SYDNEY would seem a natural choice of residence for a budding actor like Brenton Thwaites.
The Harbour city is full of opportunities, even if it is extremely competitive.
But no sooner had the Cairns native moved from Brisbane, after graduating from QUT, than he was called back to the Queensland capital for his first big break.
“My three years in Brisbane were fantastic. A lot of the locations we went to, I had no idea they existed,” said Thwaites.
“It was awesome to be on location every day. Places like New Farm were familiar. It was surreal shooting in bars I'd been going to for, like, three years.”
The 22-year-old is one of five young newcomers starring in SLiDE, Fox8's new teen drama shot entirely on location in Brisbane.
Co-produced by Playmaker Media and Hoodlum, the 10-part series follows 17-year-olds Luke (Thwaites), Tammy (Gracie Gilbert), Eva (Adele Perovic), Ed (Ben Schumann) and Scarlett (Emily Iris Roberts) as they smash their way into adulthood. It would be unfair to label SLiDE as simply an Australian version of Skins.
Yes it's about being on the cusp of adulthood, getting into trouble, experimenting and of course, sex. But there's a distinctly Brisbane flavour, tapping into the city's music and youth culture through the five main characters.
The producers describe the show's soundtrack, featuring many up-and-coming Brisbane bands, including Last Dinosaurs, as “anti-Home and Away”.
SLiDE also has one of the most elaborate websites ever created for an Australian TV drama. Each week a new section of the website will unlock with new games, quizzes, polls, webisodes and chapters of the graphic novel.
The characters (rather than the actors) take on lives outside of the tellie, communicating with viewers via Twitter and Facebook. Tammy has a music blog. Eva's graffiti features in the graphic novel.
The webisodes also make viewers privy to things the characters on the show don't know about yet.
For example, Thwaites' character Luke seems like a stereotypical good looking jock envied by most other guys, including Ed. But there's his home life – his strained relationship with his older brother Dylan (played by Lincoln Lewis), following their parents' deaths, which the other characters know nothing about.
“As the series progresses, I guess Luke feels more comfortable expressing himself,” said Thwaites.
“His vulnerability starts to slide out a little bit. I think it's that thing where you think you know someone but you actually don't. Originally it was to get Tammy. That's the whole reason why he was trying to open up. But it's bulls***. It's not real. He's trying to make it real, while protecting himself.”
Thwaites jokes about suffering from ‘PSD', or post-SLiDE depression. After shooting finished, he moved back to Sydney – permanently this time.
“Moving back down to Sydney was a bit easier,” he said.
“I had money and time. Everything was a bit chilled out compared to some of my mates, who are still eating two-minute noodles.”
But his ‘PSD' didn't last long. Shortly after relocating to Sydney in April, Thwaites scored a recurring role on Home and Away.
He debuts as Stu, another pot-stirring River Boy who comes in to “rock The Bay”, on Monday, August 23. He's full of praise for the original River Boys – Steve Peacocke, Dan Ewing and Lincoln Younes.
“We call them the river dancers,” he laughed. “Lincoln, for his age, he's a fantastic actor. He's so young and he has a great job. Dan's a laugh and Steve's awesome. I learn something off Steve every time we work together.”
SLiDE – Fox8 – Tuesday at 7.30pm