A 20,000 sq ft sound stage enclosure is to be installed at Dreamland for filming of the latest project by director Sam Mendes early next year.
An application for the temporary build, on the site known locally as ‘Godden’s Gap, which has planning approval for Margate Estate’s proposed 124-bed seafront hotel, has been lodged with Thanet council.
The stage and production site will be used by the director and screenplay writer for love story Empire of Light. The film will be set in and around a beautiful old cinema – Dreamland’s Grade II* listed venue- on the South coast of England in the 1980s. It will star award-winning The Crown actress Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, of Top Boy fame.
Mr Mendes is known for works including James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre and the war film 1917 as well as numerous West End stage shows. He has written Empire of Light, making it his first original solo screenplay. He will also direct and produce with Pippa Harris of Neal Street. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who won an Oscar for best cinematography at the Academy Awards for his work on 1917, is also involved.
The stage/film production building will be an arched frame covered in PVC and ply and will be sound attenuated inside. Documents for the project by Serious International say: “The demountable stage construction will form part of the Dreamland complex and will build on what is already a hub for media activity. The stage can be considered as a large opportunity to drive economic growth in Margate, addressing the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The stage/production space will be useable from January and removed by June 1, 2022.
Margate Estates Ltd has also begun preliminary works on the hotel at the site including preparing the ground and surveying. Work will continue after the temporary film site has been removed.
The filming industry is a valuable source of income for Thanet. In 2020/21 Thanet council estimates the value was in excess of £770,000.