BELBROUGHTON financier James Grenfell's project is backing a new online film distributor which specialises in making modern movies from classic plays.

James, a partner with Birmingham's Orbis Corporate Finance, together with Games Media founder Roy Howell, are leading investors in the European Drama Network - which produces and distributes its films via the internet for a global home cinema market.

And it's first project The Mandrake Root, which was shot in High Definition on the mediterranean island of Sardinia, is set for release next month.

Based on a comedy play written in 1512 by the infamous Niccolò Machiavelli - it is a humorous tale of desire, deceit, cunning and success, starring Birmingham actress Chara Jackson as the wife of a foolish lawyer tricked into letting another man sleep with her.

Funded by regional film agency Screen WM, the movie was directed by Italian based British theatre director Malachi Bogdanov and produced by Simon Woods - the former CEO of Birmingham School of Acting and the man who discovered Birmingham pop/reggae band UB40.

Investor James told the News: "There aren't that many people doing this, so I just think it's a really exciting project and one that needs to be financed.

"It's worked extremely well with music, but it hasn't been taken up yet with video distribution - so it's a very important growth area of the market."

Post production was completed in Birmingham and the film has just undergone a series of test screenings ahead of its premier at Birmingham's Cineworld next month.

Being released in four languages, the movie will then be available from the company's website, to rent or buy as a Video on Demand (VoD) or DVD.

It is also being shown to the public at an outdoor screening on the Curzon Street carpark, by Birmingham's Millennium Point, on the longest day - Saturday June 21, starting at 9pm.

Admission is £4 on the night.