EXCLUSIVE: February shoot for comedy which Koch will distribute in multiple European markets.

Partners are gathering around Shakespeare comedy Bill ahead of the film’s start of shoot on Feb 10 on location in Yorkshire and London.

Independent has boarded international sales ahead of the EFM while Koch Media, which has been aboard for some time, has committed to distribution in UK, Germany and Scandinavia.

The Cowboy Films/Punk Cinema production will tell the story of “what really happened” during Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ - how the hopeless lute player Bill Shakespeare left his family and home to follow his dream. Along the way he encounters murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth.

The film will star the BAFTA-winning lead cast of BBC TV’s Horrible Histories and Sky One’s Yonderland - Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond – who together will play 40 roles in the film.

The script is written by Rickard and Willbond and developed through BBC Films and Punk Cinema. Richard Bracewell (The Gigolos) will direct. Producers are Charles Steel, Alasdair Flind and Tony Bracewell.

BBC Films, BFI, Screen Yorkshire and LipSync will finance.

Rickard said: “The joy of the Lost Years is we can tell a fun story without trampling on the facts – it gives us licence to take William Shakespeare on a truly ridiculous caper, yet end with him becoming the man the world knows.”