Named by critic Mark Kermode as the best film of the last decade and holder of the record of most ever votes received in a WFC Members’ Choice vote, this quirky drama wowed critics who hailed it as an instant masterpiece. The culture / class clash between locals and well-heeled outsiders forms the heart of a deeply-felt yet often surprisingly comic morality tale, set in a coastal village where tourism has replaced fishing as the main industry.
While deeply rooted in writer / director / cinematographer Mark Jenkin’s native Cornwall, the story has resonance around Britain’s coastal areas, and has become even more relevant since release: locals complained of an influx of ‘second homers’ spending lockdown in Cornwall, and coastal / rural housing markets are currently experiencing an upsurge in demand from city dwellers seeking to relocate partially or completely.
Jenkin told British Cinematography how the unique visual and audio aesthetic of the film was achieved. After early successes in short films and music videos, he became disenchanted with the lack of creativity involved in digital film-making. He moved back to Cornwall to become an ultra-low budget independent filmmaker, to focus on his “innate love and obsessive passion for celluloid film … some of the attraction is the aesthetic, some of it is the workflow, and some of it is the sheer physicality and tactile nature.”
Bait was shot on location in Cornwall on 16mm film, using clockwork cameras operated and loaded by Jenkin, without location sound. Jenkin hand-developed the rolls over the course of three months in his own studio: imperfections (e.g. scratches to the negative from his clothing) were embraced as contributing to the film’s style. The rolls were then shipped to Kodak Film Lab for further technical processing after which Jenkin added dialogue, music and sound effects.
One of the defining British films of the Decade. Mark Kermode, The Guardian