To celebrate the release of his new film Ammonite, which closes this year’s 64th BFI London Film Festival, we spoke to the brilliant Francis Lee and how he settled on this story for his sophomore film.

Set in the 1940’s, the film tells of real-life woman Mary Anning, played by Kate Winslet, a self-taught but highly acclaimed paleontologist who works alone hunting fossils in Lyne Regis when she is entrusted to care for Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) on request of her husband.

Lee says he came across Anning’s story by accident but was taken with her life as a working-class woman who was born into poverty and had no real education and her life struck a chord with the filmmaker, who is interested in story’s of class, gender and representation.

He also spoke about casting Winslet and Ronan in the lead roles, and were the two he wanted from the start, saying: “I love transformative actors… I was very honored that they both trusted me enough to work in my immersive, detailed way”.

You can watch the full interview below:

Ammonite closes the London Film Festival on October 18th, before its US release on November 13th and in the UK in 2021.