UK producer Renaissance Films has teamed up with Paul Allen's Clear Blue Sky Productions in a three-year co-financing and co-producing deal.

Renaissance will handle international sales on at least five films to be produced under the agreement which will see the partners share investment and profits. The first project under the deal is Marleen Gorris' The Luzhin Defense starring Emily Watson and John Turturro, which is now in post-production.

Both companies are cash rich - Renaissance thanks to the $40m worth of equity it raised from City institution Hermes Investment Management, and Clear Blue Sky thanks to owner Allen who co-founded Microsoft. The deal marks Allen's first film investment outside the US. Clear Blue Sky has so far been involved with Julie Taymor's Titus and John Sayles' Men With Guns. Luzhin Defense is Renaissance's debut project.

'If the relationship is to work, we'll do a lot of movies together with very few exceptions,' said Angus Finney, Renaissance's joint managing director, adding that the deal will streamline and speed up the production process. He said the films will be in the $5m-$25m range.

One exception is Disco Pigs, which Renaissance has just boarded. The film is based on Enda Walsh's stage play about two tearaway Irish teenagers celebrating their seventeenth birthdays, to be played by Elaine Cassidy (Felicia's Journey) and Cillian Murphy (The Smiling Suicide Club).

Kirsten Sheridan will direct from a screenplay by Walsh, while Ed Guiney's Dublin-based Temple Films will produce. Production is scheduled to start in April for an October delivery. The Irish Film Board is co-financing with Renaissance, which has taken world rights.