Telefilm Canada has selected three Canadian production companies for its Slate Development Pilot Program (SDPP): Gabriella Martinelli's Capri Films, Paul Gross' Whizbang Films and Robert Vince's Keystone Pictures.

Financed under the Canadian Feature Film Fund (CFFF), the slate development pilot program was established last year to match Canadian producers with Canadian distributors. The goal is to develop more projects with commercial prospects. Eligible producers cannot have received envelope financing from the Canadian Feature Film Fund.

Capri, which co-produced Terry Gilliam's Tideland, will work with Montreal-based distributor Equinoxe Films while Whizbang, co-producers of TIFF 2008 opener Passchendaele, and Keystone will work with Alliance Films. The programme provides the production company with a three-year, non-interest-bearing line of credit. The access to capital is meant to underwrite the development process of multiple projects as opposed to the piece-meal approach typical of the Canadian production industry.

The idea is that producers will gain some breathing space and hence gain a measure of creative autonomy while establishing a longer-term relationship with a distributor. That said, Whizbang already has a relationship with Alliance who distributed Passchendaele, which Gross directed, wrote and starred in. In the same vein, Martinelli has worked with Equinoxe on earlier pictures.

Other pairings previously announced under the programme include producer Infinity Pictures and distributor Seville Pictures, and producer Anagram Pictures and distributor Maple Pictures.