Robert Katz has joined Mark Gill and Neil Sacker in their new independent venture The Film Department as president of production.

While executive vice president of production for The Yari Film Group, Katz was in charge of production on 18 films including Crash, The Illusionist, Prime, The Matador, Hostage and The Painted Veil. While at Yari, he worked with Sacker who was COO; Gill also worked with Yari briefly in Stratus Film Company before he left to head up Warner Independent Pictures in 2003.

'Robert is the rare production executive who has strong creative skills and a wealth of knowledge and experience in physically producing quality films at reasonable budgets,' said Gill and Sacker. 'We're grateful for his efforts in helping to found the company and look forward to building our slate of films together.'

Prior to joining YFG, Katz worked in production on films including Seabiscuit and One Hour Photo. He started working in the film business as a location manager in 1987 and moved up to production manager, associate producer, co-producer, executive producer and producer on a variety of projects.

Most recently, he produced Anthony Hopkins' Slipstream and Tony Kaye's Blackwater Transit starring Laurence Fishburne.

Gill and Sacker announced the launch of The Film Department earlier this week with $200m raised in financing and plans to produce six films a year budgeted between $10m and $35m. It also plans to launch an international sales arm in advance of Toronto and AFM.