The Australian Film Finance Corporation (FCC) has greenlighted the desert drama Japanese Story from the creative team that made local sleeper Road To Nhill, and starring Toni Collette. The other two projects getting FCC approval are Blurred, the first in a series of low-budget films supported by UK sales agent Portman Film, and Take Away a comedy about rival fish and chip shops that will see the producer of local hit The Craic turn his hand to directing.

In Japanese Story, Collette plays a geologist with her yet-to-be cast Japanese co-star in a story to be principally shot over six weeks next Spring in the blood red Hamersley Ranges in the remote north west corner of Western Australia.

Fortissimo is to represent the Gecko Films production in all territories except Australia, where Palace Films is the distributor, and Italy, a regular backer of Australian films. Providing equity investment alongside the FFC is pay TV outfit Showtime/PMP and the state government agencies ScreenWest and Film Victoria.

Producer Chris Brown hopes that Blurred will herald the arrival of a brat pack of Queensland filmmakers. Evan Clarry is directing the Stephen Davis/Keir Shorey comedy script about the Gold Coast's "schoolies week", at which 70,000 school-leavers from across the nation celebrate the start of adulthood with alcohol, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Brown and Portman have been involved for some time in a series of government-supported low-budget films by New Zealand newcomers - including Scarfies and Stickmen. They are now looking to replicate that concept in Australia with the ongoing involvement of Brown's producing partner and script editor Chris Fitchett and the Pacific Film and Television Commission. In Blurred the other partners are local distributor REP and Showtime/PMP.

Take Away will be Marc Gracie's directorial debut. He is also producing the Dave O'Neil/Mark O'Toole script alongside David Redman. The executive producers are John Tatoulis, lawyer Bryce Menzies and head of major local distributor Roadshow, Joel Pearlman. The Craic grossed $2.7m (A$5m) in 1999 with Roadshow's handling. Beyond Films is the international sales agent and pay TV outfit Movie Network is also involved in the Mondayitis Productions film.