The last time Australian filmmaker Kimble Rendall was at the helm of a feature-length horror film was the 2000 slasher film Cut, which featured the likes of Molly Ringwald and Kylie Minogue. But make no mistake, he’s been quite busy since then working as a second unit director on films like The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, I, Robot, Ghostrider and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.
Rendall is combining his experience in body count horror and high-caliber action fare with Bait 3D, his super fun sophomore feature outing in the director’s chair opening September 14th in limited release and coming to DVD/Blu-ray September 18th.
Starring Sharni Vinson, Julian McMahon, Xavier Samuel, Alex Russell and Phoebe Tonkin, the film concerns a supermarket that is flooded after a tsunami and the remaining survivors who are trapped inside with two great white sharks.
After the jump, read our discussion with Rendall in which he talks about overcoming the usual tropes that come with this kind of nature-run-amok action, the challenges of shooting in a flooded market set, his next horror outing and more.
Shock Till You Drop: Were you in on the ground level during scripting or did the script make its way to you later for consideration?
Kimble Rendall: No. Russell Mulcahy developed it for some time and he got the project going with Arclight. He was driving it at the beginning. Another project came up, Teen Wolf, and he had to go do that. I was doing second unit on The Killer Elite. He rang me up and said, “Can you help out?” When I asked what it was about, he told me it was sharks in a supermarket. Oh, okay, I’ll be there tomorrow, I said.
Shock: Were you eager to jump in and try to transcend some of the tropes we’ve seen from previous sharksploitation films or was it a daunting task?
Rendall: Well, there was the existing script to go off of and I came in and re-worked it a bit. In the end, I just tried to work for myself and I tried to put a twist on things. In genre films, if you can keep the audience guessing, then great. But a lot of times there are standard things and rules that apply across the board. Did it work for you?
Shock: It did, there were definitely some good gags that worked for me. I’m curious, did you see any similarities or differences in how you handled a shark film versus handling a slasher film like Cut?
Rendall: Yeah. They are different styles, but there are similarities for sure. Both deal with a lot of blood. [laughs] There’s always discussion about blood on these movies. Arterial blood, this blood and that blood. On Cut, we used the blood from Braveheart. Braveheart had the best blood at the time. For Bait, we developed our own. But you’re dealing with different things like how to kill someone or the death of major characters and how to make that believable. With Cut I was working with a script that had been re-written many times, but it ended up being a cult hit in France and other places. Funny one, that Cut.
Shock: Films that are shot on the water notoriously have stories of cast or equipment problems. Did Bait have any fun challenges?
Rendall: It was contained and once they were on the shelves, the cast was stuck there for the period of those shots. I think it was more uncomfortable and claustrophobic for them. But they were soaking wet all of the time. The water dripping on the set was really noisy, the animatronic shark we used was noisy. I think that was more difficult for the actors over claustrophobia. I like to play a lot of music on the set to set the mood. During some of the animatronic shark stuff, because we’re shooting in sequence, when the shark came in the water it was quite creepy the first time they saw it.
Shock: How much development time were you allowed to plan out the tsunami sequence?
Rendall: I actually had a reasonable amount of prep time. Because I had done a lot of action movies, I love shooting action and I try to do as much in camera as possible. We had three or four shots with CGI. I always would love to go bigger but I think what we have is good. It was all big water dump tanks on the set with stunt people and I tried to shoot it like a documentary. We had to do a lot of pre-production to make it safe because it’s got tons of water dropping down on people.
Shock: Talk a bit about working with Julian McMahon…
Rendall: He was great, and I wasn’t sure if he’d go for this. We got along really well during our first conversation and I told him we’d make his character a bit. Start him off as this bad guy who turns things around and winds up saving the group sort of and he really liked that approach. When he came on the set, he was great to work with. I got the impression he had gone to Hollywood and became a bit too big for his boots, as you might say. He was so great. From my point of view, when you’ve got nine actors on the shelves, it was like a theater piece and Julian would help out. We’re good friends now, so that’s a good sign.
Shock: Beyond Jaws, what other shark-fueled flicks do you admire?
Rendall: Deep Blue Sea, I like that one.
Shock: On Bait, what was your favorite shark attack sequence to orchestrate?
Rendall: Good question. The one that was the most timing consuming is when Xavier is climbing along the pipe and he shoots at the shark. It was all about coordinating the plates. I’d say that one.
Shock: What’s this new thriller you’re at work on?
Rendall: It’s something called Blowback, a big acton film set in Sydney, Australia and I’m currently writing a new horror movie for the same company. It’s about spiders, so I’m going from sharks to spiders.