First Look International (FLI) is opening a London office and has hired sales executive Tim Grohne from Celsius Entertainment to front the UK operation as vice president, international sales.

FLi is also relocating LA-based international sales manager John Vista Neis to London. Joining them will be vice president, European TV/DVD sales Susan Hewitt, who works for sister company First Look Television.

'This is a logical development for our rapidly growing international sales operation,' FLI president Stuart Ford said. 'The London base will allow us to have much more day-to-day contact with European distributors.

'The office will also act as an invaluable search engine for European-based projects we can board as a seller or co-financier, an area of our business we're very intent on growing. I think our UK office will also re-position us as a true international film company, as opposed to a US company doing business internationally.

'Tim is one of the most well-liked and knowledgeable executives in the London sales community,' Ford continued. 'He also has good all-round knowledge of the industry, which is essential given the fact that our London office is more than just a sales operation.'

'Stuart has assembled a first-class team, and one that I am proud to be part of,' Grohne said. 'The creation of an office in London will make First Look even more accessible to European film-makers and distributors, and marks an important step towards Stuart's vision of creating a truly global entity.'

FLI has also bulked up its LA-based team. Ruzanna Kegeyan joins as vice president, international sales from Bob Yari's Syndicate Films, and Catherine Quantschnigg arrives from Showtime International as director of international sales operations.

'Ruzanna's arrival adds terrific additional know-how and experience to our sales team,' Ford said. 'She's incredibly popular with buyers and will be a real asset to us. The addition of Catherine to our already formidable operations team is intended to make First Look International even more user-friendly and efficient for our distribution and financing partners around the world.

'Alongside our sister company First Look Television we're handling the global exploitation of several hundred titles at any given time, and I believe a company of this size should be aiming to offer an unrivalled degree of 'back-office' support and professionalism.'