EXCLUSIVE: Prison-based father-son drama from Sigma Films has development backing from Film4, Creative Scotland.

Director David Mackenzie [pictured] and rising star Jack O’Connell are attached to prison drama Starred Up about a father and son both serving time in the same prison.

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Independent Film Company will handle sales on the project, produced by Mackenzie and Gillian Berrie’s Sigma Films, which has development backing from both Film4 and Creative Scotland.

The script comes from psychotherapist, poet and first-time feature writer Jonathan Asser who was inspired to write the story after his own experience of working with violent gang members in London’s Wandsworth prison.

Skins and Tower Block star O’Connell is attached to play the lead role with the production out to cast on the role of the father.

The film’s title refers to a rare situation in the penal system whereby a young offender is transferred to an adult prison because of excessively violent behaviour.

Producer Gillian Berrie told Screen: “The film is about a 17-year-old boy who meets his father for the first time since he was a toddler when he is transferred from a young offender’s institute to an adult prison because of his violence. Inevitably, the film is violent at times but the father-son relationship is key and very powerful. It’s about the sacrifices they have to make and their journey together. We’re now looking for the final pieces of the budget”.

Sigma intends to shoot the drama in early 2013 in the Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast.

Andrew Orr of Independent Film Company told Screen: “We are delighted to be working with David, Gillian and the Sigma team again.  Starred Up is a powerful and authentic script and we excited to see how a talent like David will bring it to life.”

Young Adam, Hallam Foe and Perfect Sense director Mackenzie most recently shot You Instead starring Luke Treadaway.

Berrie is also developing thriller Greenland Time, which has Vera Farmiga and Kit Harrington attached.