Irish Screen is backing five features from the producers of UK club culture hit Human Traffic - including its sequel Human Traffic 2: Five Go Mad In Goa - marking the first of several local financing sources expected to emerge at Cannes.
The Dublin and London-based operation is fully financing Fruit Salad's slate and its own projects with cash and a freshly-raised combination of US bank debt and equity money.
Irish Screen, which previously part funded Human Traffic along with investments in films such as Mrs Brown, has also formed a co-production partnership with Ira Deutchman's New York-based Redeemable Features and launched its own sales arm under former Mayfair chief Daniel Weinzweig.
Fruit Salad is developing Goa as the sixth instalment in Channel 4's Human Traffic TV series. The feature will continue the story-line developed in the series but as a theatrical release.
The first Fruit Salad film to go into production under the deal will be South West Nine, the story of a frenzied weekend in Brixton, south London. Through its co-production partnership with Irish Screen, Fruit Salad also aims to invest in projects from third-party film-makers.
"South West Nine is a perfect example of the type of film we are going to produce," said Allan Niblo, who co-heads Fruit Salad with Renata S Aly. "It is a low budget ($3m) youth culture product driven by a banging sound-track, high on originality and very commercially aware of its target audience and the resulting marketing and promotional opportunities."
Irish Screen, which now aims to fully-finance its lower-budget projects, is going into production this year on the $8m The Chieftain's Daughter, which has Stephen Rea attached, and black comedy Something For The Weekend, with Colm Meaney.
Irish Screen joint managing director Nigel Warren-Green highlighted the growing importance of exploiting new media as a key factor in launching the sales arm. "Originators and owners of copyright will in effect become a new breed of distributor," he said.