Oscar-nominated film director Sylvain Chomet has chosen Edinburgh as the backdrop for his new animation. Chomet is now working on storyboards for The Illusionist at Studio Django, his base in Edinburgh's George Street.
The story is based on a script which the late Jacques Tati, French cinema's equivalent of Charlie Chaplin, had wanted to make as a live-action film. Tati's daughter was so impressed by Chomet's film Belleville Rendez-vous, where a character is seen watching one of Tati's movies, that she allowed the animator to take on the project.
The Illusionist has been in planning for some time, since Chomet and his producer wife Sally signed a £10 million deal with Pathé Pictures. A 12-strong team is currently working on the production, although more animators will arrive as the project progresses.
Chomet, 42, said today: "The story is about an illusionist in the 1960s who is travelling around at the beginning of television and rock 'n' roll.
"He goes on stage in Paris and London and meets a Scottish guy who invites him to a place in Iona. There is a young girl working in a bar who thinks he is a real magician and they go to Edinburgh to carry on with their relationship, until she meets someone else.
"It is not a typical subject for an animated film. It is basically aimed at kids but I am sure adults will enjoy it as well."
Chomet fell for Scottish capital on a visit to the 2003 Edinburgh International Film Festival and says it is both the perfect base and ideal setting for The Illusionist, which is due to be released in 2009.
"It is a beautiful city where I can get the best of both worlds, being so close to the sea and the mountains," he added. "Edinburgh is a very inspiring city for me to work in."
Scottish Screen spokeswoman Celia Stevenson said: "We were thrilled when Sylvain Chomet decided to come and set up his studio in Edinburgh. It was a huge shot in the arm for the industry in Scotland. We are now delighted that he has not only set up his studio in Edinburgh but is making a film set in the city."
Chomet has contributed - as one of 20 filmmakers - a segment to Paris, je'taime, a collective film that showing the differing atmospheres and lifestyles of the 20 Parisian neighbourhoods. The production includes work from the Coen brothers and Alexander Payne. It is the first time Chomet has ever directed live action. The two-hour long film will be screened at this month's Cannes Film Festival.
A Parisian himself, Chomet rose to fame with his 1998 short The Old Lady and the Pigeons. Belleville Rendez-vous (2003), was nominated for two Oscars - best animated feature and best animated song.