A low-budget black and white drama shot on a vintage 16mm wind-up camera has ‘limited appeal’ written all over it. Under normal circumstances, such a film might expect to find a small audience and than disappear from arthouse cinemas after a few days.
But Bait, directed by Mark Jenkin and produced by Totterdown’s Early Day Films, has become quite a phenomenon. With £345,770 in the kitty, it’s not going to challenge Joker for box office supremacy but now ranks as one of the most successful independent film releases of the year. That’s even more impressive when you consider that it’s been competing in increasingly difficult and crowded market for low-budget productions.
“It’s an incredible result,” says Maddy Probst, who manages Film Hub South West, the network which helped the BFI to arrange a series of sell-out regional previews with Q&As for Jenkin’s unusually-told story about the conflicts between locals and incomers in a Cornish fishing village.
“We must also applaud South West audiences and cinemas for being so quick to recognise that Bait fully lived up to its festival circuit reviews as a ‘modern British masterpiece’ and for backing it in such impressive numbers, and with so much enthusiasm.”
Indeed, once the numbers were crunched it emerged that South West audiences make up 35% of those who have seen Bait so far – compared with the 4.9% audience share the region typically contributes to film, including big blockbusters. In Bristol, the film has been showing at the Watershed continuously since its August 30 release. It has also been shown at the Everyman, the Cube and the Curzon cinema in Clevedon.
Among the locals who’ve queued up to praise Bait on social media social media are actor Dawn French, who lives in Fowey; Bristol-based musician Adrian Utley of Portishead, and director Edgar Wright, who was born in Dorset and grew up in Wells, Somerset.
If you’ve yet to see Bait, go here for full details of where the film is still screening.