Producer Effie Brown's Duly Noted Inc production company has signed actor and hip-hop artist Mos Def (The Italian Job) to star in and executive produce Bobby Zero, from writing-directing team Markus and Mason Canter, aka The Flying Canter Brothers (Chasing The Horizon).

In his first romantic lead, Mos Def will play the title character, a down-on-his-luck social satirist who gives up his artistic aspirations to work at an advertising agency. The film is scheduled to start production in November.

Mos Def is also set to star in Duly Noted's comedic drama Bury Me Standing, from director Caran Hartsfield, which begins shooting in August. Developed at the Cannes Film Festival's Cinefondation Residency and workshopped at the Sundance Screenwriter's and Director's Labs, the film also stars Alfre Woodard.

Launched in 2001, Duly Noted has so far raised $2.5m of the $25m it plans to raise to finance its slate. The company recently secured financing from Stecchino Productions for Silas Howard's jazz age story Exactly Like You. And it recently completed production on comedic documentary The Reluctant Traveler (working title).

The company's first film, Sundance award-winner Rocket Science, directed by Oscar-nominated Jeff Blitz (Spellbound), will be released theatrically in the US by Picturehouse/HBO on August 10.

Brown herself has producing credits including Real Women Have Curves, Stranger Inside, In The Cut and Everyday People.