Tony Kaye is back. Though he has stayed busy shooting the kind of innovative commercials and music videos that first made his name, the maverick conceptual artist and director has not had a feature in cinemas since his 1998 debut American History X, the edgy drama about neo-Nazi skinheads that was the focus of a very public and very bizarre final-cut tussle between Kaye, star Edward Norton and studio New Line.

But now the 55-year-old US-based Brit is working on a string of feature projects, among them abortion documentary Lake Of Fire and New Orleans-set thriller Black Water Transit.

And he is doing it with what he says is 'a much healthier outlook' than the one that led to the 'destructive behaviour' of the American History X saga (set to be related for the film's 10th anniversary DVD re-issue in Kaye's diary documentary Humpty Dumpty).

'I feel I'm in the industry again,' says the contrite-sounding film-maker.

Kaye's only remaining task on Lake Of Fire is to help give the well received but challenging documentary - acquired for the world by ThinkFilm at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and just released in New York and Los Angeles - a promotional push.

He began the project when he first came to the US in 1990 and, as well as acting as writer, producer, cinematographer and director, covered the $6m budget himself.

Early on, 'I didn't really know what a documentary was,' he admits. 'I had the notion that you just start and figure it out as you go along.' Then the concept of making a 'non-propagandist' film about the US abortion debate developed. The result is a powerful look at every aspect of the debate.

Black Water Transit - based on a Carsten Stroud novel, financed and sold by ThinkFilm sister company Capitol Films and starring Laurence Fishburne and Karl Urban - is currently being edited in London after its summer shoot in New Orleans.

Set just after Hurricane Katrina, the cop thriller is structured 'like a jazz funeral for the city', says its maker. 'A jazz funeral is about rebirth. The chaos of the characters jibes well with the chaos of the city at that point.'

If Black Water Transit confirms his industry rehabilitation, Kaye has his eye on several other projects. Penitentiary, a futuristic tale about corporate-backed prison prizefighting, is in the works with Thom Mount's Reliant Pictures. He is also interested in a script about capital punishment, a screenplay from Robert McKee and a project written by Mickey Rourke.

There is also a script Kaye himself has almost completed. But because it would make for a big, expensive film, that might have to wait a little longer. 'Although I'm back in the business,' Kaye concedes, 'I don't know if I'm quite back in the 'big' business yet.'