On the strength of its screenplay and director, but as yet no cast attachments, Renaissance Films has struck pivotal pre-sales deals on Pobby And Dingan, a rites-of-passage story set in the Australian outback that is due to start shooting on location in July.

Gaga Communications of Japan and A-Film/Cinelibre of Benelux both pre-bought the project, which will mark the third directorial outing for British filmmaker Peter Cattaneo, after The Full Monty and Lucky Break. A-Film also acquired Indonesian rights, suggesting a move into distribution in that particular territoriy.

Pobby And Dingan is based on a novella by Ben Rice, who has written the screenplay with Cattaneo and Phil Trail. The story is told through the eyes of an 11 year-old boy called Ashmol. It follows the hunt for his little sister's two imaginary friends, who, she says, have gone missing.

Renaissance acquired worldwide sales rights to the film from Academy Features, the film arm of Academy Productions, the UK commercials and music video production company co-owned by Lizie Gower, Nick Morris and Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast).

Renaissance managing director Angus Finney will be executive producer on the film, while Academy' Gower and Morris are the producers. Emile Sherman is the Australian co-producer.

Pobby And Dingan marks the second film from Academy Features, The company's first film was co-owner Glazer's Birth starring Nicole Kidman which is scheduled for release later this year through Fine Line/New Line.

Cattaneo won a best director nomination in 1998 for his 1997 hit The Full Monty, which grossed over $250m worldwide and, in cost-to-revenues ratio, is among the most profitable films of all time.