EXCLUSIVE: In-demand director plans late September start for Film4.0 feature A Field in England starring Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith and Julian Barratt; Protagonist to handle sales.

Ben Wheatley is to shoot a film set during the English Civil War before he embarks on US monster thriller Freakshift.

A Field in England, set for a late September shoot, will tell the story of a group of deserters who fall victim to the terrifying energies trapped in a field.

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Wheatley told Screen the film “brings together the more psychedelic elements of Kill List and Sightseers and weaves in our take on historical drama.”

Wheatley has written the script with regular writing collaborator Amy Jump (who is also writing on Freakshift).

Michael Smiley (Kill List), Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen), Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), Richard Glover (Sightseers), Ryan Pope (Ideal) and Peter Ferdinando (Tony) star.

Producers are Claire Jones and Andy Starke of Rook Films, with Anna Higgs as executive producer for Film4.

The film is the first feature to be developed and fully financed through Film4’s digital arm Film4.0, run by Higgs.

Protagonist will handle sales, and Channel 4 has UK TV rights.

The script follows a small group of deserters who flee from a raging battle through an overgrown field. When they are captured by two men, one an alchemist, they are forced to help in his search to find a hidden treasure he believes is buried in the field.

Crossing a vast mushroom circle, which provides their first meal, the group descends into a chaos of fighting and paranoia, and, as it becomes clear that the treasure might be something other than gold, they become victim to the terrifying energies trapped inside the field.

Wheatley told Screen: “It’s great to be continuing the relationship with Film4 and Film4.0. A Field in England is a project that we have been talking about for years and are very excited about making.”

Anna Higgs, commissioning editor for Film4.0, said: “One of the central strands of Film4.0 is to work with directors and producers in new and agile ways, so it’s fitting that our first project should be with Ben, who is one of the industry’s most original and exciting filmmakers. A Field in England is a brilliantly compelling story that builds on Ben’s innovative work to date, I’m excited to be working with both him and Rook Films to forge new paths right across development, production and distribution.”

Wheatley’s Sightseers debuted in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, where it locked a host of distribution deals, including with IFC for the US. Kill List kicked off at SXSW.