In advance of the anticipated announcement of a new Irish-American low-budget production partnership - between Ireland's Rapid Film and Ed Pressman and John Schmidt's New York-based ContentFilm, the Irish Film Board has launched two new low-budget feature film initiatives.

The first, called the Low Budget Feature Initiative seeks to create production opportunities for Irish directors and producers who have been struggling to fund mid-range budgeted films of Euros 3m to Euros 5m which, in the words of Film Board CEO Rod Stoneman, "have become very difficult to finance."

The scheme requires budgets to be no more than Euros 1m, with producers providing a minimum 40% and the Film Board a maximum of 60%. Cast, crew and facility deals and deferrals will be recognised as part of the producer's budget contribution.

The Film Board expects that projects approved under this scheme will be made primarily using digital technology, but this is not a requirement. Liz Gill's Goldfish Memory, now in post production, was the pilot project for the initiative.

The first projects likely to go into production under the initiative are The Halo Effect by Lance Daly, Dead Bodies to be directed by Robert Quinn and John Simpson's Straight To Video.

The Board also announced a Micro Budget/Digital Development initiative for ultra-low budget feature production as well as development which uses the digital camera as the principal tool instead of text.

Designed to support innovative filmmakers who usually rely on the Film Board for completion rather than initial production finance, the initiative will provide loans of between Euros 25,000 and Euros 100,000.