Writer/director Steve Pasvolsky's short film Inja failed to win an Oscar in the live action category for which it was nominated, but yesterday he got a very significant consolation prize: the Film Finance Corporation (FFC) agreed to invest in his debut feature Deck Dogz. Pay-TV outfit The Movie Network is the other equity investor.

Universal has already acquired the film for Australia, the UK, Japan and Latin America, a higher than usual number of pre-sales for an Australian film.

Arclight Films holds worldwide sales rights and managing director Gary Hamilton worked closely with executive producers Richard Sheffield and producers Bill Bennett and Jennifer Bennett to secure the deal.

"It's a killer script, there is lots of heat on Steve, and it is a very commercial premise," says Bill Bennett, who met the then 26-year-old builder Pasvolsky in 1994 and subsequently hired him to build a house.

The other film approved for funding by the FFC was More Than Scarlett. While it is the debut feature for both writer/director Cate Shortland and producer Anthony Anderson, it is not for its executive producer, the highly experienced Jan Chapman, who produced Lantana and The Piano.

Fortissimo is handling international sales, Hopscotch the local release and there are free-to-air and pay television presales to SBS TV and Showtime respectively.

Showtime is also an investor and the New South Wales Film and Television Office (FTO) is also likely to approve injecting some cash this week. It is the first project to be financed that has gone through the FTO's Aurora intensive development workshops introduced last year (see separate story).

More Than Scarlet is set in an Australian ski resort and traces an adolescent girl's discovery of the difference between sex and love.