An eclectic team of peopledriven by executive producer Barrie M. Osborne (The Lord Of The Rings), producer Richard Keddie and Bangkok-basedfinancier Robert Mullis have won a licence to raise money in Australia for film production.

Others named as part of theMullis Capital Film Licensed Investment Company (FLIC) are actors Hugo Weavingand Noni Hazelhurst, director Fred Schepisi, Melbourne-based lawyer MarkBirrell, joint managing director of corporate travel management companyTravelEdge, Grant Wilson, and banker Simon McKeon.

McKeon is part-time Melbourne executive chair of Macquarie Bank, one of twocompanies that won a pilot FLIC licence about five years ago, but he told Screendaily that his involvement is on apersonal basis only.

Richard Keddie will act aschief executive and is the only one of those named likely to have a full-timerole in the company. He was one of three producers on the feature Little Fish, which starred Weaving andHazelhurst and had Osborne and Mullis in the list of executive producers.

The Australian Governmenthas capped the amount of concessional capital that it is possible to raiseunder the FLIC licence between now and June 30, 2007 at $15m (A$20m).

By levering up otherdomestic and also international investment, Mullis Capital plans to fund fouror five films each budgeted between $7.4m-$15m (A$10m-A$20m). In Australianterms, these are big budget films. Investors in film can get a 100% taxdeduction on their investment whether it is through a FLIC or not, but the FLICoffers additional benefits including the expertise of the managers.

The Mullis FLIC plans towork with the best talent that Australia has to offer and to focus on stories that can reachaudiences around the world. It paints itself as helping Australia to re-establish itself as a great filmmakingcountry.

"To make the industrysustainable in the long term the industry cannot rely just on government," saidMcKeon. "It also requires commercial money."

The licence can also be usedto raise money for television, but he expects Mullis to only fund features.This is likely to be via high net worth individuals and private groups ratherthan small investors. Australia was a "very, very deep market" after "10 to 12 yearsof prosperity," he added.

More details about theMullis FLIC's plans will be made public early in the new year. Four companiesapplied for the one licence available.