David Thompson, the former head of BBC Films, is launching a new independent film and TV production company, Origin Pictures.

Origin kicks off with a three-year, first-look development deal with BBC Fiction for both feature films and TV drama.

Also for its TV projects, Origin also has a first-look development deal with major international sales company Fremantle Media Enterprises.

Origin will have 'significant backing' from Anant Singh's production/financing company Distant Horizon. With that backing, Origin will have the resources to co-finance films.

Origin is developing a range of new projects for film and TV. For example, Origin recently optioned Michel Faber's bestselling historical novel The Crimson Petal And the White, which will be developed as a four-part TV drama.

Thompson worked in TV before running BBC Films for more than a decade, working on films ranging from Billy Elliot to Eastern Promises, before announcing he was leaving in late 2007. In the intervening time he has been concentrating on executive producing projects he started at BBC Films, including Lone Scherfig's An Education.

Origin has brought on Ed Rubin as head of development (he had been development executive at BBC Films). Nicola Blacker will also move from BBC Films to be Origin's production executive. Other appointments will be announced later for a core team of five people.

'As Origin, we're working on a number of projects, but they are too early to announce. I still consider us at the start-up stage,' Thompson told Screen. 'I'm also continuing to retain my involvement as an executive producer on a number of project at BBC Films that were developed when I was still there.'

He is, for example, independently of Origin, still serving as executive producer on BBC Films projects including Armando Ianucci's In The Loop, Saul Dibb's The Duchess, Martin Campbell's Edge Of Darkness, Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, and the new Men Who Stare At Goats.

Thompson plans to continue working on the kinds of films that he championed while at BBC Films, although there will be difference. 'I do think we can do more internationally, the BBC is more UK-centric.' Still, Origin plans to work mostly on English-language fare.

Budgets for Origin will range from $5m to $50m, 'It's about working at the right budget level,' Thompson says.

The first-look deal with BBC doesn't of course prevent Origin from working with other producers and financiers or even Film4. 'We're doing international productions as well as purely UK films. We're also happy to co-produce or the the umbrella to work with newer producers.'

While the UK is crowded with independent producers, Thompson says Origin can distinguish itself due to its focus on TV as well, his experience and longstanding relationships, and its solid development funding and access to production finance.
'The aim is not world domination, the aim is quality productions for film and tv with a really distinctive nature,' Thompson said. 'And where possible the ability to reach wide audiences.

Thompson adds: 'The ethic and ehtos of the place [Origin] is very muchfocused on talent -- new and established.' At BBC Films, he championednewcomers including Pawel Pawlikowski and Saul Dibb.

Thompson said the idea of doing both film and TV is because of theincreasing synergy between the formats. 'Increasingly film andtelevision, in terms of talent and the way ideas evolve, are becomingcloser,' he said. 'The boundaries are breaking down on a number ofprojects and quite often the two are converging. That has certainlybeen our experience recently at the BBC.

Mark Gray, vice president programming, FremantleMedia, said: 'David's track record is second to none. He has been such a major creative force, responsible for some of the finest and most innovative TV drama over the past decade. There can be little doubt that working with Origin promises to be both enormously exciting as well as artistically productive'.

Distant Horizon's Singh added: 'His exceptional experience in motion pictures and television coupled with his global relationships will make Origin Pictures a formidable independent production house in the UK and we are delighted to be a part of it.'

Jane Tranter, controller, BBC Fiction said: 'Despite leaving the Corporation to set up his new venture I am delighted the BBC will continue to benefit not only from his unrivalled years of expertise and experience, but from his infamous tenacity, impeccable taste and sharp wit.'

As BBC Films gears up to its move to BBC London HQ in White City, Origin will now be moving into its own Soho Denmark Street offices in June.