EXCLUSIVE: Sam Mendes has begun principal photography on the south coast of England for his upcoming feature, Empire Of Light. From Searchlight Pictures, the drama is written by Mendes — his first solo screenplay — and stars Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Crystal Clarke and Tanya Moodie.
Joining the previously announced cast are Tom Brooke (The Crown, The Bodyguard) and Hannah Onslow (Ridley Road, Call The Midwife).
Billed as a love story set in and around a beautiful old cinema in the 1980s, Empire Of Light will shoot in Margate and along the Kent coastline through May. Produced by Pippa Harris and Mendes under their Neal Street Productions banner, it will be released theatrically by Searchlight.
The filmmaking team is a who’s who of Oscar winners and nominees and includes longstanding Mendes collaborators such as cinematographer Roger Deakins, who reunites with Mendes for their fifth collaboration; as well as a host of other 1917 alumni including hair and make up designer Naomi Donne, editor Lee Smith, sound mixer Stuart Wilson, casting director Nina Gold, executive producer Michael Lerman, executive producer Julie Pastor, and co-producer Lola Oliyide.
Joining the team are production designer Mark Tildesley (No Time To Die), costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Dr Strange, Guardians Of The Galaxy), and co-producer Celia Duval (Belfast).
“I’m really thrilled to be working with so many wonderful collaborators across both cast and crew on such a personal project,” says Mendes. “It’s a particular thrill to be working for the first time with Olivia Colman, and to be working once again with my long-term collaborator Roger Deakins.”
Harris adds, “We are delighted to be working with Searchlight on Empire Of Light, and couldn’t hope for better partners. They have been incredibly collaborative and supportive as we embark on this new venture together.”
“This is a dream partnership for us, between the singular Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, and the outstanding cast led by Olivia, Micheal, and Colin,” say Searchlight Presidents Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum. “We’re very excited for the road ahead.”
Empire Of Light is being overseen by Searchlight Pictures’ Head of Film Production and Development, Katie Goodson-Thomas; Director of Development and Production, Pete Spencer; and Creative Executive, Cornelia Burleigh.
Brooke is represented by B-Side Management and Management 360; Onslow is repped by Gordon and French.
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