Eight months ago, Anand Tucker had every reason to be disillusioned with the movie business. He had been preparing New Line's fantasy epic The Golden Compass for 18 months and then left the project abruptly due to "creative differences".
Producer Stephen Woolley immediately called to entice him on board And When Did You Last See Your Father', which Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen were developing at Number 9 Films.
"It was a miracle when Stephen sent me the script - the day after my involvement with The Golden Compass came to an end," Tucker remembers. "It came like a little blessing."
Tucker was impressed by the emotionally resonant story and by how well David Nicholls had adapted Blake Morrison's memoir about a son and his terminally ill father. "David has really made a movie out of quite an interior journey," he says.
After seeing Hilary And Jackie, the 1998 film about world-renowned cellist Jacqueline Du Pre that Tucker directed, Woolley thought the director could put his own stamp on Father. "It needed someone with style and vision to make it work outside a British audience," says the veteran producer of The Crying Game.
Father was put into motion quickly as part of Number 9's UK Film Council Super Slate deal with Film4, Intandem Films and the Irish Film Board. Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent were cast as the leads.
Just six months later Tucker is already putting the finishing touches in post-production (Intandem is selling at Berlin's European Film Market and the project may be ready for Cannes). Distribution deals have already been struck with Sony Pictures Classics for North and Latin America, Buena Vista for the UK, Icon for Australia and Lusomundo for Portugal.
The idea of having so many partners on board was a strength, not a case of too many cooks. "In terms of the mechanics of how we work together and the creative aims and intentions, it's been fairly simple," Woolley says. "We've all been of one mind."
Tucker, who previously shot Shopgirl in Los Angeles for Touchstone, said the return to shooting in his native Britain was not too jarring. "This is my home ... and this is where my sensibility comes from," he says. "It wasn't that quantitatively or qualitatively different than making a film in LA." Although he notes that the film's six-week shoot meant "you have to work with less resources and less time".
Tucker is continuing to produce with Archer Street (his London-based production company with Andy Paterson), which will soon shoot Incendiary with Bridget Jones director Sharon Maguire. Tucker hopes to also direct Frank Cottrell Boyce's script The Railway Man, about a former prisoner of war who eventually forgives his torturers.
Next for Number 9 is How To Lose Friends & Alienate People, the much-anticipated adaptation (with Film4) of Toby Young's book to star Simon Pegg; and Julian Schnabel's The Lonely Doll with Killer Films.