East Sussex coastal locations for starry new feature film

Filmed in Hastings, Bexhill, Brighton and Eastbourne, the film Brighton brought together actors Larry Lamb (The Hatton Garden Job, EastEnders), Phil Davis (Vera Drake, Riviera), Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey, The Full Monty) and Marion Bailey (Peterloo, Allied).


The film will be available to buy on DVD from Asda and Morrison stores, plus online on Amazon. It will be able to be streamed on Amazon, Google Play, Apple TV and Hulu – supermarkets and streaming all from June 7.

The film was co-written and directed by Stephen Cookson (Stanley, A Man of Variety, My Angel).

Stephen, who lives in Rye, said: “I felt filming went really smoothly, mainly because we had such a talented crew many of whom found in the local area.

“It was great to give opportunities to budding filmmakers seeking experience and looking to work on a feature film rather than shorts.

Brighton was originally a successful stage play written by Steven Berkoff called Brighton Beach Scumbags. It was performed in the 1980s to rave reviews.

“I had worked with Mr Berkoff previously on a couple of films and almost as soon as he told me about this play, I was determined to make it.

“It’s based on Steven’s experiences meeting Cockneys in the east of London, many of them traders on the markets who had fond memories of visiting Brighton in the 1950s and 60s when they were young.

“Our story is about a couple of friends who haven’t visited the stoney beach since they first met and when they get down there, Brighton in the 1990s, which is when the film is set, isn’t quite as they remembered it.

“We got a wonderful cast, many who were already fans of Mr Berkoff and some I had always wanted to work with. Larry Lamb, Phil Davis, Marion Bailey and Lesley Sharp made up the principal cast. The only actor I had worked with before was Mark Brailsford, who is based in Hove.”

Stephen added: “The days of truly independent cinemas are numbered. With the closure of many arthouse screens, films like Brighton may become a rarity. Audiences will probably only visit multiples in the future to see the big franchises and smaller comedy dramas will only exist on TV.

“We were hoping for a cinema release. With the well-known names several companies were interested in distributing the film theatrically. That has all changed in the last 12 months.

“We are getting a national release, but it will only be available in supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrisons) on DVD and to stream on places like Sky and Amazon.

“It’s a shame most people won’t get to see Brighton in a packed cinema as you really can’t beat the atmosphere especially when you have a comedy like this.

“We have shown Brighton at quite a few film festivals and it premiered in Dinard in front an entirely French audience who seemed to enjoy it. We also went to a festival (pre-Covid) and showed it to a German audience without any subtitles and the Q&A went on for hours afterwards.

“So it was a good early sign the film works internationally. I think if you touch on a universal subject and story, it will hopefully resonate wherever people watch it. As an artist as long as your work gets seen, I think that it a priority. I will miss not making films for the silver screen, but maybe I will. Who knows until we all get back to normal.

“Filmmaker Mike Leigh told me in Dinard that many more people were likely to have watched his last movie Peterloo streaming it rather than some of his previous work which went into cinemas. So if as a filmmaker you’re only interested in widening your audience, pulling in people at home may not be such a bad thing.”

Stephen added: “For location shots, we did a lot of visiting in towns along the south coast, from Margate to Brighton and felt Hastings had the look we needed, as Brighton is a bit too modern now for the time period the movie is set in.”

“Hastings is really nice and we’ve used a lot of local people as part of the crew, such as students, and those working as runners. The local community has been fantastic and supportive, helping when it can.”