I Capture The Castle, BBC Films' adaptation of the acclaimed book by The Hundred And One Dalmatians author Dodie Smith, is to start shooting in three weeks after nearly six years in development.

Subject to casting, the £5.7m project has finally come together a patchwork of independent financing from operations including Distant Horizon, UK tax fund Baker Street Take 3 and incentives from the Isle of Man. Icon is also expected to come on board, possibly taking some rights from Distant Horizon.

Rising newcomer Romola Garai, whose TV credits include The Last Of The Blonde Bombshells and Attachments, has landed the lead part of Cassandra, the 17 year-old daughter of an aristocratic English family in the 1930s who fall on hard times and sell their castle to Americans.

Directed by newcomer Tim Fywell and produced by David Parfitt, who won an Academy Award for Shakespeare In Love, the project co-stars Bill Nighy, who most recently received kudos for his turn in Lucky Break. The UK veteran plays Cassandra's writers-blocked father, while Australia's Rose Byrne appears as her sister. The US' Marc Blucas, whose credits include upcoming Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers, plays one of the two handsome young American landlords, with the other to be confirmed.

Fywell is scheduled to start shooting September 24 in London, Wales and the Isle Of Man from a script by Heidi Thomas, with whom he collaborated on TV production Madame Bovary. The project, at one time linked to Miramax Films, was previously at the UK arm of Mike Newell and Alan Greenspan's erstwhile production company, Dogstar, which was run by Parfitt. Newell is taking an executive producer credit, while Parfitt is producing for his own UK production outfit, Trademark Films.

"The script brought it all together," said Parfitt. "I've been involved for four years, and there have been a number of drafts, but it started really coming together when Tim Fywell came on board 18 months ago."

Executive producer credits also go to BBC Films chief David Thompson, Distant Horizon's Anant Singh, the Isle Of Man's Steve Christian, Baker Street's Keith Evans, Perpetual Motion's Mark Shivas and Icon's Bruce Davey. Mark Cooper is co-producing.