October Films founder Tom Roberts has left the company after almost 20 years to focus on directing his own feature films.
Roberts has sold the bulk of his stake in the factual indie to managing director Denman Rooke and creative director Adam Bullmore after they approached him about a management buyout of the company.

“There was always going to be a point when it would be time to move on, so I took advantage of their offer,” Roberts told Broadcast.

Roberts had scaled back his day-to-day involvement in the company in recent years, but remained on its board as an executive producer.

He will now develop a series of feature films which he plans to direct and co-write. His debut feature, In Tranzit, with John Malkovich, is awaiting a release but is tied up in legal issues.

Roberts, a former BBC producer on Panorama and Newsnight, founded October in 1989. He has made more than 100 documentaries including Channel 4's Inside the Mind of the Suicide Bomber and BBC2-PBS co-production The Insurgency. Last year, he was one of the leading protesters against budget cuts for the BBC's Storyville documentary strand. He is currently in pre-production with a Storyville film for October about the heroic mythology that has built up around the US Seventh Cavalry.

Rooke said he and Bullmore now remained focused on building the company after a tough year for factual indies.

“We'll retain our association with Tom and hope he will be able to executive produce on a freelance basis where the opportunity arises,” he said.

October Films is set to move into new offices next month following a period of expansion.