The UK Film Council hasappointed Sally Caplan to replace Robert Jones as chief of its high-profileNational Lottery fund for commercial films, the Premiere Fund.

Caplan, currently presidentof Icon Film Distribution in the UK, told staff on Friday that she was takingthe position, which puts the well-liked executive in charge of the Council'sbiggest production fund, worth around £8m a year.

Caplan, whose background isprimarily in acquisitions along with business affairs, previously worked withJones at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. She then worked at UK distributorMomentum Pictures before joining Icon last year.

Jones announced earlier thisyear that he was leaving the Council to head Material Entertainment, a newLondon-based production company jointly owned by Nigel and Trevor Green'sEntertainment Film Distributors and New Line Cinema.

The post of Premiere Fundchief was advertised as a fixed-term contract of two years, plus an option toextend for a two further years. The other fund chiefs at the council, JennyBorgars, who runs the development fund, and Paul Trijbits, head of the NewCinema Fund for low budget films, are staying in their posts until March 2007and September 2006 respectively.

Jones backed such films as GosfordPark, Vera Drake and Young Adam. Controversially, he took executive producercredits, a practice which Caplan is not expected to continue.

John Woodward, chief executive of the Council said: "Sally is an exceptional executive chosen from an extremely strong field. Her experience in acquisitions and development, and her range of contacts make her an extremely valuable asset. Sally will also bring a more acquisitions based approach in keeping with the evolution of the fund."

Caplan said: "I'm really excited by the challenge ahead of me. It's a wrench to leave Icon but the opportunity to run the Premiere Fund was just too interesting to turn down."