The Empty Chair

Written and directed by Sye Allen (Beasts) The Empty Chair is a love letter to all those we’ve lost as a result of the pandemic, but it also speaks of those intimate collective experiences that we’ve all missed of late.
In a situation fronted by numbers and statistics, the film takes a step back and speaks of a lost individual, and how the survivor will face the world.

Cinematography by BAFTA nominee Sam Care (Wet Season, Another Mother’s Son, Couple in a Hole) and the performance is read by BAFTA winning Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones, The Witch, Prometheus).
The music is an original composition by Academy Short winner Nico Casal.

Credits / Collaborators / Cast


The George Tavern – Commercial Rd
St. Mark’s Rise Church – Dalston
Walthamstow Football Club – Wadham Lodge
Rio Cinema – Dalston
Protein Studios – Shoreditch
Bottle & Blade – Homerton Rd
Harmony Hall – Walthamstow


Writer / Director / Producer – Sye Allen
Performed by Kate Dickie
Cinematographer – Sam Care
Editor – Chris Roebuck
Production Company – Burning Reel
Executive Producer – Joe Elliot
Original Music – Nico Casal
Colourist – Jax Harney
Sound Designer – Aaron Taffel
Production Manager – Winston Milton
Gaffer – Ryan Delahunty
Spark – Jurijs Subotins
Spark – Luke Maund
Focus Puller – Dave Agha-Rafei
Loader – Joshua Dadson
Loader – Josh Hughes
Runner – Sion Roe
Script Editor – Ryan Baxter
Music Supervisor – Hamish Duff

Note from director

«Unfortunately, many of my close friends have been forced to deal with untimely grief, and conversations with them were the seeds for this project, it will be dedicated to them and all of whom we've lost. Furthermore, the venues we were granted access to for filming have had similar grave experiences. The famous RIO cinema in Dalston, The George Tavern on Commercial Road, Walthamstow Football Club, Bottle & Blade restaurant, St. Mark's Rise church in Dalston; Important independent institutions that need our help, now more than ever. 2020 doesn't have a monopoly on loss but now seems like as good a time as ever to calmly reflect upon it.»

The story behind the film

I was speaking to Sam Care (cinematographer) about creating something to bring us out of the first lockdown. We were bouncing a few ideas around, when unfortunately later that week I helped a friend with a house clearance following the untimely loss of his mother to corona-virus. It was really tough for a number of reasons, and after clearing the living room, one exposed chair was left, which immediately grabbed my attention. It was a truly powerful, heartbreaking image, and the seed for the film was sown.

I knew the film had to convey a positive message, but it also had to pay homage to the grief that so many people are feeling at the moment. I decided to write from a single perspective about the loss of a loved one, and how they resolve to face the world in the future.

What’s interesting is that throughout the process, the film also became distinctly about the loss of intimate collective experiences, and I was personally reminded of how much I’d lost as a result of the pandemic.
That’s one of the things I love most about film. Its ongoing ability to reveal things even to the makers, reminding us of the magic of medium. 2020 doesn’t have a monopoly on loss but now seems like as good a time as ever to calmly reflect upon it.

It was a wonderful process bringing it to life, one of those where everything seemed to fall into place, but the one thing that really made us smile was the light. Even in a couple of venues that we didn’t get to recce due to restrictions, the film gods smiled on us and the natural light was impeccably positioned. Thank you!


Genre: Drama
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Length in minutes: 5’03”
YEAR: 2020