South West gets credit for making home-grown feature film a UK-wide hit
South West cinema goers and venues are being applauded for their role in helping make BAIT, a low budget black and white film, shot on a vintage wind-up camera and produced in the West Country, one of the most successful UK independent releases of the year.
The praise came as BAIT – written, directed and filmed by Cornwall’s Mark Jenkin, produced by Early Day Films of Bristol and distributed by the BFI (British Film Institute) – held on to its place in the UK cinema box office top 30 by taking more than £300k in ticket sales in its first month of release in cinemas.
Linn Waite, co founder of the film’s production company, Early Day Films is keen to acknowledge how very supportive the local community has been. “We’ve been blown away by the success BAIT, our first feature film, is enjoying all over the UK and beyond, but one of the greatest thrills has been the response from local people. The support from our fantastic local community is one of the reasons BAIT achieved such a long run at Watershed (6 weeks!) – outselling every other film there this year apart from the star-laden Oscar-winning THE FAVOURITE. We can’t thank south Bristol enough – you made that happen.”
“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, prior to it going on general release on 30 August
“Obviously, the major reason for BAIT’s success is that it is an exceptionally good film – a powerful mix of comedy and tragedy, addressing issues which are both topical yet timeless and told with the aid of film-making techniques which are interesting, unusual and honest.”
But, speaking ahead of a meeting of the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) in Bodmin today, she added: “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. They have played a major role in creating the buzz around BAIT as did its Bristol based producers and Cornish director Jenkin who went out on the road in support of the film.”
A stand-out statistic Maddy Probst will share with the Bodmin meeting is 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.
Among the many hundreds of South Westerners who have taken to social media to praise BAIT are actor Dawn French, who lives in Fowey; Bristol-based musician Adrian Utley (Portishead) and the film director Edgar Wright, who was born in Dorset and grew up in Wells, Somerset.
As of today, BAIT has been shown at 124 cinemas UK-wide and taken £345,770 at the box office. Another 37 cinemas have booked to show it between now and the end of the year including venues in Devon, Dorset and Gloucestershire. For details, see https://www.bfi.org.uk/whats-on/bfi-film-releases/bait.
BAIT is a BFI release, written, directed and shot by Mark Jenkin and produced in Bristol by Linn Waite and Kate Byers of Early Day Films. As well as being shot and produced in the South West, the film’s stars – Edward (Kernow King) Rowe, Giles King, Mary Woodvine and Simon Shepherd – are all West Country based, too.