Tommy volunteers to be Amelia’s bait boyfriend, but in the game they’re playing it’s not so clear who the bait really is and who they’re actually trying to catch.
Writer/director: Melanie Oates
Producers: Christina Steele-Nash, Brad Gover
The concept of the ‘bait boyfriend’ was inspired by a playful scheme between a friend and me.
We were working on a film that brought all of these new crew members to town and, like you do when you’re among a brand new group of babes, we were discussing who we thought was cute.
My friend – let’s call him Wilf – asks me, “Do you have one picked out?” Then I grin transparently. Knowing me like he does, Wilf asks, “Is it the tall one?” I give in and admit it. I’m very predictable.
So Wilf wraps his arm around my shoulder and whispers into my ear, “I’ll act like your boyfriend and he’ll go mad wanting ya.”
For days he brought me coffees and treats, and hugged me and glared at any man within 10 feet of me. It worked. Just ask ‘the tall one’ sitting next to me.
That was the jump-off point for Bait. Aside from the setup, what I wanted to explore in the film is the fear of telling someone you have feelings for them. Especially if that person is your friend.
It’s something that I know very well. It’s a kind of fear that drives insane behaviour, to the point where you’re so intent on showing the other person that you’re not interested, that you’ll set them up with your friends or tell them in detail about the person you hooked up with last night.
It’s a contest in being casual. Look how cool I am? I don’t care at all. Yet you hang out all the time, and flirt, and have a great time together. You ache and long for them, and they’re right in front you.
Friendship allows you an intimacy with them; a comfortableness that has been earned. The fear of rejection or of losing what you already have just stifles you completely.
You’ve got to take the risk, eventually. Maybe you’ll be rejected and live the rest of your life alone and miserable and never recover from the mangling of your heart and shattering of your soul. Or, you’ll have a big, extraordinary love and someone to scratch that spot on your back that you just can’t reach.
As a reader, my favourite novels are those told from first-person perspectives. I’m obsessed with people and have never met a boring one in my life. I just find people so fascinating. My goal in my films is to do that, what first-person narration in novels allows, to be inside somebody’s head. Their motivations, their subtext, their body language.
I crave to tell the stories of the individual. Intimate, contradictory and complex. I tend to write characters who are imperfect, fragile and on the brink. Which is what I aimed for with Amelia and Tommy.
Amelia is a bit of a mess. She’s 25, she doesn’t have a job or any ambition. She’s single, she’s unmotivated and the only thing she wants to do is hang around her house or party.
She’s shy, but she can turn it on. She knows how to fake it. She’s thoughtful and genuine but has no trouble telling a lie. She’s a bit selfish, she gets out of hand when she drinks, can get along well with people but has a vicious streak.
Tommy is a force. He is 37, grungy-gorgeous and manager of the bar where they work. He is fundamentally unsatisfied.
He’s filthy and funny, quiet and selective. He lacks a filter – sometimes he can be so blunt it knocks the wind out of people. But he’s genuine. He’s sharp and confident and unapologetically himself.
Overall, the film happened very organically. I sent producer Brad Gover the script and he was excited about it. We asked Christina Steele-Nash to come produce as well,
and about a month later we were shooting.
We didn’t have any money but Christina and Brad hustled and called in favours and we ended up with an experienced and talented crew and everything we needed to make it happen.
Finally, if you decide to try out the ‘bait boyfriend’ strategy for yourself, I cannot be held responsible for the results. Use at your own risk.
About Melanie Oates
Melanie Oates is a writer, director and producer living in St. John’s.
She’s a winner of the Percy Janes first novel award and has written and directed four short films (Get Out, Distance, Bait, There You Are).
She was also the costume designer for the feature films Cast No Shadow and Closet Monster.
In 2014 she co-founded Carrie at Heart Production Ltd. with Jess Anderson. She recently finished up season one of a comedy series, The Manor and a short film, Ida Here & There.
Mel is currently in development with her first feature film, Scattered and Small.