EXCLUSIVE: The UK-Germany-Russia-Georgia co-production starts shooting in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi on Sunday, at the Georgian Film Studios.

The cast is led by Matthew Macfadyen, Myanna Buring and Noah Taylor. Casting was by Wildman Hall.

Director Ben Hopkins wrote the script alongside BAFTA winner Pawel Pawlikowski.

The story is described as a “gentle black comedy” about a washed-up Oscar winning British film director, named Emil Forester (played by Macfadyen), who gets invited to make a national epic in an obscure Caucasus Republic called Karastan.

The film is a co-production between UK-based Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) led by Mike Downey and Sam Taylor, Daniel Zuta’s Frankfurt-based Brandstorm Entertainment, Metra Films’ Artem Vassiliev in Moscow and Tbilisi’s 20 Steps owned by Vladimer Katcharava. A key equity player in the film is Russian investor Alexander Malchevsky.

Epic was developed with backing from the British Film Institute (BFI) and is supported by HessenInvestFilm Fund (Frankfurt), the French-German Cultural Channel ARTE, CinePlus (Berlin/Frankfurt), German film distributor Piffl, and Georgian National Film Centre.

For full production details

Stephen Daldry is executive producing.

The Second unit began in and around Tbilisi before Christmas and moves to Akhaltsikhe next week. The film will also shoot for a week on location in and around Frankfurt. Post production will be done in Germany from March 15.

“It’s comedy about globalisation and nation-building, sex and art, money-laundering and love,” said Hopkins, whose credits include Simon Magus, The Market and 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep. “In the case of Epic, reality is absurd, credibility is ridiculous, and authenticity is hilarious. And all set in a fictitious country, that could be one of any number of post Soviet satellite states.”

“We have had a long road to production, and have been working here on the ground in Tbilisi for the last four months,” said London-based producer Mike Downey. “But now, with the excellent support of our Georgian and international partners and the Georgian National Film Centre we are ready to start shooting under excellent conditions.  We look forward to the next couple of months working in Tbilisi and Axalcixe and we look forward to delivering a major in international motion picture in time for screening in the 2014 festival cycle.”

“The Georgian film industry is in a period of growth and it can grow further by the presence of such international co-productions as Epic as real partnerships with Georgian companies,” added Georgian National Film Centre CEO Tamara Tatishvili. “The high quality of the level of cast and the international commercial possibilities are very attractive to give Georgian companies a global perspective and to act as a showcase as to just what is possible in terms of international partnerships in Georgia.”

20 Steps will be talking to buyers about the film at Berlin’s EFM.