From a career that began with several high-profile documentaries traversing the globe, Mike Eley followed a rather unconventional path to narrative feature films by serving as the cameraman and operator of documentary-style segments on films such as Notting Hill and Love Actually. But it was esteemed director Ken Loach—an experienced documentarian in his own right—who helped launch Eley’s career in narrative filmmaking by giving him an opportunity to work on the director’s film, The Navigators. Eley’s talent for combining documentary finesse and narrative storytelling was perhaps best exemplified in the riveting docudrama, Touching the Void, which earned a British Independent Film Award for Best Technical Achievement.
In the narrative arena, Eley has collaborated multiple times with director Susanna White, most notably on BBC’s Jane Eyre, for which he received both an Emmy nomination and the RTS Award for Best Cinematography. Eley shot the HBO film, Grey Gardens, for director Michael Sucsy, for which he earned his second Emmy nomination. He later re-teamed with White for both the feature film, Nanny McPhee Returns, starring Emma Thompson, and the HBO production of Parade’s End, which garnered Eley his third Emmy nomination.
Eley lensed Clio Barnard’s acclaimed feature, The Selfish Giant, for which he was honored with a Best Cinematography Award from the Dinard Film Festival. Fifteen years after his brief stint as the documentary cameraman on Notting Hill, Eley was reunited with director Roger Michell, only now as Director of Photography of The Lost Honor of Christopher Jeffries, which earned him both BAFTA and RTS Awards for Best Cinematography. The two enjoyed further collaborations with My Cousin Rachel, starring Rachel Weisz, Blackbird, starring Kate Winslett and Susan Sarandon, and what would become Michell’s final narrative film, The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. Other credits include James D’Arcy’s Made in Italy, starring Liam Neeson, Off the Rails, directed by Jules Williamson and starring the late Kelly Preston and Judi Dench, and The White Crow, directed by Ralph Fiennes, which follows the story of famed ballet dancer-choreographer Rudolph Nureyev’s defection from the Soviet Union.
Recent works include the Nick Hornsby series, State of the Union, directed by Stephen Frears for Sundance TV, and two films for Netflix: Simon Stone’s The Dig, starring Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James, and the upcoming The Beautiful Game for director Thea Sharrock (Me Before You).
A resident of the United Kingdom, Eley currently serves as President of the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC).