UK support body the Film Council has funded the option on Lisa Michael's hotly contested novel Grand Ambition as part of the second round of awards from its $7.2m (£5m) a year development fund.

Set in 1920s America, the love story was optioned by producers Diana Phillips (Bad Lieutenant, Birthday Girl) and Robert Fox (The Hours, Iris). Nicholas Rohl is adapting the debut novel, based on the true story of a young couple running the rapids of the Grand Canyon in a home-made boat.

Careful to not be seen competing against UK producers bidding for material, the council said in a carefully worded statement that: "The Development Fund investment secured Fox Philips' option on the project against tough competition."

Martha Fiennes, who impressed many with her directing debut Onegin, was amongst the filmmakers benefiting from the second wave of funding. She is to direct Revolving Door, written by Peter Jukes and produced by Paul Arnott. The project tells the story of a tough Secret Service agent who falls for a high-class prostitute, only to discover she is his next target.

Also dipping into the fund's total investment of $376,073 (£202,636) was In Every Dream Home, a thriller exploring what happens when three Harvard students are held to ransom. The film is being produced by Xavier Marchand, Debbie Balderstone and Jane Moore at Haystack Productions and written by William Morrissey.

L'Amour Fou is London-set drama being written by actress Jodhi May, while The Criminal's Julian Simpson is adapting One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night from Christopher Brookmyre's novel.

Other funding recipients included The Rose Grower, an adaptation of Michelle de Kretser's novel being written by Leigh Jackson. Judy Counihan and Lila Rawlings are producing through their company, Pearl Pictures

The Third Day is a sci-fi thriller being produced by Sheryl Crown of Rubicon Pictures, while Sam Taylor is producing Sensation, which looks at what happens when a teen pop idol goes missing on the eve of an awards ceremony.

Comedy Salsa Con Fusion will be writer-director Jonathan Newman's second feature after Being Considered. Ultramaroon has been developed from writer-director Phil John's acclaimed short Suckerfish, while Blood Relative is to be written by Fiona Watson and produced by Catherine Aitken, Ros Borland and Nigel Harper.