Acclaimed film director Sam Mendes to feature in Life Cinematic, a new series of television specials from BBC Arts

It was an absolute joy to spend time with Edith Bowman discussing some of the films and directors who have influenced me throughout my career.Sam Mendes
Date: 18.01.2020     Last updated: 18.01.2020 at 00.01
Sam Mendes: Life Cinematic is on BBC Four on Thursday 30 January.
  • BBC Arts announces the opening line up for upcoming Life Cinematic, a new series of television specials featuring world-renowned directors exploring the art of filmmaking
  • Life Cinematic will begin with a programme featuring 1917 director Sam Mendes. Subsequent episodes will feature Shaun Of The Dead director Edgar Wright and Fifty Shades Of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson
  • Mark Kermode’s Secrets Of Cinema returns with three brand new episodes, exploring the subjects of Superheroes, British History and Spies in film
  • The BBC’s exploration of film of television complemented by Inside Cinema, online video essays available on BBC iPlayer each exploring a single topic related to the world of film
  • A long essay special - Inside Cinema: Meet The Family to be broadcast on BBC Four

Continuing its commitment to giving audiences a richer and deeper examination of film with refreshed coverage across TV and online, BBC Arts has announced Life Cinematic, a new series of television specials produced by Somethin’ Else for BBC Four, exploring the art of filmmaking in a completely new way.

Life Cinematic will be complemented by further film programming from BBC Arts, which includes Mark Kermode’s Secrets Of Cinema and Inside Cinema, online video essays available on BBC iPlayer each exploring the most exciting contemporary film releases, classic film anniversaries and significant talking points from the wider world of cinema.

Each episode of Life Cinematic will feature an in-depth interview with a renowned filmmaker, blended with a selection of classic clips that have influenced their life and career. Throughout the series, filmmakers will draw on their knowledge and expertise to shine a light on the artistry of films that they love, be it the perfect protagonist, sound design, chase sequence or simply their favourite single shot. The series begins with acclaimed British director Sir Sam Mendes, director of Oscar-nominated 1917 as well as films American Beauty, Revolutionary Road and James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre. Sam Mendes is interviewed by Edith Bowman.

Sam Mendes says: “It was an absolute joy to spend time with Edith Bowman discussing some of the films and directors who have influenced me throughout my career. I hope this show inspires other young filmmakers to discover these movies for the first time, and fall in love with them too.”

Subsequent episodes will feature British director Edgar Wright, whose cult ‘zom-rom-com’ Shaun Of The Dead rebooted the horror-comedy genre for a new generation and kicked off the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, along with Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, will discuss the cult hits and landmark movies that have influenced him. Scott Pilgrim vs The World, released in 2010, cemented Wright’s reputation as an auteur’ lauded for its unique visual style and humour. Wright’s Baby Driver, released in 2017, opened to an overwhelmingly positive reception earning itself a host of awards, including three Academy Award nominations. His current project is a psychological horror called Last Night In Soho. Edgar Wright is interviewed Robbie Collin.

And continuing the British theme, Sam Taylor-Johnson reveals the films that have influenced her life and career. From her beginnings as a photographer with the world-renowned Young British Art ‘YBA’ movement, to directing the fourth-highest-grossing film directed by a woman (Fifty Shades Of Grey), Taylor-Johnson’s work impressively balances art house and the multiplex. Her first feature length film Nowhere Boy closed the 53rd annual London Film Festival and was nominated for four Baftas, and her latest feature, A Million Little Pieces, was released in the UK last year. Sam Taylor-Johnson is interviewed by Edith Bowman.

Lamia Dabboussy, Executive Editor for BBC Arts, says: “The Life Cinematic specials, along with our Inside Cinema essays and new episodes of Mark Kermode’s Secrets Of Cinema, will provide a rich and insightful exploration of film for cinema obsessives, casual film-goers and everyone in between. I am thrilled that the first episode of Life Cinematic will feature Sam Mendes. He’s a visionary filmmaker and creative and we hope in this programme he can share with us some of the cinematic moments that have most inspired him. Along with Edgar Wright and Sam Taylor-Johnson, he will introduce us to new films and help us to see some of our favourite scenes in a new way. I look forward to announcing our other special guests later in the year.”

Cassian Harrison, Controller BBC Four, says: “BBC Four is the proud home of film and cinema programming on BBC television, so I am delighted to bring Life Cinematic to the channel. This fantastic new series will offer cinema lovers and ardent film fans the opportunity to gain unique and personal insight into the craft of film making from some of today’s leading directors, kicking off on the 30 January with none other than Sir Sam Mendes.”

Other forthcoming film content includes three brand new episodes of Mark Kermode’s Secrets Of Cinema. Upcoming programmes will focus on Superheroes, British History and Spies. As ever these cinematic themes will be brought to life by Mark’s wide-ranging, enthusiastic and highly-personal approach as he unpacks these genres in detail and demonstrates how they work. Viewers will be introduced to a surprising and diverse selection of films, and will also begin to see old favourites in a new light.

Complementing the BBC’s coverage of film on television, Inside Cinema, online video essays produced by Little Dot Studios have been commissioned to tie into a range of the most exciting and relevant contemporary film releases, classic film anniversaries and significant talking points in the wider world.

Behind the video essays are some of the best and brightest critical minds, with commissions in progress from film critic Simran Hans, video essayist Grace Lee, critic and broadcaster Robbie Collin, video essayist Leigh Singer, broadcaster Michael Leader, and writer Christina Newland.

Video essays include:

  • The Long Voyage Of The Movie Spacesuit - a look at everything from obsessively realistic recreations of NASA’s finest threads in First Man, to flights of cosmic fashion fantasy in Barbarella
  • The Menace Of Miniatures - why are we at once drawn to, and repelled by, the creepy miniature world of the dolls’ house, as seen in Hereditary, The Shining and The Lovely Bones.
  • Nixon's America, A Country Divided - during Vietnam and Watergate, cinema fiercely questioned the status quo and biked down Route ’66, long hair streaming in the wind: but did anything really change?
  • The Changing Shape Of The Action Hero - an entirely level-headed look at the changing shape of the male body in action movies, from rugged Dirty Harry, to bulging Arnie, through to the leaner 90s, and today’s buff superheroes
  • When Meg Met Nora - director Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally) dubbed her favourite star Meg Ryan ‘America’s Sweetheart’, we look how that ended up being both a blessing and a curse that hung over Ryan’s career.
  • The Sixth Sense: A Game-Changer With A Twist - how an unknown filmmaker delivered a smash-hit sleeper horror hit, spooked the Oscars and redefined the movie twist ending forever
  • Why Tim Burton Is The Only Director To Get Gotham Right - how an Oscar-winning masterpiece of production design, created by two genius minds, now stands as a Gothic monument to practical filmmaking craft. Tim Burton: The hero Gotham deserves

JH