Diversity and synergy are two themes that get a lot of airplay in Hollywood - and more often than not the words are bandied about in an off-hand way that robs them of their currency. Yet they are at the core of what Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey's Icon group of companies stands for these days, and it would take a brave or foolish person to bet against the independent powerhouse.
Since the promotion of Mark Gooder to CEO of Icon Productions and the appointment of Ariel Veneziano as head of Icon Entertainment International - with both executives joining Gibson and Davey in Icon's Los Angeles operation - there has been much talk of inter-divisional collaboration as the venture extends its scope. And as Veneziano meets with buyers at this week's European Film Market (EFM) to unveil several new projects, the emphasis will remain on quality, albeit on a broader scale.
'We're reaching out to global audiences further than ever before and we're becoming significantly involved in cast-driven projects originating from Los Angeles,' Veneziano says. 'We're increasing the volume of third-party acquisitions and making sure we elevate the profile of the casts and work with world-class directors.'
At the EFM, Veneziano will show the first footage of Push, the Paul McGuigan thriller, starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning and Djimon Hounsou, which Icon is co-financing and co-selling with Summit. The company's roster also includes Triangle, a Dead Calm-style thriller, directed by the UK's Chris Smith (Severance), from Icon and the UK Film Council. Elissa Down's coming-of-age story The Black Balloon stars Toni Collette and Gemma Ward and will open Berlin's Generation programme. The company will unveil two further projects at the market and handle select films from Veneziano's former employer, GreeneStreet Films International.
'The slate demonstrates a true diversity,' Veneziano says. 'We have broad entertainment that will play to larger audiences and smaller films that suit different demographics.'
Gooder agrees: 'We're looking for anything. We have to respond to it and to the people in it and be certain there are elements attached that excite us as buyers and that will excite the people who buy from us.
'We're the most successful independent distributor in Australia so we know how to survive, and if you look at our recent UK releases, we've had real success with a range of titles like Once, La Vie En Rose, Bridge To Terabithia, 30 Days Of Night and Dan In Real Life.'
Gooder, to whom Veneziano reports, says there is a strong desire at the company to leverage the sales operations in London and Los Angeles to find high-profile acquisitions and forge long-lasting ties with film-makers, actors and financiers.
'We're using more of our UK and Australian contacts to get good material in the marketplace,' he says. 'In the past, the UK has been a hub of activity for the model of sales and distribution, but the arrival of Ariel is an acknowledgement that we need to be aggressive in the Los Angeles world in order to be able to acquire and develop some of the stronger projects.'