From Bristol to the Baftas for production team
Touching on issues of small-town community, family ties and gentrification, despite being a local film, Bait has international appeal.
by Charley Rogers
Bait, a film about the Cornish fishing industry, executive produced by South Bristol-based Linn Waite and Kate Byers, has won a Bafta award for Outstanding British Debut.
The film, directed by Mark Jenkin, premiered in Berlin in 2019, and centres around two Cornish brothers – Martin, who continues a traditional way of life as a fisherman, but struggles to make ends meet, and Steven, who has left his fishing heritage behind to run boat cruises for Cornwall’s many summer tourists.
Filmed in black-and-white with 16mm film that Jenkin processed himself by hand, Bait has a distinctive aesthetic, and a score to match. Clockwork cameras were used for filming, which meant that the entire thing had to be captured without sound, and was dubbed as part of post-production. Jenkin also devised the original score.
Touching on issues of small-town community, family ties and gentrification, despite being a local film, Bait has international appeal. Linn said: “When Mark and Kate were over in New York with [the film], they had somebody who came up to them, who was from Barbados, and said ‘this is my dad’s story’, and I’ve got Croatian neighbours saying ‘yes, my mother lives in a fishing village. This is happening’.”
Bait has also garnered high praise among a variety of well-known film critics such as The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, and The Observer’s Mark Kermode, who cited Bait as his favourite film of the year.
Kate and Linn both attended the Bafta Awards ceremony, and were overwhelmed by the experience. They said: “It was the most fantastic evening. It was brilliant. The Albert Hall is an amazing venue because it is huge but it’s also quite intimate, and so it’s got a fantastic atmosphere.”
Despite the glitz and glamour of attending one of the world’s most recognisable film events, however, Kate and Linn are more excited about the reception the film has had in its native South West, including, of course, in Bristol. Linn said: “The South West has been amazing. Normally, if we’re going to talk statistics, in terms of the box office in the UK – even for big blockbusters – the South West accounts for no more than 5%. But with Bait, 35% of the box office came from the South West.
“So we want to say a big thank you to anyone out there who has seen it, spoken about it, written about it, or spread the word, because it really has been word of mouth, and the support has been phenomenal.”
And it’s not just individuals who have played a role in Bait’s success. Local cinemas and film clubs, say Kate and Linn, have supported the film, and in Bristol the Watershed has been a key partner: “Watershed – we love them. They have been remarkable. Mark Cosgrove as a programmer has allowed the film to grow, and it’s worked; I think Bait was their second most successful film last year.”
Kate and Linn are currently working on more projects as part of their company, Early Day Films, including one that has been picked up by Film Four. Bait will also be released in the US later this year.
Bait is still in cinemas, distributed by the BFI, and is also available online via the BFI Player at player.bfi.org.uk/subscription/film/watch-bait-2018-online. It is also now available to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray.