UK director Peter Webber, currently drawing plaudits for his feature debut Girl With A Pearl Earring, will next direct a gritty feature about pickpockets for BBC Films.

In development for the past two years, Jackdaw (working title) is a contemporary exploration of teenage crime in London. Producer is Jake Lushington, with a script by playwright Simon Stevens.

"It's going to be contemporary, noisy, loud, full of action, full of modern music," Webber told "It will be very different to Girl With A Pearl Earring."

He added: "It's not a tortuous film about guilt and redemption. It will be like Trainspotting was for junkies."

Webber will start casting soon, with the two teenagers at the centre of the film likely to be played by unknowns. Shooting is scheduled for March 2004.

Webber's Girl With A Pearl Earring is an adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's fictionalised account of the relationship between Dutch master Vermeer and the subject of his masterpiece. Webber is scoring critical kudos for his subtle treatment of the relationship at film's core and his delicate work with the cast. The film stars Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.

Webber spent five years as an editor before graduating to documentaries and television drama. His breakthrough came with UK mini-series Men Only, which scored big audience ratings and became a critical talking point in the UK with its hard-hitting storylines.

For a full interview with Peter Webber see this week's edition of Screen International.