Source: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock / Briona Rolfe Photography

Christian Cooke, Ruth Bradley

Production is underway in the UK on Embers, the directorial feature debut of actor Christian Cooke.

The film is adapted by Dave Florez and Cooke from the former’s 2016 play Experience. It follows a sexual surrogate who is employed to help a psychiatric patient overcome his intimacy issues after 18 years of high-security incarceration.

Cooke will star as the patient, with Ted Lasso actress Ruth Bradley playing the surrogate. Further cast includes David Wilmot, Samuel Anderson, Sam Philips, Judith Roddy and Clare Perkins.

The film is produced by April Kelley and Sara Huxley of Mini Productions, and co-produced and financed by Lorton Entertainment.

Mini’s previous feature, Jennifer Sheridan’s Rose: A Love Story, was nominated for the Discovery award at the 2021 BIFAs; while Lorton is known for documentaries including Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona plus music titles Bros: After The Screaming Stops and Supersonic.

As an actor, Cooke is best known for a lead role in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s Cemetery Junction. Kelley and Huxley previously produced his debut short film Edith, starring Peter Mullan and Michelle Fairley, in 2016.

The producing pair describe Embers as “an unapologetic exploration of sexual surrogacy and its use as an alternative psychiatric treatment. It poses the question, why such intimacy therapy isn’t more accessible.”

“Christian has spent most of his life in front of the lens, but he was born to direct,” said a statement from Lorton’s Arthur Landon and Ed Barratt. “His knowledge of story, his vision, the characters along with his passion for the process has resulted in an assured style and tone.”