New F&ME fund to spread the wealth

'Spy Princess' will be first project to benefit

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CANNES -- U.K.-based finance and production house Film & Music Entertainment, headed by veteran producers Mike Downey and Sam Taylor, is pumping $1 million into a startup development fund.

Downey said the cash will be made available to third-party projects, in addition to being available to F&ME's in-house productions.

The cash is sourced from a mixture of private equity, European Union Media support and the company's own money.

F&ME, which specializes in co-production models of financing, is backing a slate of 10 projects in 2009 and 2010. Previous projects from the banner include Dominic Murphy's directorial debut "White Lightnin'."

The first project to benefit from the development fund will be Shrabani Basu's "Spy Princess," based on the story of Sufi Islamist Noor Inayat Khan.

A descendant of the Tiger of Mysore, Khan was awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre during World War II.

The script is being developed in collaboration with London-based Indian writer Kishwar Desai and deals with her recruitment and training as the first female wireless operator to be flown into occupied France. Though instructed by controller Maurice Buckmaster to return home, she refused to abandon her post as the last operator in Paris and was eventually captured by the Gestapo, tortured and shot at Dachau.

F&ME also is busy working with Murphy on the Biafra set of "Jesus Christ Airlines," currently being scripted by Kit Peel.

The company also is continuing its collaboration with Boris T. Matic's Propeler Film, commissioning a screenplay from filmmaker Antonio Nuic titled "Frog." The movie is set on Christmas Eve in a small barbershop and details a fight between two brothers about God, family, honesty and courage among other things.

F&ME recently inked an exclusive representation arrangement with William Morris in the U.S. for all its companies and the first fruits of that relationship are expected in the coming days.