Three producers are braving the choppy waters of the Spanish film sector to launch new Madrid-based production outfit LaZona Films.

Merging their combined experience in some of Spain's top media companies, LaZona partners Douglas Wilson and brothers Ignacio and Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson (pictured, left and right) say they aim to produce two to three, average Euros 2m-3m Spanish-language features per year out of LaZona.

Possible forays into co-productions and English-language fare are also on the agenda. "We will focus both on looking for new projects and also developing our own ideas in-house in response to what is working in the market," says Ignacio Salazar-Simpson.

An initial four or five picture development slate should be unveiled this spring with production getting underway on the first LaZona title in early 2004.

"You could argue this is a bad moment to set up a production company in Spain," Wilson admits in reference to the 'crisis' in the local film sector. Indeed, the Spanish producers' federation FAPAE has called a meeting with other sector representatives today in Madrid to discuss formulas for facing production and distribution challenges.

"The crisis is obviously worrying, but we think there's also an opportunity here to take advantage of the talent available," says Wilson (pictured left). "Given the problems facing the industry, it seems likely that new or less tested finance formulas will have to be tried, and that international co-productions will take on greater importance," adds Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson.

Ignacio Salazar-Simpson was formerly head of feature film production at private broadcaster Telecinco, where he helped greenlight films such as Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's Intacto and 2002 domestic box office hit The Other Side Of The Bed (El Otro Lado De La Cama).

Wilson most recently set up the new film production arm of Spanish distributor TriPictures. Prior to that, he worked in development and acquisitions at Lolafilms, where he was associate producer on Manuel Gomez Pereira's Off Key.

Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson spent four years in the financial department of Telefonica's media division Admira and contributed to the company's expansion into film, music and television.