A new production and training opportunity for screenwriters, producers and film directors to produce low-budget feature films has been launched in Ireland.

Following from a mentoring programme, three successful teams will be awarded funding of $328,600 (Euros 250,000) to realise feature film projects. The projects will be selected on the basis of 'talent, conviction, originality and quality of vision'.

Director Liz Gill (Goldfish Memories), a seasoned campaigner for low-budget production in Ireland, is the artistic director of catalystproject. Launching the initiative she said: 'The project is a unique training opportunity for writers, directors and producers in which they get intimate contact with international and Irish low-budget practitioners, and the opportunity to make a feature film.'

A partnership comprised of the Irish Film Board, Screen Training Ireland, Filmbase, The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, TV3 and the Arts Council has backed and devised catalystproject as a mentoring scheme which will 'train film-makers in the art of very low-budget film-making'.

Participants will attend seminars and receive top class mentoring skills directly from Irish and international award-wining filmmakers including independent producer Christine Vachon, producer and consultant Bruce Block, and the production teams behind the Sundance award-winning Irish film Once, and the BAFTA-nominated UK success, London To Brighton.

The scheme is inspired by recent Irish low-budget films that have achieved major international success - John Carney's Once, which won the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance film Festival last month; Lenny Abrahamson's Adam And Paul which was selected for Panorama at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival; and Perry Ogden's Pavee Lackeen, which premiered in Critics Week at the Venice Film Festival, also in 2005.

Simon Perry, CEO of the Irish Film Board commented: 'The Catalyst Workshops are designed to give Irish filmmakers the knowledge and the tools needed to make a real piece of cinema with limited resources.'

Speaking for Screen Training Ireland, Helen Mc Mahon said the programme should provide an encouraging and creative environment in which filmmakers can develop their stories.

Seamus Duggan, Manager of Filmbase, a resource centre for film-makers, added: 'because the funding is stand-alone, the projects are freed from the conventional considerations of the marketplace'.

Fintan Maguire, Commissioning and Creative Services Executive at TV3, Ireland 's commercial TV broadcaster which will screen the finished films, said: 'We have been a long-time supporter of Irish films, with projects like Watermelon, The Mighty Celt, Honeymooners and the award-winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley. I am very excited about the final catalystproject films screening on TV3.'

Speaking on behalf of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland Diarmuid Breathnach said: 'The BCI's Sound&Vision fund has released $26.3m (Euros 20m) in funding for TV projects since last February, and this project is being supported from our Special Schemes initiative within Sound&Vision.'