EXCLUSIVE: Former City investment manager Nicola Horlick to produce via Derby Street Films.

Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first Twilight film is in discussions to direct Diamond, a gangster film set in 1960s swinging London.

Diamond will be the first film to be produced by Nicola Horlick, the former City of London “superwoman” investment manager. Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (Frankie and Alice) are writing the screenplay, and the project could shoot in 2013.

Hardwicke is currently casting her next movie Plush, an erotic thriller starring Evan Rachel Wood, which IM Global is selling.

Horlick is developing Diamond through her Derby Street Films development fund, which has raised $2.5m through an Enterprise Investment Scheme. Derby Street is developing eight feature films, mostly working with US companies including Inferno Entertainment and Cargo Entertainment.

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Derby Street takes over the development of properties brought in by producers, being repaid its investment plus a premium and a five per cent slug of equity on the first day of principal photography. The scheme is similar to the original Goldcrest Films, which started out as a development fund for Penguin Books.

Horlick says she is working mainly with US producers because development money is scarce in the US outside of Hollywood studios.

Derby Steet estimates that its average investment per property is $185,000.

As to why private investors would want to get involved in something as risky as development – when so many projects never make it to filming – Horlick says her model is based on 60% of scripts going into production. “We’re working with top-notch producers who have a track record in getting projects made,” she says.

Projects that Derby Street is developing with US partners include Cargo’s In the Blood, starring martial arts star Gina Carano (Haywire), which director John Stockwell starts shooting in June; Inferno’s Arabian Nights, a $70m fantasy shooting in China, Kazakhstan and Hawaii later this year; and Shadowmancer, based on GP Taylor’s fantasy novel, which Peter Bevan of Los Angeles-based E-Motion is developing as a 2x90’’ television miniseries. Universal was at one point developing Shadowmancer as a feature.

Horlick is going back into the market to raise another $3m for Derby Street Films 2, which will develop another 10 projects.

Derby Street’s investment committee includes Maggie Monteith of Dignity Film Finance; Shaun Redick and Ray Mansfield of Los Angeles-based Movie Packaging Co.; and James Gibb of music fund Cutting Edge Group.

Horlick admits that for now she doesn’t know if the Derby Street funding model will work. “The proof of the actual concept is when projects start converting this summer,” she says.