When he relocated to Los Angeles last August, ContentFilm International president Jamie Carmichael was "in search of bigger and stronger films".

And the move, says Carmichael, who set up the international sales arm of the UK's ContentFilm plc in London six-and-a-half years ago, "has been quite transformational".

With its front office effectively in Santa Monica - where head of sales Harry White and head of international marketing Judith Baugin are also based - and its back office in London, ContentFilm International is, its chief says, better able to compete for the kind of commercial US films the international market hungers after.

"I've been coming over to Los Angeles for quite a long time," Carmichael says, "and I have a pretty good network of relationships. Being here 24 hours a day, I'm more able to work those relationships and to find the material. It's been so much more productive."

The first fruits of the move will be on display at the Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market, where ContentFilm's slate includes market premiere The Winning Season, the high school comedy from Sundance 2007 award-winning director James Strouse, and Departures, the Japanese drama nominated for this year's best foreign-language film Oscar.

During Berlin, Carmichael plans to unveil two "quite big" script-stage projects that he has also picked up since relocating.

The new additions join a line-up that reflects Content's take on the international marketplace. The Winning Season fits in beside Mike Judge's Extract as a comedy with, says Carmichael, "an emotional component that broadens the appeal".

The Messenger, which is in competition at Berlin, is an Iraq war-themed buddy drama from producer Mark Gordon (see review, p23). "It's a relatively challenging subject," Carmichael concedes, "but it's an incredibly emotional and actually very funny film that has a great chance to be the first Iraq war movie to break through."

And market premiere suspense thriller The Killing Room is indicative of Content's continuing interest in genre material.

Currently on the company's wish list, meanwhile, are action thrillers in the $20m-$25m budget range, for which Carmichael sees "a bit of a gap in the market right now".

Content also has its eye on "two or three really strong rom-coms", one of which it hopes to secure in time for Cannes.

ContentFilm International's quest for bigger, stronger films could allow Carmichael to handle the level of project he sometimes dealt with during stints in London with the sales teams at Majestic, Lumiere and Icon.

And the operation's new US focus is already paying off, professionally and personally. "I've really enjoyed the speed and quality of the business," says Carmichael, whose family has moved with him from chilly London to subtropical California. "And on a personal level, it's been fantastic. I love working in Santa Monica. Don't tell anyone, but it's sunny every day."