Photos: Sam Mendes in Margate as filming (and snowfall) for Empire of Light gets underway

'Snow' in Margate for Empire of Light filming Photo Frank Leppard

Filming is underway for the Empire of Light movie directed by Sam Mendes who was in town today (March 1).

There has been ‘snowfall’ on Margate seafront as the production team work on the 1980s-based love story.

Video by John Horton

Empire of Light will star Academy Award winner Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Academy Award winner Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Crystal Clarke and Tanya Moodie. Tom Brooke and Hannah Onslow join the previously announced cast.

Roger Deakin and Sam Mendes Photo Frank Leppard

Produced by Academy Award nominee Pippa Harris (1917, Call The Midwife, Penny Dreadful) and Mendes (1917, Skyfall and American Beauty) under their Neal Street Productions, the film will be released by Searchlight Pictures with an expected date of Autumn this year.

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Filming will take place in Thanet and along the Kent coast until May 21.


  1. Amazing how a film crew can tidy up the seafront and make it look decent, yet the council cant, all the money seems to go on some art gallery !!

  2. Weren’t we previously told that the seafront filming wouldn’t start until Friday 4th March, or did I imagine that? Either way, it is causing absolute chaos, with few (if any) road signs advising alternative routes.

    • Yes Real World, imagine them asking for chavs in Margate to play background roles, they would be overwhelmed.

    • There’s a very good film called Jellyfish which is set in Margate – it’s not comfortable viewing and may offer the realism your are looking for

  3. Yes, Peter you imagined that. It was always starting on 28th Feb. And also – do you have a problem with the arts ? Your comments about this filming, the Granville and the proposed People’s Museum all suggest so. Or do you just feel the need to say something rather dim about every single subject that comes up?

      • From your source Peter 😉

        “Filming for Sam Mendes movie Lumiere (Empire of Light) will begin in Margate on February 28 and run through to May 21.”

          • It wasn’t a closure, just guys with those stop go boards. I was sat in it and was only held for about a minute and a half. was speaking to one of the traffic guys out the window and he was saying that the full closures are the ones listed on here but any others will just be holds like today. Great to see the activity in our little town.

          • Today was not a road closure .. It was intermittent traffic control by use of short holds .. no diversions needed.

      • The traffic management that took place today was stop go and does not require any diversion signs … Traffic was not diverted , it was held for a couple of minutes at a time … Once the full closures are in place diversion routes will be given … As per traffic management rules and laws not just in Margate but throughout the United Kingdom… No holds were used during the rush hour and the reason behind the area being busy first thing this morning was due to faulty lights at the clocktower end of Marine Terrace and Highways attended mid morning in an attempt to fix the light sequence that whilst faulty was jumping from red to green every 10 seconds.
        Hopefully this helps a little way to understanding the traffic management today.

    • No Mr Gordon, Peter is not anti art.He has opinions like we all have and I would suggest you are the dim one for not recognising other people have views .

  4. That foyer set up in the old arcade at the Dreamland complex reminds me how the cinema foyer at the Odeon Ramsgate used to look like (where Icelands is now).

  5. I think it’s great!!
    Actual road closures have been announced, and if you don’t want to be held up for a few minutes go the other way! Great to have a bit of entertainment, make the most of it.

    • Hi everyone ,
      Just a gentle reminder that filming will be taking place again tomorrow in lovely Margate ..
      Most of the shooting will be done at night so should not affect anyone too badly.
      Apologies in advance for any disruption and many thanks as always for the way the filming has been embraced.

  6. I knew I should have been a judge – who is Sam Mendes?

    Sorry but I’m nearly 80 and can’t afford a TV licence!

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