Focus Features has bolstered its production department as the company moves toward a bigger slate and eyes greater collaboration with parent company Universal Pictures' overseas production group.

Focus Features chief executive officer James Schamus also announced that the distribution and marketing of Rogue Pictures releases will henceforth be handled by Universal.

Rogue co-presidents Andrew Karpen and Andrew Rona will continue to run Rogue and coordinate the slate for domestic release with Universal Pictures. Karpen will also continue as president of Focus Features.

Joining the Focus production team are director of development Samantha Taylor Pickett and creative executive Michael Pruss, both of whom will be based in the company's West Coast offices and report to Focus senior vice president of production Kahli Small.

Pickett and Pruss both arrive from Paramount Vantage, where for two years they served as manager of production and acquisitions and story editor, respectively. Pickett previously worked for Michael Mann and at CAA, while Pruss previously worked at DreamWorks.

Meanwhile Focus will handle domestic and Universal will handle international distribution on Cary Fukunaga's Spanish-language immigrant thriller Sin Nombre, which goes into production in a few weeks in Mexico.

Amy Kaufman is producing through her Primary Productions and Pablo Cruz of Canana Films is serving as executive producer.

'We saw this as the smartest and most efficient way to grow both our businesses,' Focus Features chief executive officer James Schamus said.

'We plan to increase the number of in-house Focus productions that we make each year, and we are already benefiting from working closely with Universal's new international production venture, what with our production of Cary Fukunaga's immigrant thriller Sin Nombre going before the cameras in a few weeks in Mexico.

'With the ever-increasing mainstream appeal of the Rogue slate, we feel that Rogue can really take off with the backing of the Universal team. Now that the Rogue movies are going to be handled in a major-studio capacity, the Focus marketing and distribution staffs will be able to nurture the increased number of Focus releases we have in our pipeline.'

Referring to the new hires, Focus president of production John Lyons said: 'Samantha and Michael arrive at the perfect time, as we ramp up production and development with films and film-makers all over the world.'

'This proactive strategy recognises the successes of both Focus and Rogue,' Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger and co-chairman David Linde said. 'It preserves Focus' commitment to its core film-making ambitions and principles, and looks to achieve the maximum potential of Rogue's established production team on a larger playing field.'