jo and Dom did Before Dawn, after that they were thinking about their next project and Before Dawn was such a success for them that Metrodome came on board and said ‘we want to do your next project’ and Jo called me up and said ‘I’ve got this idea for a psychological female revenge thriller, are you in?’ and I was like ‘yeah, sure’. They made it happen, and the script’s great, it’s certainly nothing you’ll watch and not be affected by, whether you agree or disagree with it is neither here nor there, you’ll be compelled to keep watching.”

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Victoria continues with her thoughts on working with friends, and being on set with them, “Working with friends just means you come in on a level where… I just think that actors are called ‘luvvies’ by people who aren’t in the business because actors have an ability to make a friendship, a bond and a family member very quickly. You have to, you might meet them at 6am and by 8am you might be naked writhing on top of them, and by 11am you might be divorcing them and by 2pm you might be stabbing them in the back. You don’t know because you have these extra-ordinary lives and you shoot out of sequence, so you have to get to a place of trust and familiarity very quickly.

“When you work with friends that happens before you’ve walked in the door, so anything else from there is gravy. You’re further up the ladder of trust and boundary-pushing the minute you arrive on set.”

Before we leave them to soak jugs of blood everywhere, and apparently have some half-face-barely-hanging-on fun (Again, there’s a kids TV set in the studio just ten steps away…) Dominic tells of what he hopes to do next, besides sleep, “I’ve got a much bigger film in mind with a runaway train film, with zombies, from Leeds to London, and the driver has turned, so there’s no driver, so the zombies are coming from the front to the back, the people on the back have to get over them to stop the train before it smashes into Kings Cross. That’s my dream, that’s my next film.”

Bait is out in cinemas this Friday, the 4th of September.