Hong Kong producer Daniel Yu and Chinese filmmaker Tang Xiru have established a Beijing-based production company, First Cuts Features, todevelop and produce sixprojects from up-and-coming Asian filmmakers.

The company, which is an extension of the 2005 Focus: First Cuts project, has already signed four mainland Chinese directors to start shooting in 2009.

The 2005 Focus: First Cuts project, under Andy Lau's Hong Kong-based Focus Films, produced films such as Ning Hao's sleeper hit Crazy Stone.

'Because of the success of Crazy Stone, we realised the importance of the mainland market and decided to set the base of the company in Beijing,' Yu said.

Although the first four projects are from mainland directors, First Cuts still aims to explore new filmmakers in other Asian territories such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, said the company's president Tang Xiru.

Among the four projects, Wu Ershan, whose 2004 film Soap Opera won the FIPRESCI award at the 9th Pusan International Film Festival, will be directing a period drama with kung-fu and comedy elements from early 2009.

Fang Yaxi, short film winner of Beijing University Film Festival, will direct a contemporary comedy-thriller.

Xinjiang-based filmmaker Qu Jiangtao will be directing a romantic drama and Yan An will direct an animation film. The other two projects have yet to be announced.

First Cuts has set up strategic partnership with several entertainment companies including Hong Kong-based Sundream Motion Pictures which will be investing in the six projects.

Internet company Voole.com will be a First Cuts partner in digital distribution; while music label and artist management firm Taihe Rye Music Co will collaborate with First Cuts in music rights and artist development.