EXCLUSIVE: Boardwalk Empire’s Ian Hart and Sense and Sensibility’s Gemma Jones join rising stars Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu.

Josh O Connor and Alec Secareanu in Gods Own Country

Principal photography has started in Yorkshire on romantic drama God’s Own Country, the debut feature of writer-director Francis Lee.

The cast includes acting veterans Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) and Ian Hart (Urban Hymn, Boardwalk Empire) alongside rising talent Josh O’Connor, whose credits include festival favourite Bridgend, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and Stephen Frears’ The Program, alongside upcoming Romanian actor Alec Secareanu.

Director Lee, whose award-winning shorts have screened at the BFI London Film Festival, Slamdance and Sheffield Doc/Fest, has explored what might have happened if he had stayed in his local community in rural Yorkshire and begun to farm instead of leaving to study at drama school.

God’s Own Country is the story of farmer’s lad Johnny (O’Connor) who has shut down emotionally to ensure the survival of his family’s struggling farm. When migrant labourer Gheorghe (Secareanu) arrives to help with lambing time, an intense emotional relationship erupts between the two men, forcing Johnny to confront what it feels like to love and be loved for the first time.

The film is financed by the BFI and Creative England, who previously supported its development through the iFeatures programme.

Met Film Post and Paul Webster’s PW Pictures complete the financing.

Producers are Manon Ardisson and Jack Tarling for Magic Bear Productions and Shudder Films respectively, with Diarmid Scrimshaw (Tyrannosaur) and Anna Duffield (Donkeys) as executive producers for Inflammable Films.

The film production team also includes editor Chris Wyatt (‘71, This Is England) and DOP Joshua James Richards (Songs My Brothers Taught Me), who won best cinematography debut at Camerimages.