This is a big year for Anne Francois and her company Tactics. The producer, who divides her time between Los Angeles and Paris, has been actively developing four projects for the last few years and she says the scripts are ready to go; 2009 is her target year to move into production on at least one.
It has been a long journey for Francois since her last feature, Peroxide Passion, shot in 2001 but she has invested a lot of time in the development process.
'It's so difficult and time-consuming to put everything together as an independent producer,' she says. 'Somebody told me the other day that when a producer like me gets to shoot a film, they should win the Academy Award.'
Francois has had a long and distinguished career in the film business on both sides of the Atlantic, but not all of it in production. She started as a booker for the Gaumont theatre circuit in France and later worked at the Paris-based advertising agency taking care of both Gaumont and Twentieth Century Fox product in France.
She moved into distribution on setting up independent outfit AAA, which released international titles such as The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence as well as local hits Three Men And A Cradle (Trois Hommes Et Un Couffin) and La Balance. After AAA, she and Alain Vannier set up Afmd but she eventually sold her share to Vannier who relaunched it as Ocean Films in 1999.
She had made her first steps into production while still a distributor, notably producing Jerry Schatzberg's Reunion in 1989 and hit French comedies Genial, Mes Parents Divorcent! (1991) and Neuf Mois (1994). It was the US remake of the latter, Nine Months starring Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore, which brought her to Los Angeles and inspired her to focus exclusively on production. In 1999, she also remade Genial... as Operation Splitsville.
Her 2008 production slate represents, she says, the 'bridge between the two cultures'. Thierry Lhermitte is attached to star in an as-yet-untitled SOS Doctors project based on the true story of a Parisian doctor who tried to establish an emergency home medical service in Los Angeles. Christopher Monger (The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain) has written the screenplay for the film which will be shot in Los Angeles but which Francois is structuring as a France-UK co-production.
Also on the slate is Trust Me! (Faites-Moi Confiance!), a romantic heist film set on the French Riviera and based on a short story by Auguste le Breton. That, she says, is a French film to be financed in the classic French tradition with a screenplay by Ivan Calberac, whose credits include On Va S'Aimer and Irene.
Francois' other projects are both US-set - a film of Donald E Westlake's novel Brothers Keepers and low-budget horror film Friendly which will be directed by Patrick Taulere.
Trust Me! should shoot next spring, she says, but then again an independent producer can never be sure. 'I think they are fully developed now and each has good elements in them, but I don't know which is going to go first.'