Zentropa Internationale, the recently-launched international arm of Dogme co-creators Zentropa, has partnered with start-up UK production house Cylo Film to form a new strand of innovative films where Dogme meets The X-Files.
Although not being made as Dogme films, the English-language paranormal thrillers are to combine a quasi-documentary style with paranormal events, possibly using cutting edge digital technology and subtle special effects. The films will be produced under a banner titled Caligari, a reference to the expressionist horror classic The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari.
Cylo, a production arm formed around UK commercials house Branded Film, has initially partnered for five films with Zentropa Internationale, launched in January by Lars von Trier and Peter Aalbaek Jensen's progressive Danish production house to make films for international markets.
"Dogme films have a quasi-documentary style that involves you in the lives of ordinary people, which is a good basis for a thriller," said Cylo head of film and TV Hans Baernhoft. "We want to take it one step further, using paranormal elements in a way that could be believable."
Ole Sondberg, head of Zentropa Internationale, added: "We want to make films with stories that you think could happen. For example, imagine that you met a relative whom you had not seen for a long time and that you thought was dead."
Cylo and Zentropa will jointly fund development, which will be based out of Cylo's London office. The features will primarily use UK and US writers and talent.
Production will switch to Denmark, where Zentropa will cover costs by using its studio and production facilities, along with pre-sales and minimum guarantees through Zentropa's sales arm Trust Film Sales. Trust will handle worldwide sales.
If successful, the partners aim to spin off the venture as a company under the name Caligari in order to help build and protect a brand.
The films may be shot using Sony 24P, a video format that helps the use of special effects by allowing for greater manipulation in post-production.
"We have to make provisions for effects, but we have to use those effects very carefully," Baernhoft said. "We are not setting up a feature film, make-believe world, we are setting up a documentary world. The effects have to come as a complete surprise - or not be noticed."