Fox Searchlight Pictures announced on Monday that principal photography has begun in Toronto on the fantasy starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer.

Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg also star in The Shape Of Water, which del Toro produces alongside J. Miles Dale.

The film is styled as an other-worldly story set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1963.

“I started working on The Shape Of Water right around the time we moved to Toronto for Pacific Rim,” said del Toro.

“Working with Fox Searchlight and being supported by this beautiful group of actors and artists, I feel extremely blessed and brave.”

Fox Searchlight co-heads of production David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield will join vice-president of production DanTram Nguyen to oversee the project.