Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is to playa lead role in Australian film December Boys, a signing which shouldhelp drive Australian investors into the long-standing Becker Group's firstfilm fund before the fund's June 30 cut off.

Radcliffe is playing the oldest of four close-knit orphansin Becker Entertainment's 1960s coming-of-age drama, to be directed by RodHardy from Marc Rosenberg's adaptation of Michael Noonan's novel. It is theBritish teenager's first major role outside the Potter franchise. Hewill fly straight from the LA opening of Harry Potter And The Order Of ThePhoenix to Australia to start principal photography in November.

"This highly significant announcement further underpinsthe commerciality of The Becker Filmed Entertainment Fund," said BryanLowe of Harbourside Film Finances, which structured the money-raising venturefor Becker. $6m (A$8m) is being sought from "wholesale" investors,defined as having assets in excess of $1.9m or earnings of at least $190.000 perannum, but only $900,000m has to be raised for the fund to exist. DecemberBoys goes ahead whatever happens.

Investors will actually be buying into three films. Theother two are Like Minds, starring Toni Collette, and director BrettLeonard's thriller Feed, set in the world of grossly overweight women,both of which are in post-production. Becker Films International represents allthree.

Investors are being promised in excess of 75% of theirinvestment, which Lowe says is the highest capital guarantee for many years ofany film offering under the division 10BA tax legislation. "It is based onlocal and international presales, certain features of the fund, and our ownconfident predictions about what are three very international films."

December Boys' other investors are Film FinanceCorporation Australia and the South Australian Film Corporation, which firstgave their support early last year, and German investor MB 2 Film & MediaGmbH.

Producer Richard Becker said Radcliffe's availability drovethe timing of the shoot and his family was very mindful of his next careermove, his security and education.