Richard S Guardian, theveteran sales executive who has held stints with Overseas Filmgroup, HBOEnterprises and most recently Beyond Films, has teamed up with video and TVdistributor Mainline Releasing to launch Lightning Entertainment, a newLA-based boutique focusing on worldwide distribution of mid-budget independenttheatrical films.

Mainline principals RichGoldberg and Marc Greenberg will provide the initial funding to cover overhead,as well as acquisitions and co-productions. Guardian, who will serve aspresident, will bow the outfit at this month's American Film Market(AFM).

Guardian says that he willalso work with producers to package films and bring in co-production partners,equity investment from distributors, tax-driven funds, subsidies and othersources of financing.

"Distributors arelooking for films with original ideas and stories, and for clever twists totried-and-true themes," said Guardian in a statement. "This pastyear, in particular, has clearly proven that there is a strong global audiencefor quality films from talented film-makers. Some of the year's mostacclaimed films have been made outside the studio system, and for reasonablebudgets. I'd like to represent similar films to the ones I have beeninvolved with in the past, such as Lantana, Richard III, God'sArmy/The Prophecy and The SecretOf Roan Inish."

Guardian started ininternational theatrical distribution and marketing with United Artists andsince worked at Hoyts Theatres, De Laurentiis Entertainment, Overseas, HBO,George Litto Pictures and Beyond, where he licensed US rights for Lantana to Lions Gate Films and acquired internationalrights to The Business Of Strangers.Beyond closed its LA office last October.

Lightning Entertainment willcontract the services of Joseph Dickstein, Mainline's VP of Acquisitions,as an acquisitions consultant to assist Guardian in identifying and trackingfilms that fit the new company's distribution plans. "We will alsolook to partner with domestic distributors that do not have a foreign salesarm, as well as work with companies where their domestic requirements may notsuit the needs of their foreign divisions," said Guardian.

Mainline Releasing willcontinue to operate separately under Goldberg and Greenberg.