While director Nick Belial and his cast and crew for upcoming crime/thriller “To Avenge” won’t be making it to Ocean City to shoot the movie this fall, they will be in town within a year to begin production on the feature-length film.
“To Avenge” tells the story of Vera Castor, a young woman who takes a post-college graduation trip to Ocean City, Maryland and is sexually assaulted by four young men, two of whom are brothers from a wealthy and powerful family. Vera’s attackers are arrested but released soon after, when the justice system fails in favor of the privileged men; the plot spirals from there as Taarna, formerly a stranger to Vera, seeks vengeance.
In 2018, as the summer season winds down, Philadelphia filmmaker Nick Belial and his crew will be in Ocean City to shoot the independent feature film ‘To Avenge.’ Read our first story on the film here.
Originally slated to be shot on-location this fall, production on the film has been pushed back to September of 2019 immediately following Labor Day weekend.
“We had a major casting change and in the process of doing that we realized to make the film we wanted, the extra time was going to be essential,” Belial said. “There’s only a small window when you’re working in a resort town.”
The five-week shoot in September and October will allow for production after the summer crowds have dispersed, but before many businesses have shut down for the year so that seasonal infrastructure will still be in place.
Have you ever wanted to be in a movie? With the new shoot date now less than a year away, Belial, who also serves as the film’s casting director, is looking for extras for a handful of scenes. Specifically, he’s looking for about 30 Ocean City locals to walk with friends, eat snacks and play carnival games as the part of the story that takes place on the Ocean City Boardwalk unfolds.
“A lot of people from Philadelphia, South Jersey have contacted me who want to be in that scene,” he said. “But I think it’ll be really neat to watch it and know half the extras are actually Ocean City residents… Male, female, young, old. That slice of American life.”
Belial will also need extras for scenes on the Courthouse steps and in Vera’s office, two locations that his team is still scouting for. Anyone interested can read the casting call here and then contact Belial via email. The team is also looking for a large bayside home with boat launches to shoot in, a large modern sailboat for a brief scene, a 2003 Ford Thunderbird convertible in white or yellow, and craft services that can cater 20-30 people for five weeks.
Now that all of the major cast members have been announced, the story’s characters — from the arrogant trust-fund ne’er-do-wells to the strong and fearless women that the story revolves around — have started to really take shape.
“You walk away thinking, women are strong. Women are resilient,” Belial said. “The characters in this film are well-rounded and they’re not one-dimensional, they’re not perfect.”
- Taylor Hay plays Vera Castor.
Actress Taylor Hay stepped in to fill the role of Vera when the character was recently recast. “We are confident that Taylor will shine in the role of Vera as they both share a fighting spirit and a will to survive,” said Belial in Vera’s casting announcement.
The actress was diagnosed with cancer at the age of nine, and today works actively with non-profits benefitting children with life-threatening illnesses, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and the Ronald McDonald House. Hay is known for her work in “The Real O’Neals,” “Strings” and Tim Burton’s animated film “Yes, Virginia.”
- Hannah Kleeman as Taarna.
Actress Hannah Kleeman hails from Philadelphia and has worked on two films that are currently in post-production, sci-fi thriller “Mirrors” and basketball drama “Heart & Sole.” She also recently performed alongside veteran actor Frank Whaley in the indie horror movie “Against the Night.”
Over 3,000 actresses applied to play the role of Taarna. “We frequently heard from actresses who felt that opportunities to play strong, female lead roles like Taarna are too few and far between,” said Belial in the character’s casting announcement. “With the recent success of “Atomic Blonde” and “Wonder Woman” we can only hope a trend has been started.”
- Erika Eleniak as Vera’s mother Denise Castor.
Erika Eleniak has been acting since she was 10 years old, when she played a small role in Steven Spielberg’s “ET: The Extraterrestrial.” Eleniak is an original Baywatch cast member, and is also known for her role as Elly May Clampett in the 1993 screen adaptation of The Beverly Hillbillies.
- Zach Galligan as Vera’s father Glen Castor.
Playing Vera’s father Glen, Zach Galligan is a New York City-born actor and Columbia University alumnus who’s best known for his role as Billy, the young man who’s famously gifted a Mogwai for Christmas, in “Gremlins.” As Glen Castor, Galligan will portray a strong father figure who shares with his daughter a close bond and a love for classic rock.
“Even though he’s like 30 years older than when you saw him in Gremlins, he still has those puppy dog eyes,” Belial said. “We talked about him using those in [one] scene to convey that he’s fighting back tears because he’s a strong dad, he doesn’t want anyone to see him cry.”
- Mackenzie Owens as young Vera.
“Just as a little bit of irony, if you look at her IMDB, she has four different roles where she plays the younger version of someone else,” Belial said. 12-year-old Pennsylvanian actress Mackenzie Owens will play someone’s younger self once again as young Vera, in a flashback montage at the end of the film.
- Bernard Robichaud as billionaire Clayton Danvers.
Cast as Clayton Danvers, the handsome and refined yet cold and calculating billionaire, Bernard Robichaud is no stranger to playing the bad guy: To fans, he’s best known as gun-toting drug dealer Cyrus from “Trailer Park Boys.” The Boston-born actor also had a recurring role on the TV series “Haven” and has written a number of screenplays.
- Kelli Maroney as Abigail Danvers.
Kelli Maroney will take on the role of Clayton’s wife, Abigail Danvers. Maroney first studied acting with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis before heading to New York’s National Shakespeare Company Conservatory, and began her television career with soap operas “Ryan’s Hope” and “One Life to Live.” She played Cindy Carr in the 1982 cult classic “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
- Tom Schmitt as Jason Danvers.
Originally from South Jersey, Tom Schmitt is a graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia and started acting 10 years ago while working at a local Halloween-themed attraction. Schmitt is credited in a number of Investigation Discovery shows, in addition to movies “The Upside” and “They Are Strangers.”
- Arthur Harshagen as Jameson Danvers.
Dutch actor Arthur Hashagen is best known for his role as Timo on the award-winning Dutch television series “Brugklas,” or “The First Years.” Originally from the Netherlands, Harshagen underwent months of vocal training to perfect the Eastern Shore of Maryland dialect in order to portray Jameson, the youngest Danvers brother.
“I had no intention of going real far to get one of these characters,” Belial said. “But he had the perfect look.”
See the rest of the cast on the film’s website.