Founded a decade ago by Yuri Sapronov and Andrei Smirnov, Russian World Studios (RWS) comprises state-of-the-art studios in both Moscow and St Petersburg, a production company, a location scouting service and a camera rental house.
The company is now preparing to launch a production and distribution unit with Sergei Chliyants' Moscow-based New Cinema Studio. Under the deal, New Cinema Studio, which includes New Cinema Marketing and New Cinema Distribution, will become a division of RWS, responsible for the production and distribution of feature films, including co-productions. Chliyants will head the new division.
The partners plan to produce at least six feature films a year. Projects in the works include Casual, based on the novel by Oksana Robsky; and Daddy's Daughter, directed by Dmitry Meskhiev, who is also the director of RWS St Petersburg.
The partners plan to sell their own projects, as well as third-party titles, internationally. The company was at the European Film Market in Berlin under the RWS banner for the first time this month. 'Last year we received a Cinema for Peace award at the Berlinale for our short The Spirit, a co-production with Joseph Fiennes. This year we had a stand,' explains RWS's international vice-president Olga Sinelshchikova.
One of the titles RWS is selling is Aleksandr Strizhenov's Yulenka, a fantasy thriller about a teacher at a remote school who discovers something strange about his pupils. Caroprokat is distributing Yulenka in Russia. Separately, RWS has recently wrapped production on Vladimir Shchegolkov's three-part miniseries Moscow Yard.
Sinelshchikova says international co-productions are a priority: 'We welcome any foreign interest, regardless of where it comes from, as long as the project is interesting and potentially profitable.'
RWS says its production plans have yet to be hit by the credit crunch and is planning to invest $100m in the second stage of construction of the St Petersburg facility. It will include a 21,500 sq ft stage, special-effects studio and film processing lab. RWS hopes to start construction some time this year.
According to Sapronov, around 25% of the Russian film business is based in St Petersburg, with the big money concentrated in Moscow. However, he says there are plans to bring some of that money to St Petersburg soon and he is confident some of the $118.3m (rub4.3bn) the government plans to pump into the industry from 2010 will find its way to the city.