Civilian Content, thepublicly-listed UK media concern, has teamed with tax-based financier SureFireon a $46m (£25m) fund that could offer producers up to 50% of their budget.

Civilian and SureFirestarted raising the cash last week for the fund, which will provide equity andsale and leaseback funding through UK tax mechanism Section 48. The twocompanies have previously partnered on development financing for projects suchas River Queen, Vincent Ward's New Zealand period piece starringSamantha Morton.

Civilian's managingdirector, Chris Auty, who sits on the advisory board for the fund, said thatfew UK tax funds had managed to forge such close links with the film industry."That to me is the unique selling point of the whole thing," he said. "We will beactively involved in managing the productions ourselves."

The level of investment ineach project will vary on a case-by-case basis, but could potentially go over50% of the budget. That amount of financing means the SureFire production fundwill rival even the accountancy schemes that were frozen in the February 10clamp-down.

However, SureFire co-founderMichael Henry stressed that the scheme was purely using Section 48, thegovernment's film-specific tax relief.

"We are only involved instatutory tax schemes that benefit the industry," he said. "We perceiveSureFire as more on the side of the film producer than intermediaries."

Henry and SureFire co-ownerJames Atherton became non-executive directors of Civilian when the twocompanies formed a joint venture for development funding last month. SureFirealso has a 2.38% stake in Civilian, which combines production and, through TheWorks, international sales.

Civilian is expected to useits SureFire development cash to bid for one of the UK Film Council's so-calledsuper slate deals. The company's six-year National Lottery franchise recentlyexpired but it has secured a new industry partner in Domenico Procacci, head of dynamic Italian distributor-producerFandango, who acquireda 29% stake in Civilian in January.

Also in the works atCivilian is Silk, adapted from the best seller by Alessandro Baricco.Francois Girard is to direct, with Procacci and Nadine Luque producing.Meanwhile, An Education is a bitter-sweet coming of age story written bybest-selling novelist Nick Hornby from a memoir by journalist Lynn Barber.

For full story, seeScreen International's weekly edition this week.