In an otherwise ordinary office in Central London, Passion Pictures has a shelf with quite a collection of awards, including MTV moonmen for Gorillaz videos and an Oscar for 1999 documentary One Day In September. The fact there are no spotlights or fancy display cases for the statuettes reflects the sensibility of the people who run Passion.
"We only make a noise when we've got something to make a noise about," says head of film and TV John Battsek, who joined Passion in 1997 after working in distribution and having a bad experience producing his first feature, The Serpent's Kiss.
Right now, there are three films at Sundance to shout about. They are Dan Gordon's Crossing The Line, Amir Bar-Lev's My Kid Could Paint That and David Sington's In The Shadow Of The Moon. Paul Yi is selling Crossing The Line, with the latter two represented by CAA and Submarine. Also their 2006 Black Sun is up for a Bafta.
Passion has only four people working on film and TV projects - most of the staff (and income) is from the commercials and animation side of the business. The TV business only started four months ago but has already finished its first wildlife documentary, Rhino Nights, for Animal Planet/Discovery Channel.
Passion is now gearing up for the shoot of its first fictional feature developed in-house. Thomas Vinterberg's How I Live Now is based on the Meg Rosoff novel to which Passion secured rights in a bidding war. The project has been set up with partners including Film4, the UK Film Council and Prospect Entertainment.
How I Live Now, which will soon cast, will shoot "somewhere bucolic" in the UK this summer with a $9.7m (£5m) budget. Many directors were interested but Vinterberg was the most passionate. "This book needs a sort of auteur who can bridge that gap in turning a very good story and give it a twist and a feel," says Andrew Ruhemann, Passion's chairman and founder.
Ruhemann, who is himself an animator who trained on Who Framed Roger Rabbit before founding Passion, would love to see the company expand beyond short animation (as with all its Gorillaz work) into an animated feature. "It's a source of big frustration that we haven't found the right animated feature yet," he says. "We've been talking to people about a few scripts. We need to find something really original and exciting."
Other projects in development - some potentially part of Passion's slate deal with Jeremy Thomas' Recorded Picture Company - include $8.1m (£4m) drama/documentary Unreasonable Behaviour, based on the life of war photographer Don McCullin; $3.9m (£2m) drama Urban Grimshaw based on Bernard Hare's book about a gang of feral children; feature documentary Killing The Flame, about late UN high commissioner Sergio Vieira De Mello; and BBC project Looking For John, about the tragic life of Ugandan athlete John Akii Bua.
The diverse slate is a source of pride. "I like the eclectic nature of what we do - you can have someone on one side of the office working on a cool animation alien for some music video, and then someone else is having a very serious discussion about Sergio Vieira De Mello and Iraq," Ruhemann says.
US-based partners Michael Davies of Embassy Row and Julie Goldman of Cactus Three help them navigate US deals and partners. With their growing reputation, they hope to build profits by being able to hold on to more rights for their films.
Passion plans to always have one foot in documentaries. "The truth is immensely more valuable and rewarding, and that can change our attitude toward the work we do," says Battsek (brother of Miramax's Daniel). "We still make fiction but with roots through our feet through the ground."
PASSION'S SUNDANCE LINE-UP
Crossing The Line, about a US soldier who defected to North Korea during the Cold War
In The Shadow Of The Moon, about the US space programme
My Kid Could Paint That, about a 4-year-old artist.