Thomas riding herd on ‘Little Animals’

LONDON — Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas is making his debut as a director with “All the Little Animals,” a $6 million contemporary thriller which started shooting Monday.

The pic stars John Hurt, Daniel Benzali and Christian Bale. It’s funded by J&M Entertainment, the Isle of Man Film Commission, British Screen, BSkyB, BBC Films and Entertainment Film Distributors.

Directing this project is the realization of a 20-year ambition for Thomas, who started his career as a film editor but was diverted more by accident than design into producing.

His crowning moment as a producer was the global success of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning “The Last Emperor.” More recently his Recorded Picture Co. has been behind such pics as “Crash,” “Stealing Beauty” and “The Brave.”

Thomas has wanted to helm “All the Little Animals” since he first read Walker Hamilton’s novel two decades ago. “It’s a unique fusion of the traditional thriller and a classic morality tale, and it touches on issues of ecology and animal rights which have become even more important and more topical today,” he said.

The screenplay is written by Eski Thomas, and the film will be co-produced by Denise O’Dell. It will shoot in Cornwall, London and the Isle of Man.

It’s described as a story of betrayal, revenge and redemption, in which Bobby (Bale) faces dispossession and death at the hands of his stepfather (Benzali), but escapes into the protection of a recluse (Hurt) who teaches him a new way of life in the English countryside.

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