Swanage born Hot Fuzz film director becomes patron of The Mowlem

One of the UK’s best-loved film directors, Edgar Wright, has been revealed as the first ever patron of the Swanage theatre in Dorset, after a chance meeting while returning to his home town for his brother’s birthday.

Edgar, whose films include fan favourites Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, lived in Swanage for the first seven years of his life and has fond memories of watching movies in The Mowlem as a boy.


The Mowlem has its first patron in film director Edgar Wright

Back in town for brother’s 50th birthday

On a short break to Swanage in August 2022 for his brother Oscar’s 50th birthday, he stepped through the doors of The Mowlem for the first time in four decades.

He asked to take a look inside and The Mowlem’s operations manager Thomas Curtis was delighted to show him around.

Edgar, pleased that The Mowlem was still showing movies, posted photos of him and his brother in the auditorium on social media for all his 645,000 Instagram followers to see.

He has since been in discussions with the new board of trustees at The Mowlem with whom he shares a vision of promoting cinema within the community, and was announced as the first patron of the seafront arts hub on Wednesday 15th March 2023.


Edgar Wright is a champion of independent film makers

A genuine connection to Swanage

Paul Angel, chair of the Mowlem Institute Charity, said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to present Edgar Wright as the first patron of The Mowlem. Edgar is one of the most distinctive and influential filmmakers working in the UK today and it was fantastic to find out The Mowlem was his childhood cinema.

“We’ve been working hard to generate a feeling of renewal and excitement around The Mowlem, and what could be more exciting than having Edgar Wright as our patron?

“The appointment of a patron was an aspiration stated in our 2022 business plan, but not one we imagined would be fulfilled so quickly.

“Finding someone with an incredible catalogue of work and a genuine connection to Swanage and The Mowlem goes far beyond what we had envisaged, and we are very grateful to Mr Wright for agreeing to become our patron.”


Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz, one of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy

Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy

Edgar and his older brother Oscar grew up in Swanage before their family moved to Wells in Somerset, though he returned to Dorset as an 18-year-old in 1992 to study audio visual design at Bournemouth and Poole College.

In the years which followed college, he went on to direct television series starring, among others, Matt Lucas and David Walliams (Mash and Peas), Bill Bailey, Alexei Sayle, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

His first mainstream film was Shaun of the Dead, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and he went on to direct the other two films in the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, which have a huge cult following.


Edgar Wright (left) pictured with James Cameron, director of Avatar

Creative differences with Marvel

Edgar set up the film production for Hot Fuzz in Wells, where his family still lived at the time, and cast his former high school art teacher in a walk-on part. The film has such a following that Hot Fuzz tourist trails are still run in the city today.

In 2017 his action crime movie Baby Driver was nominated for three sound and editing Oscars, and he worked with Marvel for eight years on plans to write and direct the movie Ant Man before creative differences led him to walk away from the set.

His possible future works include a remake of the Stephen King film The Running Man and a Dreamworks animated project, Shadows, in collaboration with David Walliams.

Film posters outside The Mowlem

The Mowlem has stated its intention to get more involved with local festivals

“Proud to be patron of The Mowlem”

Edgar said:

“I was born and raised in Dorset and lived in Swanage until I was seven. The Mowlem was one of the first cinemas I ever attended, and it was partly responsible for a film fandom that continues to this day.

“Some movies I saw there with my parents and older brother Oscar included the Ralph Bakshi animated Lord Of The Rings, Watership Down, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Clash Of The Titans.

“I returned to Swanage for a break last summer and was thrilled that the Mowlem was still showing movies. Standing in the auditorium again was a very pleasant experience, and I hope to be down again soon.

“I am proud to be a patron of the Mowlem; I’m a film director now, but I never stopped being a film-goer. Keep up the great work.”


Edgar (right) with Simon Pegg, the star of three of his best-loved films

More Hollywood films being made in UK

In a recent interview with Arts University Bournemouth, Edgar spoke of his love of the movies, and how he hoped to be able to play a part in getting more communities involved in being a part of film making.

He told university students:

“There’s a funny irony that there are more Hollywood films being made in the UK than in LA, so it’s very different now to when I was starting out, back then people’s main ambition was going to LA and making films in Hollywood.

“It’s not quite like that anymore; because of the streaming platforms, it’s harder to get people to go and watch a movie at the cinema.

“Smaller movies, more modest movies have gone away a bit, or their equivalent is on TV now. So that’s definitely changed, and not necessarily in a positive way, the majority of films that do well at the box office are the ones that people want to see on the big screen.

“I hope it changes and there are more diverse movies that reach a bigger audience.”

Paul Angel and Andrea Etherington at The Mowlem

Paul Angel, thrilled to present Edgar Wright as first patron of The Mowlem, along with fellow Mowlem trustee and chair of the Purbeck Film Festival Andrea Etherington

A seminal childhood cinema

The Mowlem hopes to be able to welcome Edgar back in summer 2023 to work together on the centre’s mission to connect better with the Swanage community and a plan to invite school children to see more films and productions there.

Laura Dickens, trustee and fundraising project manager at The Mowlem, added:

“We are delighted that the brilliant Edgar Wright has agreed to be our first patron. His endorsement of The Mowlem as a seminal childhood cinema in the 1980s, just goes to show how important it is that we continue to provide top-quality film, music and theatre for future generations.”

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