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Dominic Minghella to Direct Puccini Movie (Exclusive)

Scapegoat - H 2012
"Scapegoat"

The brother of the late Oscar-winning filmmaker Anthony is prepping a trio of titles with business partner Sarah Beardsall through the duo's Island Pictures.

LONDON – U.K. production banner Island Pictures, owned and operated by Sarah Beardsall and Dominic Minghella, is developing a trio of high profile projects for the big screen.

First off the slate is likely to be Puccini, a film Minghella has written and one which he also hopes to make his feature film directorial debut with.

Minghella, the brother of the late Oscar-winning filmmaker Anthony Minghella, has already lined up German indie producer Rainer Mockert (Last Orders, Taking Sides) to come aboard the €15 million ($19 million) costume drama project.

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It details the story of the Giacomo Puccini, the opera composer who became one of the first stars of classical music who spent the rewards of success from works including La Boheme and Madame Butterfly on speedboats, cars and high living in Italy.

Mingella's script centers around the spell in Puccini's life when, between La Boheme and Madame Butterfly, he was crippled with writer's block and developed an unique relationship with a housemaid that helped him break the spell.

Island's slate also includes an adaptation of top selling U.K. travelog Are We Nearly There Yet? by Ben Hatch.

Minghella is writing a draft of Hatch's humorous book which details the story of a husband and wife team who set off on a round-Britain road trip with their two children to research a guidebook for family holidays.

Dominic Minghella and Beardsall are also gearing up to produce an original script penned by Australian standup comedienne Tania Lacey with the working title Virtually Kitty.

Lacey, who appeared in her own one woman comedy show in Los Angeles and has done stand up in Sydney, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Brisbane, has written an original script.

It details the story of an Aussie advertizing executive who lies about having a job in London in order to get a promotion at work but finds herself fired instead. She then ends up living next door to the man who fired her and who she is also in love with. Chaos ensues as she pretends to be someone else so he doesn't find out she hasn't moved to London for her amazing new non-existent gig.

Mingella's resume boasts being the writer and creator of hit British tv shows Doc Martin and Robin Hood, starring Jonas Armstrong and Richard Armitage while Beardsall, a former high profile casting director, counts The Talented Mr Ripley and TV's Hustle and Life Begins on her c.v.

Beardsall told THR that the combination of Mighella as a writer and herself as a former casting director works for Island Pictures.

"He's [Minghella] good with words and I'm good with faces and that stands up in good stead for making our projects," Beardsall said.

The ambition for the company is to make movies for the big screen and will finance productions on an ad hoc basis depending on the script and scale required.

Minghella said he was enjoying the "creative freedom" after the pair's overhead deal with BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the public broadcaster, expired.

"We weren't allowed to develop feature film ideas through that deal and while it is nice to have someone pay for the overheads of an office and staff, we're now developing and producing what we want. With that sort of [previous] deal you end up running the machine rather than running the projects you want to make," Minghella said.

The duo's first production venture together, an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's The Scapegoat directed by Charles Sturridge and starring Matthew Rhys(Brothers And Sisters), ended up on the small screen first.

With three quarters of its £2.2 million ($3.6 million) budget put up by U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV, it meant the film aired on ITV One despite theatrical release offers from British indies.

It is being sold internationally as a theatrical release and is set to unspool during the upcoming Dinard British Film Festival in France before red carpet event as the only British film in competition at the Chicago International Film Festival later the same month.

Both Minghella and Beardsall are determined to structure financing to make Island's next projects available for all rights including U.K. theatrical options.