Industry veteran Mark Damonhas officially left Media 8 Entertainment as chairman and chief executiveofficer and is assembling a Los Angeles-based production company to focus onindependent projects.

Damon, whose production anddistribution outfit MDP joined Canada-based Behavior Communications in 1998 toform MDP Worldwide and changed its name this year to Media 8, parts on amicableterms.

Working with international partners, Damon's as-yet-unnamed venture is putting together a slate of titles of varying budgets that includes three projects from Media 8. Key appointments will be anounced in due course.

"Ever since my Chinesepartners bought into the company about two years ago I told them I didn't wantto continue to have to run a public company with all the administrative callson my time," Damon told Screendaily.

"I told them that afterabout two years I would be looking to get into production and they were open tothat," he added.

Damon, whose producercredits include Monster and theupcoming drama The Upside Of Angerstarring Kevin Costner and Joan Allen, said that after 50 years in the industryhis enthusiasm for producing remained as strong as ever.

"I have thoroughly enjoyedthe job of running Media 8, and I especially enjoyed working with Sammy Lee andStewart Hall. I wish the Media 8 team continued success over the coming years."

In a statement Sammy Lee,Media 8 board vice chairman, said: "As Media 8 continues to grow, we would liketo thank Mark for all his efforts over the years and wish him the very best inhis new endeavours."

The three former Media 8projects are romantic comedy Red Lips, White Lies, which has J B Rogers attached to direct and will beproduced by Damon, Faye Schwab and Chase Mishkin; thriller Higher, with John McNaughton attached to direct and Schwaband Brad Gilbert again joining Damon as producers; and the erotic coming-of-agedrama 16 Pleasures, which waswritten by Peter Weir collaborator John Collee and will be produced by Damon,Jeff Pollack of Handprint Entertainment and Jane Berliner

Damon is also developing OJerusalem, an action picture basedon the bestselling novel about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Shooting is proposed to begin in January in Europe with Elie Chouraquidirecting.

He recently served asexecutive producer on Greg Marcks' 11:14 and The I Inside,starring Ryan Phillippe. Previous producing credits include Das Boot, 9 1/2Weeks, The NeverEnding Story and ShortCircuit, among others.