Sales agent Arclight Films has appointed former Instinct Entertainment producer Nigel Odell to set up a Melbourne-based office to produce and co-finance Australian films.

It will establish a US production office in the near future under Harrison Kordestani, who is already based there.

Arclight wants to work with bankable Australian directors, says Arclight managing director Gary Hamilton, on films budgeted at between $3.9m-$7.8m (A$5-$10m).

All types of projects will be considered, including genre films. Genre was a dirty word in the 1990s in Australia but not since Wolf Creek, which was an Arclight title.

'After the huge success we had on Storm Warning, this is the next logical step,' said Hamilton. 'I am committed to continuing to support the Australian film industry and am counting on Nigel to deliver two to three films annually.'

Director Jamie Blanks' horror film Storm Warning was sold to Dimension Films late last year. The film was co-financed by Arclight in association with Film Finance Corporation Australia and others, and is in post-production. Arclight is co-distributing the film in Australia with Mushroom Pictures.

'It has joined the short list of Australian films that have recovered its budget,' says Hamilton, referring to the Dimension sale.

He says the opportunities for making films in Australia will grow considerably in if the Federal Government agrees to the tax rebate scheme being extended and changed to suit not just offshore films but local features too.

Arclight and the two divisions of Darclight and Easternlight take on sales rights for 12 to 15 films per year; about 25% of these are Australian. Arclight is owned by Hamilton and Victor Syrmis and has acquired 90 films for its catalogue since it was set up five years ago.

The move by Hamilton to formalise Arclight's production activities comes, coincidentally, just as Beyond Films, his former employer, shuts down its sales division.

'The risk reward ratio just doesn't make sense' said Mikael Borglund, chief executive of Beyond International Limited, which principally makes and distributes television programmes.

As reported, the three former Beyond London-based staff have set up Bankside Films with Head Gear Films, and have been appointed as agents for the eight films Beyond has acquired in the past year.

'It is better than closing it down but we [the parent company] made $3.3m (A$4.2m) last year after absorbing the loss from films. Otherwise we would have made $3.9m (A$5m),' said Borglund.

Beyond Films did make money from films in the 1990s. About four years ago it relocated the office to the UK, which was flush with production cash.

'In the good old days you could sell everything for something. Now it is really hit and miss because no-one is going to release a film they are ambivalent about and there is no DVD or video market,' Borglund said. 'You used to be able to sell crap for some money.'