'Up in the Air' co-writer to direct his script

Sheldon Turner, who landed a majority of the top screenwriting awards for co-penning “Up in the Air,” will make his directorial debut on “By Virtue Fall,” a thriller that Nicolas Chartier will finance and produce as his follow up to “The Hurt Locker.”

Jennifer Klein will also produce the pic with Turner.

The project, which Turner wrote, revolves around a man who is framed by his mentor and winds up in prison. Once released, he’s fixated on getting revenge on his former partner, who has flourished in his new life and tried to cleanse himself of the past.

Chartier, who was banned from the Oscars when he emailed voters to support “Hurt Locker,” will work with Creative Artists Agency to lock down financing through his Voltage Pictures banner, which

he formed in 2005 with fellow producer Dean Devlin. Specifics on his producing credit are being worked out.

The French film sales agent and CAA also worked together to find backing for “Hurt Locker” and distribution through Summit Entertainment. The pic was Voltage’s first self-financed production.

Filmmakers are looking to lens “By Virtue Fall” for less than $20 million. Production will start in September.

Turner, who shared writing credits on “Up in the Air” with director Jason Reitman, told Daily Variety that directing “is something that I’ve long held in high regard. I approach it cautiously and reverently. This script was the first I’ve written that made me feel like I had no choice but to embark on my directing career.”

Turner had considered helming his own project for some time, but found it difficult to decide which pic to choose as his first directorial bow. In the end, he said he chose “By Virtue Fall” because “I cannot imagine anyone else directing this script.”

He also wanted his directorial debut “to stand on the strength of the characters and the power of the performances. This is a film that’s designed to showcase and challenge two great actors.”

Turner and Klein are co-producing a number of projects that have been set up at studios around town, including the romantic comedy “Kiss & Tell” at Universal and “Man Camp” at Sony. They’re also producing “Paths of Glory” at Sony, “Orbit” at Fox 2000, and “Two Minutes to Midnight” at Fox, all of which Turner wrote.

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