Three of the UK 's top independent production companies - Ecosse Films, Recorded Picture Company (RPC) and Samuelson Productions - are teaming to create Visible Films. The new collaboration will work as an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to take advantage of the UK government's new film tax credit.

Under EIS rules, Visible will be eligible to raise up to $46m (£24m) - or $15.6m (£8m) for each company's scheme - although the three will be marketed to private UK investors as the single Visible product.

The three companies stressed that there is no guarantee of an amount to be raised at this stage, and made no predictions as to the number of films that will be backed. Budgets for each film are expected to be in the usual range of $7.8m-$19.5m (£4-£10m).

Peter Watson, chief executive of Jeremy Thomas' RPC, noted that combining the EIS idea with the new tax credit was 'completely above the board. They aren't mutually exclusive and they actually marry together.'

The UK government passed EIS legislation in 1997 to encourage private investment in entrepreneurial businesses.The new UK tax credit recently came into effect after the UK government abolished the previous Section 42 and 48 schemes. Films need to primarily shoot in the UK to qualify for the UK credit.

Unlike various intermediary schemes set up during the previous Section 48/sale-and-leaseback schemes, Visible will offer the track record of the producers as well as the aim of building a long-term film business.

Producer Marc Samuelson said: 'All three companies want to build sustainable, substantial companies. We're not about making one film and then three years making another one.'

The three partners said they hoped the scheme would be active for at least 'several years.'

Visible will back up to 45% of any individual film's budget. No projects are confirmed yet because no funding has been raised, the partners said.

Robert Bernstein of Ecosse noted: 'Because the EIS company will be one of the main investors in a film, there will be a much better chance for a realistic upside.' Samuelson said that the scheme would limit the downside to 26% of investment.

Film finance veteran Anne Sheehan helped devise the tax structure of the scheme and will administer Visible and liase with each of the three production companies. She will serve as executive producer of each film produced through Visible.

Sheehan noted that Visible will also fund third-party projects in addition to projects already in development at the three production companies. Each company will continue to offer a slightly different sensibility: Ecosse's track record includes Mrs Brown and the forthcoming Becoming Jane; RPC has made films ranging from The Last Emperor to Sexy Beast and Fast Food Nation; and Samuelson's recent outputhas included Stormbreaker and The Libertine.

Bernstein added that the fund could help all three producers with international ambitions. 'If producers can bring a certain amount to the table can bring us a higher profile internationally as well.'

Watson noted that producers banding together for funding was a sign of potential strength, not weakness, in the UK industry. 'As a consequence of the government's new film tax credit, producers have equity. That's a good thing. The government policy is helping producers secure ownership in films and help them raise investments for their businesses.'

Sheehan is one of only two full-time Visible employees, likely to grow to a very small number of core staffers working in business affairs, finance, and investor relations.

Plans for the fund are still awaiting final approval from the Financial Services Authority. Braemar Securities Ltd will promote the scheme to investors.

Sheehan noted that the EIS structure had various restrictions, such as 80% of funds needing to be spent within 12 months of the start of trading. However, it would be less prohibitive than the UK 's former Section 42 and 48 film tax regimes.