The Australian Film Commission (AFC) has put aside $596,000 (A$1.16m) in public money for this financial year for producers -- and writer/directors in exceptional circumstances - to develop a slate of projects. This is nearly double last year's allocation although the cap on individual awards remains $35,975 (A$70,000).

The extra money has come from the returns from projects made under the now defunct Commercial Television Production Fund and, in line with this, television projects can now be included in the slate. Eighteen of the 51 recipients of this type of investment, introduced in early 2000, have successfully raised finance for 37 new productions, according to Owen Johnston, the AFC's acting director of film development and marketing. A significant number were feature films.

The applicant-linked, rather than project-linked or draft-by-draft investment loans can cover development costs, producer fees and overheads. Principally judged on track record it aims to provide stability for independent producers while releasing them from being quite so dependant on government agencies while developing and financing projects.

See this week's Screen International, the sister publication to Screendaily for an in-depth look at Australia's current film funding strategies.