This week the Norwegian city of Haugesund - home of the Norwegian International Film Festival - was invaded by stars outside the festival season, as UK director Robert Young started principal photography for his new feature, Wide Blue Yonder, with British actors Brian Cox and and James Fox in the leads.

Cox and Fox will shortly be joined by US screen legend Lauren Bacall on locations at Haugesund, Karmoy and Sveio for the $8.7 million (Eu6.3 million) production staged by Parkland Films' John Cairns and his Norwegian partner, Bjøog Veland. Also producing are Stephen Cranny at Collective Films and Terje Gaustad at Vanquish Alliance.

Local contributions to the cast include Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Kare Conradi, Hege Schøyen and Sverre Anker Ousdal.

Filming starts almost a year after Wide Blue Yonder was presented at the first Nordic Co-Production Forum at the festival in Haugesund, where 10 independent UK producers pitched new feature projects to Scandinavian filmmakers. Structured within the framework of the Norwegian-UK co-production treaty (which otherwise expired in May), the production left the forum fully-financed.

Described as a black comedy, Wide Blue Yonder was originally written for the theatre by Hugh Janes - it played 10 years ago in London's West End with Eric Sykes in the lead. Janes has also adapted the story for the screen, where Cox portrays Wally, a retired English sailor, who lives at an old folks' home in Norway with his friend and former workmate at sea, Skipper.

The two of them have promised each other that when one of them dies, the other willl make sure he is buried from a ship, the old-fashion way. One day Wally finds Skipper dead, but sticking to his word is not so easy as he thought.

'It is the first time an international feature this size is shooting in provincial Norway,' explained Veland, who will try to schedule the world première early 2008 at Haugesund.

Parkland is also handling world sales.