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The only Australian film to screen at the recent Venice Film Festival was Bait 3D, in which customers at a coastal supermarket become the bait. It was a complex and challenging film to make, as director Kimble Rendall tells Andrew L. Urban – but he threw himself into it, body and song.

Talk about throwing yourself into it wholeheartedly – director Kimble Rendall even sings the end-credits song, Mack the Knife, recorded with his purpose-built trio. It’s a punk version of the jazz standard, whose lyrics famously start with “Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear …” Although in Bait 3D, them teeth ain’t too pretty.

That song may be the one thing that stays in English when the film is released across 1,700 screen in China very soon after the film’s Australian release (September 20, 2012). “That’s as big a release as a Hollywood movie gets,” says Rendall, but most of the screens will be showing a dubbed version . . . except for Mack the Knife. (The lyrics continue: ‘When that shark bites with his teeth, dear / Scarlet billows, they begin to spread’)

Bait 3D is a shark attack horror movie: a freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building - along with a couple of 3.6 meter (12-foot) Great White sharks. The Chinese apparently love it. So does Alberto Barbera, the director of the prestigious Venice Film Festival, where Bait 3D had its world premiere at a special out of competition midnight screening. It was the only Australian film at the festival, “because Alberto loves the film and wants to broaden the festival’s appeal,” Rendall explains.

"Of course I was very excited and was happy to go to Venice"

“I was sitting at my computer at home when the invitation from Venice popped up – I couldn’t believe it. Of course I was very excited and was happy to go to Venice, where I had worked for five months on Casanova. The audience at the screening was very vocal! And amazingly, it was the first film in the festival that the critics saw…” (Some of them were luke warm in their responses, but Rendall found plenty of positive reactions ….)

The Australian/Singapore/Chinese co-production, co-written by Russell Mulcahy and John Kim, had a budget of $20 million, “but it would have cost $40 or $50 million if a studio made it,” he says, “and we had to be very clever to stick to the budget,” he says during a Sydney promotional tour.

The film was incredibly complicated to make, with two huge sets, “basically two swimming pools with supermarket shelving and fittings sunk into them,” as Rendall puts it. The challenges included lighting and camera access, not to mention the noise. “The constant water dripping and the shark – the shark was noisy.” Of course it was; it was a mechanical (animatronic) monster.

The cast (who had to re-record all their dialogue in post production] were not mechanical. Everyone delivered pretty naturalistic performances – except Dan Wyllie, whose crazed character, Kirby, was entertainingly exaggerated. “At first I was concerned,” says Rendall, “but then I realised it could well work.”

Other challenges included a lot of water, a fluffy dog and 13 characters to juggle.

"some directors would have curled up in the foetal position"

But Rendall wasn’t fazed. The producers had approached Kimble Rendall to direct knowing he had worked as Second Unit Director on some of the largest films that have been made in Australia, including The Matrix Trilogy, The Knowing, Ghost Rider and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Executive Producer Chris Brown was confident that Rendall could handle a film; “I know some directors would have curled up in the foetal position in the corner, but Kimball sailed through it.”

At the time, Rendall was finishing work on The Killer Elite in Melbourne and he was immediately attracted to the project. “I’m interested in genre films. I’m interested in making films that already have an audience. For the last 10 years I’ve been working the Hollywood systems specialising in action with visual effects with every intention of bringing the expertise back to make the films here in Australia. I’ve had to wait a while for the opportunity because Australia doesn’t tend to make these types of films. I think it’s time the Australian industry embraced making commercial films. A good story combined with action and visual effects is what interests me.”

"another horror movie"

Needless to say, he “loved the whole thing” and is looking forward to seeing how audiences respond. He’s also working on several new projects, including a screenplay for another horror movie – “this time with spiders…”

Published September 20, 2012

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Kimble Rendall


Bait 3D

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