Ecosse Films, the production outfit behind Mrs Brown and FilmFour and Warner Bros' upcoming $20m Charlotte Gray, is heading for the US.

Launching full-scale into developing large-budget projects, the UK company is funding development on two US-set projects: $30m-plus Stick Shaker and $25m Helen's Boy.

Ecosse has commissioned popular thriller novelist Philip Kerr to write Stick Shaker. The story follows a young FBI investigator and an older aircraft investigator on the trail of a man using computers to crash planes. Kerr's credits include The Shot, The Second Angel and A Five Year Plan.

"All of Philip Kerr's novels have been optioned by Hollywood studios but none have made it to film so far," said Ecosse chief Douglas Rae. "This time, we are commissioning him to write an original screenplay."

Helen's Boy is being written by Michael Chaplin, the writer of recent TV comedy dramas Grafters and Monarch Of The Glen for Judi Dench. Set in the New York publishing world, the romantic comedy revolves around a high-profile female editor and a younger man, who Rae aims for Matt Damon to play.

"We plan to have top British directors doing both films," Rae added. "There is no reason why a British company cannot go over to America to make films but we want to have strong British elements in the films."