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Scott Free, Orchard, Focus International team on genre slate

Focus Features International will handle sales on six titles over three years; Orchard Capital and Northern Ireland Screen also on board; most titles to shoot in Northern Ireland.

Ridley Scott and Scott Free London are partnering with new finance and production company Orchard Media and Focus Features International on a new slate of six genre low-budget features over a period of three years.

Ridley Scott will executive produce and present the slate, which will be focus on horror, thriller and science fiction. Focus Features International will handle world-wide sales.

The films will be made in association with Northern Ireland Screen and will shoot primarily in Northern Ireland using local crew, cast, services and facilities.

The deal was brokered by Orchard’s founder Adam Kulick, who will executive produce the slate, and Chris Billows, Orchard’s head of media, who will produce and oversee development.

For Scott Free London, Liza Marshall will produce and Jack Arbuthnott will oversee development and co-produce.

Finance veteran Kulick, previously of Goldcrest Capital, Merrill Lynch and CitiGroup, set up consultancy Orchard in 2011.

Scott said of the new venture: “Our target is to create a structure that enables filmmakers to push boundaries and to excite audiences. Our proposed model of filmmaking allows us to give directors the opportunity to really innovate through narrative, production techniques and distribution strategies.” Orchard will work across international projects.

Focus Features International’s Alison Thompson commented: “There’s an appetite and market for high-concept low budget films - that combined with Ridley Scott’s pedigree will be very attractive to international buyers.”

Scott Free London’s Liza Marshall and Jack Arbuthnott said: “This slate is a fantastic opportunity to work in a genuinely liberating and creative way to make distinctive, commercial films.”

Kulick and Billows commented: “We believe this is a very exciting opportunity for talent, distributors and investors. Filmmakers often spend a great deal of time and energy raising and closing financing.  By funding the slate up front we can allow filmmakers to focus entirely on the creative aspects of the filmmaking process.”

Billows is also head of development and commercial strategy at Steel Mill Pictures where he is co-producing eOne’s Song For Marion, which was picked up by The Weinstein Company for US.

Head of production for Northern Ireland Screen, Andrew Reid added: “We have been looking for a model which would allow us to forecast future production in Northern Ireland over the next few years. Orchard and Scott Free brought us a compelling proposition to complement our other large incoming productions, such as Game of Thrones. It also potentially provides an outlet for developing Northern Ireland creative talent.” 

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