Black Camel Pictures has come a long way in a short time. Producers Arabella Page Croft and Kieran Parker formed the company in 2004 in Glasgow, and by Cannes 2007 their debut feature, Outpost, was sold across the world, with Sony Pictures taking all English-language territories - a unique achievement for a new Scottish company.
Outpost was released for a small theatrical run in the UK in May (the DVD release will follow this autumn) leaving the Glasgow-based duo to focus on an ambitious slate of new productions, ranging from vampire/cop revenge thriller Blood Makes Noise to backpacker horror thriller The Devil's Staircase, romantic comedy Long Distance Lover, written by Chris Sussman and Dan Hyde, and the inevitable Outpost 2: The Red Zone.
'Whether you like Outpost or not, starting a company with a first feature that sold out worldwide with Sony attached gets you in the door and gets you meetings,' Parker says (the film took a respectable $310,000 via Top Film in Russia). 'The movies I want to make are big, commercially driven films. It's an industry and the company ethos has to be underwritten by a sense of responsibility towards the financiers.'
The hard-edged commercial focus of Black Camel is the legacy of both partners' previous experience in the industry. Parker has worked extensively as a line producer and production manager. Page Croft was an executive producer for Short Film Factory and part of the production company Three Sisters.
'Three Sisters had a project which was based on the Melvyn Bragg novel The Soldier's Return, set just after the Second World War. Dougray Scott was attached. It was a really good script,' she recalls. 'I spent 18 months trying to finance that film and went nowhere. That was a really steep learning curve for me. You really have to listen to the market and be in dialogue with your sales agent all the time.'
Outpost, an unashamedly B-movie chiller about Nazi zombies on the rampage, was backed by ContentFilm and Matador Pictures and directed by Steve Barker. Barker will also direct Blood Makes Noise and the company still plans to make his first screenplay, Breathe, which they describe as a 'female Bourne Supremacy'.
'Ideally we want to get to a position where we can bring in other producers and help to nurture talent,' says Page Croft. 'We have a project at the moment with Thomas Ikimi, who made the micro-budget feature Limbo. He's a real talent and so hard working. We hope to shoot that before the end of the year.'
Maintaining a commitment to Scotland is important to the duo, but realism will always triumph over sentiment. Breathe was originally set in the Scottish Highlands but now seems likely to emerge as a Canadian co-production set in the US.
'Ideally we want to make films in Scotland,' says Parker. 'The talent base is here, the locations are fantastic, the crews are great and there is an increasing number of very bankable Scottish actors like James McAvoy and Tilda Swinton. On the other hand, you can generally find a way to shoot it cheaper elsewhere. If we could make films here with American money, that would be the ideal. Right now, we're just finding our route to the finance.'