A BIG-BUDGET film featuring a twist on Jane Austen’s novels will be shot in parts of Dorset including Weymouth and Lyme Regis.

Encounter is director Norman Gregory’s second film and is set to go into pre-production in the next couple of months.

It follows the success of his first film, A Reason to Leave, which has won a string of awards, including Best Drama at the National Film Awards and Best Film at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema.

It was produced by Dorset-based independent film company Unreasonable Productions and starred Emmerdale and Coronation Street’s Claire King and The Bill’s Mark Wingett, alongside young actress Alice Bird.

This time around, the company is working with producer Betsan Morris-Evans and Film Forge Media.

“Things are looking good for the next film, which has a £3 million budget,” Mr Gregory said.

“We are looking to film in Dorset, including Kingston Lacy, Weymouth and Lyme Regis, as well as Bath and Italy.

“I’ve been working on the script for the past year or so.

“Hopefully we’ll start casting soon – we’re looking for box office names.”

Jane Austen spent time in Lyme Regis in the summer of 1804.

“Her novel Persuasion is partly set in the town and big screen versions of the story have been shot in the resort.

Lyme Regis Museum has a number of objects on display relating to Jane Austen and her times, including several that have come down through the Austen family.

Poole-based director Mr Gregory added: “The film is about two characters from two separate Austen books who come together in 1865 on a boat coming back from France.

“When the books end, we assume the characters live happily ever after together. This film works on the premise that, in this case, they don’t.”

He added: “With this year being the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death, there’s so much going on with the statue in Basingstoke and the portrait on the £5 notes.

Carolyn Weldon, producer for Unreasonable Productions, said she was “excited” about the upcoming feature.

She said: “The film will be a twist on Austen’s novels. She was not a romantic, per se, it’s the irony in her work I find appealing.”

Mr Gregory, who studied a master’s degree in film and television directing at Bournemouth University, added: “We want to keep the spirit of the characters we’re using, but make it more of a twenty first century tale.

“It’s certainly going to better our last production, which was only shot on a £50,000 budget – and Austen is so well loved.”