New Holland Pictures launched in 2004 with the ambitious - for Australia - aim of producing three films a year.

Four years on, and the company that was set up as a joint venture between leading Dutch film company Idtv Film and Australian producers Mark and Cathy Overett is proving that was no empty promise.

The company's debut film, Peter Duncan's Unfinished Sky, a remake of Golden Globe-nominated Dutch film The Polish Bride, was released in Australia in June and has taken $730,000 (a$864,000), making it the third most successful local film of the year so far.

The company has three Netherlands-Australia co-productions in development, the most advanced being Exhibition, an 'intelligent horror film' set in an Amsterdam canal house and to be directed by Andrew Traucki. Last year it also acted as the service company for Dutch films The Ship Boys Of Bontekoe in Queensland and Bride Flight in New Zealand.

New Holland Pictures has also moved beyond the Netherlands and forged other international connections. An alliance exists with Ireland's Rippleworld Pictures, which will include Zigzag Street, a romantic comedy to be directed by the UK's Brian Percival, and Through Hell's Gate, an 1820s convict story by Irish director Aisling Walsh.

Meanwhile, negotiations are under way on a Denmark-Australia co-production due to shoot in October, there are projects ripe for co-production arrangements with Germany and Italy and a New Zealand office has opened for business with a slate of five films.

One of these, Paul Middleditch's sex and relationships comedy Separation City, involves The Lord Of The Rings co-producer Barrie Osborne, will star Joel Edgerton. It is gearing up for an October start.

'We always said we wanted to be known as a significant little company,' says Mark Overett. 'Except we're not so little any more,' Cathy Overett adds.

While they see partnerships as the key to high production levels, the biggest barrier to having films greenlit, they say, is delivering to sales agents a name cast on a low budget. Kim Farrant's Australian psychological family drama Strangerland is one such project.

'We have cut our budget because the market says Strangerland is not worth more than $4.7m (a$5.4m) but they still expect an A-list cast,' says Cathy Overett.

'Under the producer offset, producers can now claim back 40% of their production costs on Australian films. But this 40% can only be claimed on all above-the-line expenditure if it is less than 20% of the budget - and an A-list cast could push this expenditure higher than 20%.

'It's a juggling act,' she says. 'I think there's a lot of room for good films. Story is very important to us - (it's how) you can get a really great film on a modest budget with a limited number of cast.'