Scott Hicks has started shooting UK-Australia co-production The Boys Are Back In Town, which is billed as a love story between a single parent, played by Clive Owen, and his two sons.

The producers Tim White (Two Hands) and Greg Brenman (Billy Elliott) have sold North American rights in advance, which is rare for a film made in Australia. Miramax has these and other key European rights and Hopscotch Films will distribute locally. HanWay Films is the international sales agent for all remaining territories.

Brenman's Tiger Aspect Pictures and White's Southern Light Films are making the film in association with BBC Films, Screen Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation. The screenplay is adapted by Allan Cubitt from UK author Simon Carr's memoir. Owen, Peter Bennett-Jones, David Thompson and Jane Wright are executive producers.

The story takes off after Joe Warr (Owen), a sports writer, becomes single dad to a six-year old (Nicholas McAnulty) upon the death of his wife (Laura Fraser). He institutes a just-say-yes regime but this world without rules swiftly deteriorates, especially when the 15-year-old son (George MacKay) of his first marriage decides to rejoin his dad.

The Australians in the cast besides McAnulty include Emma Booth (Clubland) and Julia Blake (Innocence).

'This emotional and edgy story really captivated me when I read it five years ago, and I am thrilled to be shooting it at last,' said Hicks.

It is his first feature filmed back home in Australia since Shine more than a dozen years ago. He is shooting the film in his home state of South Australia, where he shot Shine.