Harry Melling to Play Alexander Skarsgard’s Submissive in Kinky Queer Romance ‘Pillion’ from Element Pictures, Cornerstone Launching in Cannes

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Alexander Skarsgard (“The Northman,” “Succession”) and Harry Melling (“The Pale Blue Eye,” “The Queen’s Gambit”) are set to lead the cast of “Pillion,” described as a “fun and filthy romance with heart” and being produced by multi-Oscar-winning powerhouse Element Pictures.

The film — to be launched in Cannes by Cornerstone, which is handling worldwide sales — marks the feature debut of Harry Lighton, whose short “Wren Boys” was nominated for best British short at the 2018 BAFTAs, was nominated for a BIFA and had its U.S. premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Pillion” follows Colin (Melling), a weedy wallflower letting life pass him by. That is until Ray (Skarsgård), the impossibly handsome leader of a motorbike club, takes him on as his submissive. Ray uproots Colin from his dreary suburban life, introducing him to a community of kinky, queer bikers and taking all sorts of virginities along the way. But as Colin steps deeper into Ray’s world of rules and mysteries, he begins to question whether the life of a 24/7 submissive is for him. Has he found his calling, or simply swapped one form of suffocation for another?

The film — set to shoot in the U.K. this summer — is an Element Pictures production financed by BBC Film, Picturehouse Entertainment and September Films, who will handle distribution in the U.K. and Benelux respectively. The BFI is also supporting the film. The screenplay was developed with BBC Film and is based on Adam Mars-Jones’ “Box Hill” which was the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize winner. Element Pictures’ Emma Norton, Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe will produce together with Lee Groombridge. BBC Film’s Eva Yates, Claire Binns for Picturehouse, September Films’ Pim Hermeling and Skarsgård are executive producers. Louise Ortega is the BFI’s executive for the project. Heads of department include cinematographer Nick Morris (“Wren Boys”), production designer Francesca Massariol (“The Strays”), BIFA Award winning costume designer Grace Snell (“The Souvenir”), BIFA Award nominated composer Oliver Coates (“Aftersun”) and casting director Kahleen Crawford (“Lost Daughter”).

“Everyone at Element is so excited to help Harry Lighton bring ‘Pillion’ to life,” said Norton. “Harry is a filmmaker who is drawn to risk and fascinated by the potential to find surprising complexity in everyday life. We love this about him and believe that ‘Pillion’ is the perfect expression of his talent, bravery and ambition.”

Added Cornerstone’s Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder; “Harry’s script is equally compelling and shocking as it is funny and entertaining – and one of the best we’ve read in years. The casting is inspired and we are thrilled to unleash this brilliant project in the Cannes market.”

Melling is represented by Curtis Brown and Lucy Popkin at Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher. Skarsgård is represented by CAA and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox.