First-timer to direct serial killer thriller

Producer-writer-actor Gary O’Toole has some time to kill while he waits for several feature projects to percolate so he’s decided to make his directing debut on a micro-budgeted psychological thriller.

The founder of Red Rock Pictures, he plans to shoot the first scenes of The Lucifer Killings in the Victorian snowfields next month and to start full production in Melbourne in November.

Based on Tell the Devil I Said Hello, a short film he directed, the film is set in New York and follows the hunt for a serial killer, a Russian immigrant named Daniel, who uses his profession to cloak his homicidal tendencies.

The twist: Daniel kills only bad people. “I want to make audiences feel a bit un-nerved by that,” O’Toole tells IF.

Suzie Whyte will play the cop in charge of the investigation as well as serving as production manager.  Connor James and James Clarke are cast as brothers who bully and beat Daniel in his youth. O’Toole aims to lock in other cast next week.

At this stage he intends to play the lead but says, “If it turns out I am wearing too many hats I will step away from playing Daniel.”  He decided to set the film in New York in hopes of maximising its international appeal.

A former cop, nurse and captain in the British Army, O’Toole says everyone involved in The Lucifer Killings will defer their payments and he’s been able to cadge the free use of the camera and sound equipment. He plans to shoot guerrilla-style with a small crew.

Among the more ambitious projects he is developing is supernatural thriller Nulla, which will star Black Sails’ Rupert Penry-Jones as a British soldier, an Iraq veteran, who sets out to drive from Melbourne to Perth with a buddy, a fellow soldier. En route there’s a horrific accident. He’s in final negotiations with an Aussie as the co-lead.

Also on the slate is While It Lasts, a teen drama based on a best-selling novel by American author Abbi Glines. The protagonist is Cage York, who looks set for a baseball scholarship for college until a DUI. His coach orders him to spend the summer baling hay where he meets the uptight Eva Brooks, whose long-time beau Josh has just been killed along with four other soldiers near Baghdad.

Aussie actor Addam Bramich, who will co-produce, is keen to play York, and Guy Sebastian is attached to make his acting debut as the lead singer of a small town rock band who has numerous addictions, including women.