Lionsgate UK has confirmed plans to increase investment in UK films, intending to develop, co-produce and co-finance at least two British features per year.
The initiative kicks off with three UK features set to shoot in 2009: Stiff by Dan Mazer, Emily-Jane Secret Mum as a co-production with Elton John and David Furnish's Rocket Pictures; and Debbie Issit's The Choir.
Lionsgate UK's head of development Emma Berkofsky and head of production Nick Manzi will oversee the slate of projects. They report to Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa.
Lionsgate UK - and its pre-2005 incarnation Redbus Film Distributors - has previously supported UK films such as Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham, David Cronenberg's Spider, Ben Elton's Maybe Baby, and recent hit The Bank Job.
Forthcoming UK films acquired include John Maybury's The Edge Of Love, Gillian Armstrong's Death Defying Acts, Roger Goldby's The Waiting Room and Gareth Carrivick's FAQ About Time Travel.
Kamasa said: 'As a UK company we have always had a history of supporting British film. With the backing of a studio in Lionsgate that has US distribution and international sales, we now have the support to actively produce and co-finance at least two British films per year. Nick and Emma are now actively looking to build our development slate with commercial British stories and expect to be making continued announcements throughout the next 12 months regarding new projects.'
Mazer (Borat) will write and direct comedy Stiff, about an '80s rock star who falls into a coma on stage and wakes up 20 years later. Co-producers are Jodi Cahn for Firebird Films and Andrea Calderwood and Vicki Patterson for Slate Films.
Emily-Jane Secret Mum is a romantic comedy about a single mother who pretends she doesn't have kids to move forward in her workplace. Henry Fitzherbert wrote the script. Steve Hamilton Shaw will produce for Rocket.
Confetti director Debbie Isitt returns with The Choir, based on the true story of a Welsh male voice choir who had a surprise hit album.