Australia's CrawfordProductions and Canada's Protocol Entertainment are preparing to shoot afeature that is based on the hit TV series TheSaddle Club, which is currently screening on Discovery Kids in the US and,when last screened in Sydney, attracted an astounding 95% of all five to12-year-olds at its peak.

Matt Carroll, who was behindsuch iconic Australian films as SundayToo Far Away and Breaker Morant,is producing and the writer is US-born Queensland-based Shirley Pierce. Adirector is not yet signed. South-East Queensland is expected to be thelocation for the shoot which is scheduled for the end of this year in time foran Easter 2005 release. Negotiations with the financing partners are continuingin Cannes.

The Saddle Club is based on the books by Bonnie Bryant and is about young girls andtheir much-loved horses. Each episode is full of adventure and action but withan emphasis on relationships as the girls deal with the challenges and issuesof becoming teenagers.

The series has also sold toJapan, France, Italy, the Middle East and many other territories. Warner HomeVideo handles video and DVD sales in the US and the producers are currentlynegotiating with a US broadcaster.

"Very few otherfeatures have been made in Australia based on a really huge brand," saidCrawford chief executive Nick McMahon. "This will be a live actionadventure of a very established brand that the market is continuously exposedto."