Principal photography began last week in Scotland on Falling for Figaro, a romantic comedy by acclaimed director Ben Lewin (The Sessions), on which WestEnd Films started world sales at the AFM earlier this year.
Alongside rising star Danielle Macdonald (Dumplin’, Patti Cake$, Skin) and BAFTA-winner Joanna Lumley (Me Before You, The Wolf of Wall Street, Absolutely Fabulous) and rounding out the cast are Hugh Skinner (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again; TV’s Fleabag and W1A); Gary Lewis (Filth; TV’s His Dark Materials and Outlander); Shazad Latif (TV’s Star Trek: Discovery) and Rebecca Benson (TV’s Flack).
Falling for Figaro is a romantic comedy set in the fierce world of opera singing competitions – featuring music from 'The Barber of Seville', 'The Marriage of Figaro', 'Don Giovanni', 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Carmen.'
Millie (Macdonald) is a brilliant young fund manager, who decides to leave her unfulfilling job and long-term boyfriend behind to chase her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer…in the Scottish Highlands! She begins intense vocal training lessons with renowned but fearsome singing teacher and former opera diva Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Lumley). It is there she meets Max (Skinner), another of Meghan’s students who is also training for the upcoming “Singer of Renown” contest. What begins as a brutal competition between Millie and Max slowly turns into something more.
Opera consultancy on the production is provided by renowned opera conductor Stephen Barlow and award-winning opera, theatre and TV director Elijah Moshinsky, who have both worked across the globe with the world’s leading opera companies and houses, including Opera Australia, the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg Sanfrancisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera and Vancouver Opera. Barlow and Moshinsky will be consulting alongside Musical Producer Chris Egan (A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon; Downton Abbey; Shazam!).
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSC) are also integral to the production, providing access to singers, repetiteurs, consultants and recording facilities, and the RSC is one of the film’s key locations. Tapping into Glasgow’s legacy as a mecca for young musical talent, the cast include a number of local professional singers.
Filming will continue through January after which the filmmakers will travel to Melbourne to complete post-production.
Commenting on the start of principal photography, producer Judi Levine said: “As with any film, years of commitment, imaginings and collaboration culminate in the excitement of starting production. Falling for Figaro has brought together a marvellous team of producers, A-list cast and crew, and the delight of filming against the backdrop of romantic Scottish landscape. We are all excited to be working on this delightful romance and look forward to entertaining audiences around the globe.”
Philip Wade added: “It's amazing to be in production here in Scotland, bringing this romantic story to life with a truly world class team. We dreamed of making this film in Scotland and now here we are in the Loch Lomond and the surrounding highlands, and the grand theatres and locations of Glasgow! We must thank our wonderful partners including Screen Australia, Screen Scotland, Film Victoria & Screen NSW - we would not be here without their support!”
Producer Arabella Page Croft said: "We are extremely proud to be part of the international producing team behind this fantastic Scottish set musical project. With our stunning cast, globally recognised operatic talent, and Scotland’s finest crew working in our own wonderful locations such as Theatre Royal, Kings Theatre, The Royal Conservatoire and capturing our glorious Scottish scenery in Glen Coe and Loch Lomond, it’s a true musical highland adventure!"
Falling for Figaro is an official Australian and UK co-production written by Ben Lewin and Allen Palmer, and produced by Philip Wade, Judi Levine and Arabella Page Croft. Principal production funding from Screen Australia and Screen Scotland in association with Wade Brothers Films and financed with support from Film Victoria. WestEnd is handling world rights and Umbrella Entertainment will release the film in Australia & New Zealand.
Notes to Editors
Wade Brothers Films is a newly established production company focused on development, production and financing of premium films for an international audience. Since inception, it has played a key role in financing the 2019 Sundance hit I AM MOTHER with Hilary Swank (2 time Academy Award winner), is producer and principal financier on FALLING FOR FIGARO (presently in production in Scotland) with THE SESSIONS director Ben Lewin and starring BAFTA winner Joanna Lumley, Danielle Macdonald [PATTICAKE$] and Hugh Skinner [FLEABAG]), and is shortly to announce 2 projects slated for production in 2020.
SUCH MUCH FILMS, Inc. is an independent film production company established by Producer Judi Levine & Writer/Director Ben Lewin. We create quality film and TV content based on original ideas, developing material that reflects life with a balance of humor and empathy. Our film THE SESSIONS garnered numerous major awards around the globe, including an Oscar Nomination for Helen Hunt, Golden Globe Nominations and Independent Spirit Awards for Helen Hunt and John Hawkes, and Audience Awards at the 2012 Sundance, San Sebastian and Mill Valley Film festivals.
Black Camel, run by Arabella Page Croft and Kieran Parker, is one of the most dynamic film and television production companies in Scotland. Their current Scottish set, opera inspired romantic comedy FALLING FOR FIGARO starring Joanna Lumley, Danielle Macdonald and Hugh Skinner is due for release in 2020. Comedy drama OFF THE RAILS starring Judi Dench, Kelly Preston and Sally Phillips is due for release in spring 2020. MARIONETTE starring Peter Mullan, Thekla Reuten and Emun Elliot is due for release Autumn 2020. Other credits include: UK hit musical SUNSHINE ON LEITH starring Peter Mullan & Jane Horrocks, thriller LEGACY starring Idris Elba and Clarke Peters, BBC drama CASTLES IN THE SKY starring Eddie Izzard and Laura Fraser and the action horror trilogy OUTPOST I,II & III starring Rae Stevenson and Richard Coyle. They recently produced BBC/ Screen Scotland drama pilots Float and Pancake.
Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland. With funding from Scottish Government and the National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support. Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success.
WestEnd Films is a dynamic London-based production, financing and international sales company for feature films and TV. It offers filmmakers finance, production and sales expertise as well as an extensive network of contacts across all sectors of the industry. In addition to FALLING FOR FIGARO, WestEnd’s line-up includes Israel’s Academy Award submission INCITEMENT by Yaron Zilberman, COTTONTAIL a drama starring Ken Watanabe, SATORI the follow up to documentary hit DANCER about ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin, I AM WOMAN, the biopic by Unjoo Moon about singer Helen Reddy starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Macdonald and Evan Peters, MUSCLE a psychological thriller by Gerard Johnson, SYLVIA, an action film by Vicky Jewson starring Noomi Rapace, THE COW, a comedy directed by Marc Forster starring Ewan McGregor, THE BANISHING a horror by acclaimed genre director Chris Smith, starring Jessica Brown Findlay and Sean Harris, SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD, a Smiths-infused drama starring Ellar Coltrane and Joe Manganiello, RAMS, an English-language adaptation of Cannes Winner Icelandic film Hrútar starring Sam Neill and Michael Caton, and VALLEY OF TEARS, an Israeli drama series from the writers and creators of Euphoria and False Flag.