Mark Herbert, managing director of Warp Films in the UK, said he wanted to get involved with Australian filmmakers when he visited in October last year; he has turned out to be a man of his word.

Warp, which is based in Sheffield in Yorkshire, plans to work with Melbourne-based distributor Madman to identify and produce at least two bold, high-risk high-energy low-budget films in the next three years. These are the kinds of films that have been made under the Warp X initiative in the UK.

Madman executive Anna McLeish will be in charge of the venture at the Australian end. She first dealt with Herbert and his business partner Robin Gutch when Madman distributed Shane Meadows' This Is England.

Madman later picked up A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures and Donkey Punch, both of which were chosen for Sundance this year, and pre-bought Hush. All three were made under Warp X -- which is a partnership with the UK Film Council, Film4, EM Media, Screen Yorkshire and Optimum Releasing.

Paul Wiegard, who heads Madman, describes the two companies as like-minded and the venture into film development as a natural progression. Madman had a big hit with Kenny and McLeish worked closely with the filmmakers of that film.

McLeish has driven Madman's theatrical activities since the company expanded its home entertainment business four years ago. The president of the Australian Independent Distributor's Association last week handed the reins of her old job to former Melbourne International Film Festival executive director James Hewison.

'Last year I attended SPAA for the first time and met some fantastic producers, writers and directors,' Herbert said in a statement. 'I believe that we can develop some market focussed yet leftfield films, by bringing together the Warp brand with Madman's fantastic knowledge of the Australian filmmaking landscape.'

'The industry-leading achievements of Warp to date are the hallmark of a team delivering filmmaking in an energetic and creative way,' added McLeish. 'I'm inspired to be working with Mark and Robin as part of Warp's forward path, and continuing what has been a great ride with Madman.'

'The association with like-minded Warp is a natural progression for Madman into film development,' said Wiegard. 'Warp's exuberance and decision making processes will add a new dynamic to local production.'