By Simon de Bruyn

Preliminary casting has been announced for the $2 million indie-thriller Crush, which is slated to begin filming in Perth in early January; however the production house Nexus 6 Films has remained coy on its ‘big name’ male lead.

The film – which has secured a United States distribution guarantee on the back of this lead casting – marks the directorial debut of West Australian screenwriter John V. Soto, who in addition to the Crush script also wrote Prey, the $3.5 million supernatural horror film currently in post-production.

Crush tells the story of Julian Meadows, an American exchange student and disgraced Tae Kwon Do champion whose life is transformed into a living hell after being seduced by the mysterious yet beautiful, Anna.

Nexus 6 Films producer Deidre Kitcher told Inside Film the second male and female leads will be played by Christian Clark and Gemma Pranita respectively. While Clark has recently secured parts in features such as Prey, Gabriel and psychological thriller Gates of Hell, Pranita is a recent graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Kitcher said Pranita came to the filmmakers’ attention when she worked on the 3 minute, $20,000 short preview of the film that Nexus produced to garner the interest of private investors. The entire $2 million film was privately financed on the back of this preview.

‘We saw the funding bodies as too political and bureaucratic and didn’t have the time to go through those processes. The investors were there and keen to invest and we wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as we could,’ she said.

Final casting on Crush will be announce by the end of the week, with the producers teasing that a Australian rising star has been secured for the lead role of Julian.

‘We are finalising negotiations to bring one Aussie star home from Hollywood this Christmas to assume the lead role of Julian, so watch this space,’ said Kitcher.

Filming of the $2 million dollar thriller will take place in and around Perth from 2 January to 8 February 2008. Crush is planned to open in cinemas across the US in Autumn 2009, with an Australian release expected later that year.

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