New York-based BedfordEntertainment and Belfast-based Geronimo Productions have formed a jointventure, Mick 'n' Mack Productions, to produce a slate of feature films to beshot in Northern Ireland and the UK.

The slate of eight films, tobe shot over the next two years, will have individual budgets of $1 million to$20 million.

Bedford president StevenMackler told Screendaily that budgets are being raised from private investorsand from US and foreign distributors. Geronimo's Michael Kelly and John Cairnsare also seeking public funding. Mackler is presenting the slate at AFM.

The first film to shoot willbe Lee Cronin's Halfway, a $1million thriller about missing-link beings hunted by government scientists.Production is set to start in February or March in Northern Ireland. The nextfour films to get started in 2006 will be: Adrian O'Connell's medicalexperimentation drama The Pact,black comedy Sweeny's Diner,Scott Morgan's dark high school comedy Harry, and $4 million animated feature Vinny Vicious from Belfast animation studio Rogue Rocket.

In 2007, Mick 'n' Mack plansto start production on a $20 million remake of the 1978 thriller The MedusaTouch, and New England-set policetale Local Precinct.

"We're not looking to bepigeonholed in any way other than to say that this first slate of films couldbe categorized as "genre films with abrain," Mackler said. "Each film, regardless of budget, is intended fortheatrical distribution and we are working closely with UK casting agents tomake sure that distribution has what it is always looking for -promote-able cast names."

He added that the NorthernIrish film industry presented a unique opportunity at the moment. "NorthernIreland has a burgeoning film community, it's about to go," Mackler said.