Five established South Korean filmmakers have grouped together to form the nation's first in-house production company. Named EGG Films, the company will tie up the services of directors Park Chan-wook (Joint Security Area), Bae Chang-ho (My Heart), Kwak Jae-yong (My Sassy Girl), Lee Young-jae (Harmonium In My Memory) and Lee Mu-young (The Humanist) for the next six years.

Headed by CEO Ji Young-jun, the company is the first in Korea to employ directors on a long-term, contractual basis. It will pay each director a guarantee of between $150,000 and $400,000 to make a given number of films (two for Bae Chang-ho, three for the other directors), all of which will be financed by the company itself.

Ji says that the company will give more power to directors. "In 1996, I saw the troubles Bae Chang-ho was having in making his film Love Story," he said. "It seemed wrong that such an amazing director should be cast out from the industry based on one or two unsuccessful productions. That's when we got the idea to start such a company."

Producers of the company's films will be chosen by the director, rather than the company, says Ji. In future, additional groups of directors will be invited to join.

After receiving an initial investment of $1.2m (1.5billion won) from Korean software company I.Zentech, EGG Films plans to amass a total of $15m (20billion won) from various sources by the year's end. Its first project is likely to be Bae Chang-ho's latest film, scheduled to start shooting in February 2002. Bae is currently in post-production for The Last Witness (pictured) which opens November's Pusan International Film Festival.