Norwegian sales agent BV International Pictures has penetrated yet another corner of the globe by signing for a film in Australia and another in New Zealand.

The UK/New Zealand co-production Castle Of Lies starring James Caan and the Australian road movie/comedy Thunderstruck are both grounded in reality but there the similarity ends.

Castle Of Lies, set in the 19th century and directed by Yvonne Mackay, is about a young woman who marries a much older member of parliament then falls in love with his stepson. In real life, the devastated William Larnach blew his brains out in Committee Room J of the House of Representatives.

The film is based on a play by Michelanne Forster and was adapted to the screen by UK writer Emma Frost. Mackay has chosen Rosamund Pike and Luke Mably to star alongside Caan. The nine-week shoot is due to commence in late October.

The film will be the third to emerge from the New Zealand Film Production Fund and the New Zealand Film Commission is also an investor. The production partners are the UK's Parallel Pictures and First Sun, maker of The Irrefutable Truth About Demons and part of the prolific television producer the Gibson Group. Dave Gibson is producing and Parallel's Bill Chamberlain is co-producing.

While it took five years to develop and finance Castle Of Lies, Thunderstruck took 12 months despite having first timers in the key roles, namely director Darren Ashton, producer Jodie Matterson, and writer Shaun Angus Hall, who will share the credit with Ashton. Husband-and-wife team Al Clark (The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert) and Andrena Finlay are executive producers.

Thunderstruck is about five friends, fans of Australian rock legends AC/DC, who make a pact that whoever dies first has to be buried next to their idol, singer Bon Scott, who died from choking on his own vomit. That promise sees them set out on a road trip 10 years later.

The Film Finance Corporation agreed to invest in the film this week but eight other companies will be on the final credits with Matterson's Eddie Wong Films. They are pay TV outfit PMP/Showtime, which was the first investor to sign, Icon Film Distribution, BV International Pictures, Legend Films, which has all German rights, Sony Music Entertainment (Australia) and the three State Government agencies, the New South Wales Film and Television Office, the South Australian Film Corporation and ScreenWest.

Matterson believes Thunderstruck is the first film with investment from a music company based in Australia. The intention is to release a single by the five lead actors, who re-form a band as part of the film's story. The search is on for five actors in their 20s who can play characters in their late teens, and their late 20s - and can hold a tune.