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Simon Baker, star of CBS’ “The Mentalist,” will make his debut as a movie director with dramatic thriller “Breath.” Baker will also star in the movie, which shoots in the second half of the year.

The picture is the bigscreen adaptation of the novel of the same title by celebrated Australian novelist Tim Winton. The story follows two thrill-seeking teenage boys who form an unlikely bond with a reclusive older surfer – Baker – and his mysterious wife. The script is penned by “Top of the Lake” screenwriter Gerard Lee.

“When I first read ‘Breath,’ I knew I had to somehow make the film,” said Baker. “The gathering storm of the story, detailed and intimate against the power and scope of the rugged setting, struck me as incredibly cinematic. I’m beyond excited to be back in Australia realizing this dream.”

Baker made his first steps into directing through episodes of “The Mentalist,” which he also produced. Baker also directed some episodes of TV’s “The Guardian,” which Johnson produced.

Sydney and Los Angeles-based Arclight Films is handling sales of the movie. Pic is produced by Mark Johnson, Baker and Australian producer Jamie Hilton.

“Breath” is being developed and financed with the assistance of principal investor Screen Australia. The film is also being financed with the assistance of regional film support agency ScreenWest.