About Us

Producer MICHAEL RILEY co-founded Sterling Pictures in 1994 and is the CEO.

Michael began his film career with a SKY TV documentary in 1991 about Tibetan refugees and the Dalai Llama filmed throughout India. He then made a number of TV films including FLUSH (Granada TV), MOTHER'S DAY (Yorkshire/Tyne Tees) and EVERYTHING'S FINE (ZDF).

He moved to feature film production in 1995 with Paul Hills’ coming-of-age BOSTON KICKOUT starring Andrew Lincoln and John Simm. The film won numerous awards at film festivals including San Sebastian and Valencia. This was followed by a succession of feature films including RESPECT - a cross-cultural love story, quirky romcom LOOP starring Susannah York and Andy Serkis, gangster spoof HARD MEN with Vincent Regan and OUT OF DEPTH, a thriller with Sean Maguire, Rita Tushingham and Isla Fisher.

From 1997 to 2001 he developed and produced the 10x50 min family saga IN A LAND OF PLENTY. Directed by Hettie Macdonald and David Moore and starring Helen McCrory and Robert Pugh the epic BBC family saga won Best European Drama at the Koln Conference was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award and remains one of the most acclaimed television dramas ever produced in the UK.

His next feature film, Joe Tucker’s irreverent black comedy LAVA, was released by Universal Pictures in the UK to great notices and screened at numerous international film festivals. Then came the innovative cult horror film VAMPIRE DIARY which went on to win Best Film at the 2008 Milan International Film Festival and the drama/thriller OUTLANDERS (Winner: Best Film at Braga Cine IFF and Best Film at CinePobre IFF). He also completed SPOOOKED!, Scott Michell’s supernatural comedy pilot and the short film A GIRL AND A GUN starring Ian Hart, one of the UK’s most successful short films ever in global downloads. Michael has also acted as co-producer on the comedy/drama THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN with Nathalie Press, and produced Gary Love’s thriller SUGARHOUSE starring Ashley Walters, Andy Serkis and Steve Mackintosh released theatrically in the UK in 2007 following a Gala Screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. 

This was followed by WAITING, the hypnotically beautiful Turner Prize nominated installation film shot in Kenya for artist Zarine Bhimji. In 2008/9 he produced the documentary CHINA’S WILD WEST. Filmed covertly in China’s remote Taklamakan Desert, the film received its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has gone on to screen at many of the world’s foremost international film festivals, winning Best Film at the 2009 Anuu-ru Aboro International Film Festival. He then co-produced Jackie Oudney’s romantic drama FRENCH FILM starring Eric Cantona and Hugh Bonneville and acted as UK Producer on the Canadian film THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME starring Kelly Rowan and Rupert Graves. In the summer of 2010 Michael filmed in Madagascar for the documentary ZANAKA, studying Malagasy traditional family life. 

In 2010/11 Michael produced the noir/comedy HARD BOILED SWEETS starring Ian Hart, Paul Freeman, Peter Wight and Ty Glaser and co-produced the dark kidnap thriller DEVIATION starring Danny Dyer. He then completed the genetics/noir thriller SCAR TISSUE and Paul Hyett’s controversial directorial debut THE SEASONING HOUSE (Opening Film of Film4 FrightFest 2012, winner of Critic’s Prize 2013 Fantasporto Film Festival, winner of Critic’s Prize at Denver’s 2013 Mile High Horror Film Festival), released theatrically in the UK by Kaleidoscope. He then produced the satire ZERO alongside Nicolas Roeg and was Executive Producer alongside Neil Marshall on the supernatural chiller SOULMATE (Winner Best Screenplay Fantasporto 2013) from director Axelle Carolyn.

His most recent films include the WW2 action/drama “CHOSEN” starring Harvey Keitel, the critically-acclaimed sailing drama/biopic “CROWHURST” for StudioCanal and the recently completed period horror/thriller “HERETIKS” (world premier FrightFest 2018). 

Through Sterling Pictures he continues to actively develop, package, finance and oversee exploitation of a wide range of feature films.

After university, Michael trained at the MEDIA II Film Business School in Ronda, was founding Head of Production for Arts Alliance-backed production/distribution company Slingshot Studios and is a voting member of BAFTA and The European Film Academy.