Thema, the Luxembourg-based productioncompany, is rapidly ramping up its activities - opening a new,5,000-square-metre state-of-the-art studio in St Petersburg, Russia bySeptember and starting a UK operation headed up by formerentertainment lawyer Kami Nagdhi.
Thema, an offshoot of Russian financial servicesgiant AFK Sistema, has also expanded its investmentactivities in the last month, coming in as part-financier on two productions -Peace Arch's $5m Delirious, withSteve Buscemi and Michael Pitt, and Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn, with Christian Bale.
Since producersMichael Dounaev and Jimmy De Brabant (of
To act as afurther lure for foreign productions, Thema runs itsown film financing fund from private equity and can "come in as co-financiersif that is required," says Nagdhi. "We have our owngreen-lighting procedure and can take away the hassle of [securing] privateequity money."
AFK Sistema, whose offshoot SistemaMass Media fully owns Thema SA, was part-floated (16.4percent) on the London Stock Exchange in Russia's largest-ever IPO lastFebruary, raising $1.56bn.
For its next bigproduction, Thema has secured the co-operation ofYuri Gagarin's estate in a bid to tell the Russian astronaut's life story, withvaluable pre-clearance to shoot at
According to Nagdhi, Managing Director of Thema'snew London setup and head of worldwide development for the company, Thema's "film-financing activities will now be based inLondon. We're very well placed to develop projects from here," he added.