MADRID – Maxi Iglesias (“XP3D,” “Toledo”), Luis Fernandez (“XP3D,” “I Want You”) and Aura Garrido (“Stockholm,” “The Wishful Thinkers”) are attached to star in “Innocent Killers,” a murder imbroglio from Seville-based production house Aralan.

Shooting late Feb., “Killers” marks the feature directorial debut of Aralan partner Gonzalo Bendala.

“A suspenser, echoing elements of Hitchcock,” in the words of Aralan CEO Marta Velasco,  “Killers” turns on a university student (Iglesias) who, in dire straits, suddenly receives an godsend offer of money if he kills his psychology teacher (Miguel Angel Sola, “Night Runner”).

What makes the offer so singular is that it is his psychology teacher that makes him the offer.

Lauded for a his shorts – “Penumbra 3D,” the Goya-nommed “Spaghetti Western” – Bendala wrote “Killers’” screenplay with fellow short-film scribe-helmer Jose Manuel Asensio (“Al compas”).

Co-produced with Barcelona-based Distinto Films, Aralan’s debut feature as a production house, Patricia Ferreira’s social drama “The Wild Children,” won best film and best screenplay at 2012’s 15th Malaga Spanish Film Festival, Spain’s biggest national cinema showcase.

In two ways at least, “Killers” paints a larger picture of movie production in a cash-strapped Spain.

“Killers” is going into production after pulling down a pre-buy from pubcaster RTVE and receiving a screenplay-stage grant from Spain’s ICAA film institute: Essential backing these days in Spain when there is little visibility on ICAA’ future payment of films’ “automatic” grants, which are tabbed against box office results.

“Killers” also marks an attempt to cut what has become one of the biggest Gordian Knots for many Spanish filmmakers: How to continue to make films of some artistic merit while moving towards the mainstream.

Bendala’s debut is freely inspired by a sustained series of ingenious but unsuccessful attempts in the 1920s on the life of New York’s Michael Malloy, an ex-firefighter and legendary alcoholic. The case has originated songs, a theater play by Erik Jendressen, and “One For the Road,” an episode of TV series “Amazing Stories.”